Essential Oil as a Source of Bioactive Constituents for the Contr
Medicinal & Aromatic Plants

Medicinal & Aromatic Plants
Open Access

ISSN: 2167-0412

Review Article - (2014) Volume 3, Issue 2

Essential Oil as a Source of Bioactive Constituents for the Control of Insect Pests of Economic Importance in Tunisia

Jouda Mediouni Ben Jemâa*
Laboratory of Biotechnology Applied to Agriculture, National Agricultural Research Institute of Tunisia (INRAT), Tunisia
*Corresponding Author: Jouda Mediouni Ben Jemâa, National Agricultural Research Institute of Tunisia (INRAT), Tunis, Tunisia, Tel: 21697652174 Email: ,


Essential oils from medicinal and aromatic plants are known as a source of secondary metabolites. They act as antimicrobial, antispasmodic, antiviral and anti-insect agents. In addition, essential oils of several species have been recently qualified as replacement alternatives to synthetic pesticides. Tunisia is located in the Mediterranean basin area, a temperate zone characterized by the greatest diversity on the planet since we find around 25,000 species and a very high percentage of these are endemic. The present mini-review comprises an investigation on major and predominant bioactive components and insecticidal potential of various species of Eucalyptus and Artemisia grown in Tunisia. The aim of this mini-review is to bring together most of the available scientific research in Tunisia conducted on insecticidal potential of the genera Eucalyptus and Artemisia, which is currently documented across various publications. Through this mini-review, I hope to attract the attention on the most bioactive essential oils as a source of bioactive constituents. This review has been compiled using references from major work on essential oil and their bioactive components against Tunisian strains of major stored product insect pests. Results revealed that the different species either from Eucalyptus or Artemisia genera have a vast range of insecticidal activities including fumigant, contact and repellent effects. Some very important components have been discovered from these genera, notably 1,8 cineole, and α-pinene from Eucalyptus and β-thujone and Camphor from Artemisia. Various species of Eucalyptus and Artemisia seems to hold great potential for in-depth investigation for various insecticidal activities, especially their effects on the stored product insect pests.

Keywords: Eucalyptus; Artemisia; Stored product; Pest; Tunisia


The development of pest management and control is striving toward a future of sustainable agriculture. Insect pests caused serious problems in agricultural ecosystems during cropping or after harvest. Pesticides have been a major contributor to the increase of agricultural productivity and food supply. Nevertheless, they are a source of concern because of human and environmental health side effects [1]. The undesirable side effects include: target pest resistance and/or resurgence, secondary pest outbreaks, food residue problems, environmental pollution, human toxicity and ecotoxicological risks. Consequently, growing concern about environmental protection, human health, and food safety has brought renewed interest in pesticide use in agriculture. The search for solutions to these problems led to the search and development of more effective alternatives, friendly to environment and respectful to human health. Subsequently, researches has been concentrated on plants for solutions leading to the production of a multitude of secondary compounds that can have toxic, growth reducing, and antifeedant properties against insects [2]. The use of plant extracts (botanical insecticides) to protect crops and stored products is as old as crop protection. Indeed, prior to the development and commercial success of synthetic insecticides beginning in the 1940s, botanical insecticides were major weapons in the farmer’s arsenal against crop pests [3]. Four major types of botanical insecticides are being used for insect control including pyrethrum, rotenone, neem, and essential oils [4].

Aromatic plants and their essential oils have been used since antiquity in flavor and fragrances, as spice, in medicines, as antimicrobial/insecticidal agents, and to repel insect or protect stored products [5-7]. Presence of volatile monoterpenes or essential oils in the plants provides an important defense strategy to the plants, particularly against herbivorous insect pests and pathogenic fungi [8]. These constitute effective alternatives to synthetic pesticides without producing adverse effects on the environment [5,9].

