Sweet orange essential oil has been shown to have insecticidal property. In other words, it has the ability to repel and even kill insects.
Insects constitute the largest class in the animal phylum. They are so far considered the most successful group in the animal kingdom.
Insects are both beneficial and harmful. In terms of benefits, they help during pollination which is an important part in plant reproduction phase. Some produce chemicals that can be used to manufacture pesticides. Some insects serve as food to many animals. Others like bees produce honey which we consume. Insects are also employed in many scientific investigations to study different phenomena.
Insects are also harmful in some ways. Some are disease vectors for example; mosquitoes are careers of the deadly Malaria disease. Insects are also found in our homes and they are not a good site to behold.
World over, insects continue to wreak havoc on cultivated crops leading to an overall reduction in yields per cultivated area of land. After harvesting their crops, farmers also have to deal with insects that attack the stored produce. This has led to the employment of synthetic insecticides whose impact on the environment has continued to be detrimental.
In addition, when these insecticides are used in pest control, they leave residues on the crop and the harvested produce. These residues finally find their way into our bodies when we consume the crop produce. Research has shown that some of these residues are toxic to our cells, tissues and body organs. This poses a health problem which negatively affects our wellbeing.
Consequently, the demand for safer and eco-friendly insecticides has been on a steady rise.
Insecticides manufactured using essential oils have recently emerged as more safer and eco-friendlier alternatives to synthetic insecticides. This is because essential oils are natural or organic products hence do not contain any residues that may be harmful to our health and the environment as well.
Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oil has shown diverse insecticidal activity as shown in the following section.
The insecticidal property of sweet orange essential oil has been shown by its ability to repel and kill mosquitoes. Traboulsi et al. (2005) explored the insecticidal activities of essential oil extracts from roots, leaves, and flowers of aromatic plants against mosquito larvae Culex pipiens molestus Forskal. According to the results, the order of toxicity from the most toxic to the least was: Foeniculum vulgare Mill, Ferula hermonis Boiss, Citrus sinensis Osbeck, Pinus pinea L, Laurus nobilis L, and Eucalyptus spp.
Another insecticidal property of sweet orange essential oil is the ability to repel and kill houseflies. According to a research done by Palacios et al. (2009), chemical compounds present in sweet orange essential oil had the ability to kill both the larvae and adult houseflies in the study.
Similar results were obtained by Kumar et al. (2011), who established that sweet orange essential oil showed repellant activity against the larva and pupa life stages of houseflies.
Sweet orange essential oil also shows another insecticidal property by its ability to repel and kill cockroaches. Ezeonu et al. (2001) studied the insecticidal properties of volatile extracts of orange peels. The findings revealed that volatile extracts of sweet orange and lime essential oils displayed insecticidal activity against cockroaches, mosquitos and houseflies. Of the three insects, the most affected by the sweet orange essential oil were the cockroaches.
Research has also shown that the sweet orange essential oil has the insecticidal property of repelling the vine mealybug, which is a pest that attacks grape vines. Karamaouna et al. (2013) investigated the effect of plant essential oils on the grape vine mealybug. The results showed that sweet orange was among the most toxic essential oils to the mealybug pest.
Sweet orange essential oil has been shown to possess anti-aphid property. Aphids belong to the family of insects called Aphidoidea in the order Hemiptera. Aphids are otherwise called bugs, which suck sap from plants. They are commonly known as cotton aphid or melon aphid.
Bagavan et al. (2009) examined the effect of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), Ocimum canum, Ocimum sanctum and Rhinacanthus nasutus plant extracts on the cotton aphid, mosquito larvae, and the Japanese encephalitis vector, Culex tritaeniorhynchus Giles. According to the results, sweet orange extract was the most lethal of the three plant extracts that were used.
Another insecticidal property of the sweet orange essential oil is its ability to repel and kill the red spider mite. The red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) is a pest that causes a lot of damage to cultivated crops.
According to a study conducted by Araujo et al. (2010), sweet orange essential oil showed fumigant and repellent properties against the red spider mite. The researchers therefore recommended the oil to be used in the manufacture of acaricides to control red spider mites.