The interest in essential oils has regained momentum during the last decade, primarily due to their fumigant and contact insecticidal activities and the less stringent regulatory approval mechanisms for their exploration due to long history of use [4].

Several studies suggest that essential oils may help fend off insect pests [7,10-13]. In fact, essential oils may provide protection comparable to several widely used synthetic insecticides. Furthermore, essential oils from various plant species show important biological effects that include: cytotoxicity [14], phototoxicity [15], nuclear mutagenicity [16,17], cytoplasmic mutagenicity [18], carcinogenicity [19] and antimutagenic properties [20-22].

This mini-review presents researches conduced in Tunisia for assessing insecticidal effects of some essential oils extracted from various aromatic and medicinal plants. It also provides an overview of their chemical composition and their main bioactive components. This mini-review covers major research that analyzes essential oils as alternative approach to address issues of chemicals use replacement, as well as potential considerations of effective control using essential oils. The mini-review summarizes existing and ongoing research works on the valorization of essential oils against insect pests in Tunisia. Analysis is provided to relate essential oils applications to the larger context of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies. This mini-review will recapitulate all essential oils achievement in terms of insect pests control; it will mainly focus on stored product pests.

This mini-review will focus on essential oils extracted from different Artemisia and Eucalyptus species. The choice was made on the base that the genus Artemisia is native to temperate and Northern Africa regions including Tunisia while Eucalyptus, Australian native genus, was introduced and well adapted in Tunisia. The white wormwood Artemisia herba-alba Asso. The absinthe wormwood Artemisia absinthium L. are native to northern Africa. They are common species widely distributed in the Mediterranean basin and in Tunisia. These species are valued because they are used in folk medicine, as spices and as flavoring agents. Moreover, Eucalyptus is Australian native genus that had been introduced and adapted in Tunisia since 1957. It had been used as fire wood, for the production of mine wood and against erosion. Furthermore, in this mini-review, insecticidal proprieties of essential oils were assessed against beetles and moths species of economic importance causing quantitative and qualitative losses to various stored products including dates, cereal products and various others food stuffs. On the other hand, the dried-fruit beetle, Carpophilus hemipterus L., the sawtoothed grain beetle Oryzaephilus surinamensis L., the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum Herbst., the tropical warehouse moth Ephestia cautella Walker, the Mediterranean flour moth Ephestia kuehniella Zeller, the carob moth Ectomyelois ceratoniae Zeller and the Indian meal moth Plodia interpunctella (Hübner) are causing significant economic losses during storage in Tunisia. These insects are reported as major pests of stored commodities in Tunisia. These devastating insects cause loss of weight and downgrading of the commercial value of the products.

Bioactive essential oils from Eucalyptus species

This section highlights the chemical composition of essential oils as a source of variation of anti-insect properties. The main investigated oils were those from the genus Eucalyptus.

Table 1 reported chemical composition of respectively 10 Eucalyptus species namely: E. astringens, E. leucoxylon, E. lehmani, E. rudis, E. camaldulensis, E. dumosa collected from the arboretum of Korbous (north East Tunisia); E. transcontinentalis and E. dumosa collected from the arboretum of Sidi Ismail (Sahel of Tunisia); E. cinerea, E. maidenii and E. viminalis collected from the arboretum of Souiniet, Aïn Draham (north West of Tunisia). Results reported in Table 1 indicated that major and predominant components of their essential oil were: α-pinene, Phellandrene, β-pinene, 1,8-cineole, Cis-Ocimene, γ-terpinene, α-terpinolene, Linalool, Dehydro-pcymene, Isoamyl isovalerate, β-Thujone, Cis-Geraniol, 3-Methylene cycloheptane, Trans-pinocarveol, Trans-pinocarveol, Pinocarvone, Borneol, Terpinene-4-ol, Cyclohexanol, Linalyl propionate, α-terpineol, β-fenchyl alcohol, Trans-Piperitol, Cuminic aldehyde, Geraniol, Piperitone, Isothymol, Ethyl mesylate, Cuminyl alcohol, Methyl geranate, Bicycloelemene, Camphene, α-terpinene, Geranyl acetate, α-gurjunene, Bicyclogermacrene, Trans-caryophyllene, β-caryophyllene, Aromadendrene, γ-gurjunene, β-eudesmene, 1,4-Dimethyltertraline, Epiglobulol, Viridiflorol, γ-cadinene, Globulol, Ledene, β-eudesmol, Spathulenol, β-selinene, Isospathulenol, γ-selinene, t-muurolol, 4-Tert-Butylphenyl methyl ether, α-cadinol, Allospathulenol, Isospathulol, -costal, β-Oplopenone, β-Elemenone, Vitrenal, Isoaromadendrene epoxide, Acide n-Hexadecanoique, Acide 9-Octadecenoique and Heptacosane. Generally, these major components determine the biological properties of the essential oils. Additionally, results indicated that these major identified components in the 10 essential oils with pesticidal activity were in accordance with those extracted from various Eucalyptus species throughout the word [11,23-29]. Furthermore, our data provides a clear evidence that 1,8 cineole is the major constituent of the ten essential oils. Its relative proportions reached 82.82% for E. transcantinentalis, 79.44% for E. dumosa, 75.79% for E. viminalis, 75.64% for E. maidenii and 67.22% for E. cinerea. Such results were reported by Duke [30] who indicated that among the various components of Eucalyptus oil, 1,8-cineole is the most important one and is a characteristic compound of the genus Eucalyptus, and is largely responsible for a variety of its pesticidal properties.