Another insecticidal property of the sweet orange essential oil is shown by its ability to repel the tobacco white fly (Bemisia tabaci). This insect is a pest that attacks many crops leading to massive loses in overall crop yield.
Ribeiro et al. (2010) explored the insecticidal activity of the sweet orange essential oil against the tobacco white fly. The results showed that the oil was capable of reducing the number of eggs laid by the insect which translates to a reduction in their population. Hence, the researchers proposed the inclusion of sweet orange oil in manufacture of insecticide for the integrated management of whiteflies.
Sweet orange essential oil has also shown some insecticidal activity against the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti). This mosquito is a vector responsible for the spread of Zika fever, chikungunya, Mayaro, dengue fever, among other diseases.
Warikoo et al. (2012) assessed the effect of hexane extracts obtained from the leaves of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) plant on instars (larva-adult phase) and female adults of Aedes aegypti. According to the results, extracts from the sweet orange leaves showed remarkable irritation against the yellow fever mosquito.
Another insecticidal property of the sweet orange essential oil is its ability to inhibit the growth of the cowpea seed beetle. Moravvej and Abbar (2008) investigated the effects of the chemical constituents of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis, Citrus limonium, Citrus paradisi and Citrus aurantium. The findings showed that the essential oils had a high fumigant action against adult beetles. However, the sweet orange essential oil proved to be the least effective of the four oils used in the study.
Araújo, C.P., Jr., da Camara, C.A., Neves, I.A., Ribeiro, N.C., Gomes, C.A., de Moraes, M.M. and Botelho, P.S. (2010). Acaricidal activity against Tetranychus urticae and chemical composition of peel essential oils of three Citrus species cultivated in NE Brazil. Natural Product Communications 5(3), 471-476.
Bagavan, A., Kamaraj, C., Rahuman, A.A., Elango, G., Zahir, A.A. and Pandiyan, G. (2009). Evaluation of larvicidal and nymphicidal potential of plant extracts against Anopheles subpictus Grassi, Culex tritaeniorhynchus Giles and Aphis gossypii Glover. Parasitology Research, 104(5), 1109–1117.
Ezeonu F.C., Chidume G.I., Udedi S.C. (2001). Insecticidal properties of volatile extracts of orange peels. Bioresource Technology, 76(3), 273–274.
Karamaouna F., Kimbaris A., Michaelakis A., Papachristos D., Polissiou M., Papatsakona P., Tsora E. Insecticidal activity of plant essential oils against the vine mealybug, Planococcus ficus. Journal of Insect Science, 13(142), 1-13.
Kumar P., Mishra S., Malik A., Satya S. (2012). Insecticidal evaluation of essential oils of Citrus sinensis L. (Myrtales: Myrtaceae) against housefly, Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae). Parasitology Research, 110(5), 1929–1936.
Moravvej, G. and Abbar, S. (2008). Fumigant toxicity of citrus oils against cowpea seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus (F.) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae) Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 11(1), 48–54.
Palacios, S.M., Bertoni, A., Rossi, Y., Santander, R. and Urzúa, A. (2009). Efficacy of essential oils from edible plants as insecticides against the house fly, Musca domestica L. Molecules, 14(5), 1938-1947.
Ribeiro, N.C., da Camara, C.A., Born, F.S., de Siqueira, H.A. (2010). Insecticidal activity against Bemisia tabaci biotype B of peel essential oil of Citrus sinensis var. pear and Citrus aurantium cultivated in northeast Brazil. Natural Product Communications, 5(11),1819–1822.
Traboulsi A.F., El-Haj S., Tueni M., Taoubi K., Nader N.A., Mrad A. Repellency and toxicity of aromatic plant extracts against the mosquito Culex pipiens molestus (Diptera: Culicidae) Pest Management Science, 61, 597-604.
Warikoo, R., Ray, A., Sandhu, J.K., Samal, R., Wahab, N. and Kumar, S. (2012). Larvicidal and irritant activities of hexane leaf extracts of Citrus sinensis against dengue vector Aedes aegypti L. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 2(2), 152–155.
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