No Components RI KI E. Astringens E. Leucoxylon E. Lehmani E. Rudis E. Camaldulensis E. Dumosa E. Transcontinentalis E. Cinerea E.Maidenii E. Viminalis
1 α-thujene 8.23 879 tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.14 tr tr tr
2 α-pinene 9.25 944 29.83 32.73 31.61 14.49 16.49 2.93 7.96 8.13 4.54 1.65
3 Phellandrene 10.71 995 tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.47 0.24 Tr tr
4 β-pinene 10.82 1002 0.43 tr tr 3.91 tr tr 0.17 tr tr tr
5 β-myrcene 10.83 1003 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.37
6 Sabinene 11.17 1010 0.03 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
7 Cymene 12.18 1033 tr tr tr tr tr 0.93 1.83 tr tr tr
8 1,8-cinéole 12.3 1035 17.29 17.62 34.56 19.87 20.62 79.44 82.82 67.22 75.64 75.79
9 isopentyl isopentanoate 13.77 1050 tr tr tr tr tr 0.11 tr tr tr tr
10 Endo-Fenchol 14.05 1065 tr tr tr tr tr 0.24 tr tr tr tr
11 Cis-Ocimene 14.15 1075 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.6 tr 1.17
12 Trans-linalool oxide 14.17 1077 tr tr tr tr 0.26 tr tr tr tr tr
13 γ-terpinene 14.26 1079 0.64 0.97 1.79 6.04 4.8 tr tr 0.27 tr tr
14 Cis-sabinene hydrate 14.36 1081 tr tr tr tr 0.19 tr tr tr tr tr
15 α-terpinolene 14.58 1086 0.17 0.16 0.32 0.34 tr tr tr 13.95 tr 0.6
16 Linalool 14.71 1089 0.05 0.06 0.07 0.1 1.46 tr tr tr tr tr
17 Dehydro-p-cymene 14.74 1090 tr tr tr tr 1.23 tr tr 0.68 0.63 tr
18 Isoamyl isovalerate 14.8 1091 tr 0.21 tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.4 0.65
19 Butanoic acid 15.04 1096 tr tr 0.12 0.04 tr tr tr tr tr tr
20 D-frenchyl alcohol Fenchol 15.08 1097 0.07 0.23 0.9 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
21 b-Thujone 15.17 1099 tr tr tr tr 0.54 tr tr tr tr tr
22 Octa-2,4,6-triene 15.27 1104 tr tr tr 0.07 tr tr tr tr tr tr
23 Cis-Geraniol 15.36 1107 tr tr tr tr 0.75 tr tr 0.18 tr tr
24 3-Methylene cycloheptane 15.41 1112 tr tr tr tr 0.44 tr tr tr tr tr
25 α-campholene aldehyde 15,6 1123 tr 0.14 0.16 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
26 exo-methyl-camphenilol 16,04 1149 0.05 0.08 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
27 Trans-pinocarveol 16,13 1155 3.39 2.96 2.31 0.31 tr 9.46 3.68 tr 2.71 0.42
28 Pinocarvone 16,76 1192 2.23 0.82 0.56 0.08 tr tr tr tr tr tr
29 Borneol 16,91 1207 0.84 0.19 1.6 tr tr 0.39 tr tr tr tr
30 Terpinene-4-ol 17,1 1213 1.44 1.45 1.15 4.46 4.45 tr tr 0.78 0.33 0.74
31 Cyclohexanol 17.2 1224 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.96 1.45
32 Sabinol 17,44 1225 0.08 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
33 Linalyl propionate 17.49 1226 tr 6.32 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
34 α-terpineol 17,55 1229 5.11 tr 6.82 4.32 0.79 0.25 tr tr 3.25 1.25
35 Myrtenol 17,65 1233 0.15 tr tr tr tr 0.17 tr tr tr tr
36 β-fenchyl alcohol 17,74 1236 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 4.68 tr 0.46
37 Trans-carveol 18,08 1247 0.16 0.13 0.1 0.07 tr tr tr tr tr tr
38 Trans-Piperitol 18.24 1248 tr tr tr tr 0.49 tr tr tr tr Tr
39 Cuminic aldehyde 18.38 1249 tr tr tr 0.1 3.47 tr tr tr tr tr
40 Carvone 18,64 1267 0.06 0.03 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
41 Geraniol 18,79 1272 0.27 0.63 0.29 0.34 tr tr tr tr tr tr
42 Piperitone 18.96 1278 tr tr tr tr 1.45 tr tr tr tr tr
43 Z-citral 19.16 1284 tr 0.06 0.07 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
44 E-citral 19.21 1285 tr tr 0.04 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
45 Phellandral 19.38 1292 tr 0.08 tr 0.07 tr tr tr tr tr tr
46 Borneol acetate 19.55 1295 tr tr 0.04 0.04 Tr tr tr tr tr tr
47 Thymol 19,69 1303 tr tr 0.06 0.02 tr tr tr tr tr tr
48 Isothymol 20,07 1318 0.16 0.29 0.09 0.13 7.3 tr tr tr tr tr
49 Ethyl mesylate 20.13 1320 tr tr tr tr 4.27 tr tr tr tr tr
50 Cuminyl alcohol 20.44 1332 tr tr tr tr 3.33 tr tr tr tr tr
51 Methyl geranate 20.64 1338 tr 1.7 tr tr tr tr tr 1.28 tr tr
52 Bicycloelemene 20,88 1349 0.46 tr tr 0.18 tr tr tr tr tr tr
53 Camphene 21,29 1364 tr tr 8.72 0.04 tr tr tr tr tr tr
54 a-terpinene 21.66 1379 tr tr tr tr 0.65 tr tr tr tr tr
55 Isoledene 21,79 1384 0,06 0.04 tr 0.1 tr tr tr tr tr tr
56 a-copaene 22.11 1397 Tr Tr tr tr 0.1 tr tr tr tr tr
57 Geranyl acetate 22.18 1399 tr tr 0.1 0.44 tr tr tr tr tr tr
58 β-elemene 22,22 1401 0.05 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
59 α-gurjunene 22,76 1421 tr 0.49 0.05 0.57 tr tr tr tr tr 0.34
60 Bicyclogermacrene 23,06 1433 3 tr 0.28 2.85 tr tr tr 0.16 tr tr
61 Trans-caryophyllene 23,08 1434 1.24 tr 0.15 tr 0.87 tr tr tr tr tr
62 β-caryophyllene 23,1 1435 tr tr tr 0.67 tr tr tr tr tr tr
63 Docosane 23.15 1436 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.34 tr
64 β-gurjunene 23,35 1444 0.09 0.11 tr tr 0.09 tr tr tr tr tr
65 Geranyl acetone 23.71 1457 tr 0.05 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
66 Aromadendrene 23,73 1459 5.01 3.61 1.02 6.37 3.93 tr 0.23 tr 3.25 1.65
67 γ-gurjunene 23,82 1462 1.27 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 2.82 7.6
68 α-caryophyllene 23,93 1466 0.1 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
69 Naphthalene,1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-6,7-dimethl 24.47 1488 tr 0.1 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
70 Germacrene-D 24.6 1492 tr tr tr 0.04 tr tr tr tr tr tr
71 β-eudesmene 24.9 1504 tr 0.6 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
72 1,4-Dimethyltertraline 24.94 1506 tr tr tr tr 2.03 tr tr tr tr tr
73 γ-gurjunene 25.2 1518 tr 0.03 0.65 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
74 Caryophyllene oxide 25.31 1520 tr tr tr tr 0.04 tr tr tr tr tr
75 α-amorphene 25,32 1521 0.05 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
76 γ-cadinene 25.41 1526 tr tr tr 0.06 tr tr tr tr tr tr
77 Epiglobulol 26,52 1575 1.39 tr 0.28 tr tr tr tr tr 1.03 2.83
78 a-selinene 26.61 1579 tr tr 0.17 tr 0.09 tr tr tr tr tr
80 Viridiflorol 26,94 1593 11.24 5.27 tr 2.06 1.36 tr tr tr tr tr
81 γ-cadinene 26.96 1594 tr 0.72 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
82 γ-gurjunene 27.33 1610 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.42 tr tr
83 Globulol 27,51 1618 3.84 14.38 1.48 tr tr tr 0.89 tr tr tr
84 Ledene 27,67 1624 tr 0.31 2.52 tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.36
85 Allospathulenol 27,84 1632 0.2 tr 0.06 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
86 β-eudesmol 27.9 1635 tr tr 0.41 tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.71
87 2-Naphthalènemethanol 28.11 1640 tr tr tr tr tr 0.14 tr tr tr tr
88 Spathulenol 28.16 1646 tr tr tr 0.04 2.36 tr tr 0.3 tr 0.65
89 β-selinene 28.37 1656 tr 0.81 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
90 Isospathulenol 28,42 1657 0.97 tr 0.23 tr 1.74 tr tr tr tr tr
91 γ-selinene 28.48 1660 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.58
92 1-Amino-4-bromonaphalene 28,53 1662 0.05 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
93 t-muurolol 28,56 1664 tr 0.26 0.17 2.34 2.93 tr tr tr tr tr
94 4-Tert-Butylphenyl methyl ether 28.7 1669 tr tr tr 1.39 tr tr tr tr tr tr
95 α-cadinol 28,75 1672 0.4 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
96 Allospathulenol 29.07 1685 tr tr tr 1.09 tr tr tr tr tr tr
97 Sesquichamene 29.11 1687 tr 0.11 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
98 Isospathulol 29.29 1692 tr tr tr 3.09 tr tr tr tr tr tr
99 Cyclododecane 29.33 1695 tr 0.07 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
100 Alloaromadendrene 29,63 1711 tr tr tr tr tr 0.26 tr tr tr tr
101 a-costal 29.74 1718 tr tr tr tr 1.23 tr tr tr tr tr
102 a-copaen-11-ol 29.81 1719 tr tr tr tr 0.19 tr tr tr tr tr
103 Trans-farnesol 29,97 1727 0.08 tr tr 0.09 tr tr tr tr tr tr
104 b-Oplopenone 30.05 1729 tr tr tr 0.6 1.35 tr tr tr tr tr
105 1-Amino-4-bromonaphalene 30.48 1750 tr tr tr tr 0.27 tr tr tr tr tr
106 b-Elemenone 30.78 1764 tr tr tr tr 1.08 tr tr tr tr tr
107 Isoaromadendrene epoxide 31.03 1777 tr tr tr 0.92 tr tr tr tr tr Tr
108 Vitrenal 31.33 1793 tr tr tr tr 1.15 tr tr tr tr tr
109 1-Pentadecen-8-yne 31.42 1796 tr tr tr tr 0.09 tr tr tr tr tr
110 Hexahydro-farnesyl acetone 32.6 1855 tr tr tr tr 0.06 tr tr tr tr tr
111 Acide  n-Hexadecanoique 34.68 1989 tr tr tr tr tr 0.78 tr tr tr tr
112 Oosane 35.29 1999 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.34 tr
113 Manoyl oxide 35.65 2003 tr tr tr 0.35 tr tr tr tr tr tr
114 Trans-Phytol 37.59 2106 tr tr tr tr 0.08 tr tr tr tr tr
115 Phytol 37.61 2108 tr 0.05 tr 0.02 tr tr tr tr tr tr
116 Acide 9-Octadecenoique 37.9 2111 tr tr tr tr tr 0.99 tr tr tr tr
118 Pentacosane 44.01 2425 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.35 tr
119 Heptacosane 47.8 1610 tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr 0.9 tr

Table 1: Percentage composition of essential oils from ten Eucalyptus species collected from different arboreta in Tunisia (Major and predominant compounds marked in bold form).
RI, KI were respectively Retention Index and Kováts Index calculated on a HP-5MS capillary column (30 m × 0.25 mm × 0.25 µm), tr: traces

Bioassays were designed to assess median lethal concentration LC50 (dose that kills 50% of the exposed insects). Probit analysis [31] was used to estimate LC50 values. Table 2 illustrated results of the ten essential oils reported on adults of different Tunisian strains of stored product insect pests.

Essential oils Insect pests
E. cautella E. kuehniella E. ceratoniae Plodia interpunctella C. hemipterus O. surinamensis
E. astringens 11.63
- - -
E. leucoxylon 11.28
- - -
E. lehmani 14.86
- - -
E. rudis 15.47
- - -
E. camaldulensis 11.07
- - -
E. dumosa - - 18.30
- - -
E. transcontinentalis - - 19.91
- - -
E. cinerea 13.09
(11.7- 17.6)
- - 17.77
(169.4- 195.8)
(14.9- 19.9)
E.maidenii 12.5
- - 9.08
E. viminalis 13.86
- - 10.108

Table 2: LC50 values (µl/l air) of different essential oils extracted from different arboreta in Tunisia against various stored product insects [28,29,32,33].
LC50 (µl/ air) values calculated for mortality within 24 h of exposure at 25°C (95% lower and upper confidence limits are shown in parenthesis).

Bioactive essential oils from Artemisia species

The Genus Artemisia L. comprises important medicinal plants which are currently the subject of phytochemical attention due to their biological and chemical diversity [34]. This genus contains over 500 species, which are mainly found in Asia, Europe and North America [35]. Le Floc’h, [36] reported that in Tunisia, the genus Artemisia contains six species: Artemisia arborescens, Artemisia atlantica, Artemisia campestris Artemisia herba alba, Artemisia inculta, and Artemisia vulgaris. The white wormwood, Artemisia herba-alba Asso is dwarf shrub that grows wild in arid areas of the Mediterranean basin, extending into northern Himalayas [37]. In Tunisia, A. herba-alba is growing wild in the southern arid zone [38]. Moreover, the wormwood or absinthe wormwood, Artemisia absinthium L., is a medicinal and aromatic bitter herb, which has been used as a medicine from ancient times [39]. Artemisia species essential oils have insecticidal or repellent properties [40-44].

In this section, we investigated the chemical composition of the essential oil from Tunisian A. herba-alba and A. absinthium (Table 3). In addition, we evaluated their fumigant efficacy, contact toxicity and repellency against the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) and the sawtoothed grain beetle, Oryzaephilus surinamensis (L.) that are two of the most important beetle pests of stored products in Tunisia (Tables 4 and 5).

No Compounds RI A. absinthium A. herba-alba
1 Methylcyclopentane 2.42 0.21 0.36
2 1,3-cyclopentadiene,5-1,1 dimethylethyl 5.85 0.13 tr
3 Cis-salvene 6.38 0.02 tr
4 Tricyclene 8.24 tr 0.09
5 Delta-3-carene 8.25 0.15 0.10
6 a-pinene 8.62 0.29 5.4
7 Camphene 9.07 2.37 2.63
8 Verbenene 9.23 0.13 tr
9 Sabinene 9.83 0.07 tr
10 b-pinene 9.90 0.06 1.64
11 b-myrcene 10.40 tr 0.32
12 Psi-cumene 10.49 0.21 tr
13 a-terpinene 11.16 0.07 0.22
14 m-cymene 11.45 0.63 0.48
15 1,8-cineole 11.62 5.47 19.59
16 ɣ-terpinene 12.46 0.06 0.41
17 a-terpinolene 13.34 tr 0.17
18 Linalool 13.82 tr 0.25
19 b-thujone 14.00 22.72 tr
20 Camphor 15.19 16.71 11.48
21 Pinocarvone 15.61 0.94 tr
22 Borneol 15.81 1.77 2.29
23 Terpinene-4-ol 16.11 0.35 0.32
24 a-terpineol 16.54 tr 1.09
24 Myrtenal 16.56 0.14 tr
26 Myrtenol 16.67 0.22 tr
27 Verbenone 16.97 0.46 tr
28 Carvone 17.98 0.16 tr
29 Piperitone 18.26 0.33 tr
30 Chrysanthenyl acetate 18.38 0.69 tr
31 Bornyl acetate 19.05 0.25 0.72
32 Sabinyl acetate 19.26 0.43 tr
33 Benzyl bromoacetate 20.06 0.71 tr
34 Caryophyllene 22.65 tr 0.99
35 a- Caryophyllene 23.52 tr 0.15
36 Caryophyllene oxide 23.69 tr 0.11
37 Germacrene-D 24.21 0.27 tr
38 Bicyclogermacrene 24.58 0.15 tr
39 Spathulenol 26.62 0.09 tr
40 Oleic acid 39.84 tr 0.22
RI is the Retention Index calculated on a HP-5MS capillary column (30 m × 0.25 mm × 0.25 µm), tr: traces

Table 3: Percentage composition of essential oils from two Artemisia species collected from north Tunisia (Major and predominant compounds marked in bold form).

Bioassays Essential oil T. castaneum O. surinamensis
LC50 LC95 LC50 LC95
Fumigant activity A. herba-alba
A. absinthium
Contact toxicity A. herba-alba
A. absinthium

Table 4: Lethal Concentrations LC50 and LC95 (µl/l air) of two A. herba-alba and A. absinthium essential oils against adults of T. castaneum and O. surinamensis [47].
LC50 and LC95 (µl/ air) values calculated for mortality within 24 h of exposure at 25°C.

Insects Essential oils Concentrations (µl/cm2)
0.09 0.19 0.29 0.39
T. castaneum A. herba alba 20 7.5 27.5 40
A. absinthium 92.5 97.5 90 92.5
O. surinamensis A. herba alba 2.5 45 17.5 7.5
A. absinthium 53.09 40 34.29 12.5

Table 5: Repellency (%) of A. herba-alba and A. absinthium essential oils against adults of T. castaneum and O. surinamensis after 24 h of exposure [47].

Major and predominant components from A. absinthium essential oil were: β-thujone (22.72%), Camphor (16.71%), 1,8 cineole (5.47%), Camphene (2. 37%), Borneol (1.77%), Pinocarvone (0.94%), Benzyl bromoacetate (0.71), m-cymene (0.63%) and Sabinyl acetate (0.43%). While, for A. herba-alba essential oil, major and predominant components were: 1,8-cineole (19.59%), Camphor (11.48%), α-pinene (5.4%), Camphene (2.63%), Borneol (2.29%), β-pinene (1.64%), α-terpineol (1.09%), Caryophyllene (0.99%), Bornyl acetate (0.72%) and m-cymene (0.48%).

Results reported in Table 3 showed similarity regarding chemical composition of the two essential oils. Results indicated quantitative and qualitative variations in the composition of the essential oils were observed. Results in Table 3 clearly demonstrated that both oils were rich in compounds known to possess insecticidal activity. Moreover, our data confirms previous works related to chemical composition of both essential oils [39,45,46].

Results demonstrated that for fumigant and contact tests, essential oils were toxic against the two beetles. Regarding, fumigant toxicity, results indicated that A. herba-alba oil was more effective against both insects compared to A. absinthium oil. This result could be attributed to its chemical composition. Indeed, highest percentages of α-pinene, β-pinene, 1.8-cineole and α-terpineol in A. herba-alba oil compared to A. absinthium oil (Table 3) conferred it best insecticidal potential against the two tested insect species. Indeed, the pesticidal activity essential oils has been due to various components such as 1,8-cineole, α-pinene and α-terpineol [27,48,49]. Concerning contact toxicity, results showed that the sawtoothed grain beetle O. surinamensis was more susceptible than the red flour beetle T. castaneum. Additionally, A. herba-alba oil was also more effective than A. absinthium oil. To summarize, results indicated that both A. herba-alba and A. absinthium essential oils were toxic against adults of the two beetles. Our data support the use of Tunisian Artemisia essential oils as grain protectants for the management of stored insect pests.

Results reported in Table 5 showed that the highest repellent activity was recorded with A. absinthium essential oil. Indeed, repellency reached respectively 92.5 and 53.09% for T. castaneum and O. surinamensis at the dose 0.09 μl/cm2 after 24 h of exposure. This important repellency could be attributed to chemical composition of this oil. In this respect, the components as β-thujone, chrysanthenyl acetate and sabinyl acetate were responsible for the repellent activity of A. absinthium essential oil [50]. In addition, several researches reported the repellent activity of A. absinthium oil various insects such as fleas, flies and mosquitoes [51,52]. All those results valorize Tunisian A. herba-alba and A. absinthium essential oils as sources of biological active compounds. Thus, these species might be good candidates for further investigations in developing new control approaches and can be used as natural bio-insecticides instead of more toxic synthetic pesticides. Moreover, further investigations on other Artemisia species would be of interest.


The biological proprieties of the tested essential oils were consistent with results from other scientific studies. Eucalyptus and Artemisia essential oils from Tunisia were successfully applied against various stored product insect pests. As indicated above, some changes in chemical composition occur, these changes were directly linked to plant factors (genotype, climate, age of plantation, soil,…). However, standard protocols for bioassays and a database for collecting and organizing bioactivity data would be useful for more comprehensive study on bioactive component distribution through the word.


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Citation: Jemâa JMB (2014) Essential Oil as a Source of Bioactive Constituents for the Control of Insect Pests of Economic Importance in Tunisia. Med Aromat Plants 3:158

Copyright: © 2014 Jemâa JMB. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.