Effectiveness of Herbal Extracts in Controlling Cactus Pests

Jenn Hoskins
14th May, 2024

Effectiveness of Herbal Extracts in Controlling Cactus Pests

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study in the Tigray region of Ethiopia found that herbal extracts from local plants can effectively kill cochineal insects threatening cactus crops
  • Extracts from Solanum linnaeanum and Nerium oleander were the most effective, achieving mortality rates of 99.3% and 97.4% respectively at a 5% concentration
  • Using these herbal extracts offers a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to synthetic insecticides, helping protect vital cactus resources and supporting food security
Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a drought-resistant plant essential for food and income, particularly in arid regions like the southern part of the Tigray region in Ethiopia. However, this region is grappling with a major threat: a damaging parasitoid known as Dactylopius opuntiae-ficus biotype. To address this problem, a recent study by Mekelle University[1] investigated the efficacy of herbal extracts against these cochineal insects. The study, conducted from August 2022 to February 2023, explored the insecticidal properties of methanol extracts from various plants: Solanum linnaenum, Euphorbia tirucalli, Nerium oleander, Tephrosia vogelii, Calpurnia aurea, Argemone Mexicana, Datura stramonium, and Ricinus communis. The goal was to determine the effectiveness and lethal concentration (LC50) of these extracts in killing the cochineal insects. Phytochemical screening was also performed to identify the secondary metabolites in these herbal extracts. The results were promising. There was a statistically significant difference in the mean mortality of insects across the different herbal extracts (F (8, 71) = 57.812, p = 0.0001, ƞ2 = 0.867) and the concentrations of the extracts (F (1, 71) = 4198.3, p = 0.0001, ƞ2 = 0.983). Specifically, the extracts of S. linnaenum and N. oleander showed the highest efficacy, causing average mortality rates of 99.3% and 97.4%, respectively, at a 5% extract concentration. The major metabolites found in these extracts were tannins and saponins. This study provides a sustainable pest control strategy for protecting vital cactus resources in the Tigray region. The use of herbal extracts as insecticides offers a natural, eco-friendly alternative to synthetic chemicals, which often lead to resistance in pests and have adverse environmental effects[2]. The findings align with previous research that highlights the potential of plant-derived secondary metabolites in pest control[2]. Moreover, the study ties into broader discussions about sustainable livestock feed. With the global demand for animal products projected to rise by 60% to 70% by 2050, and the associated increase in feed demand threatening food security in developing countries[3], protecting drought-resistant plants like the cactus becomes even more critical. These plants serve as a crucial feed resource during dry seasons, especially in regions already facing food security challenges[3]. In summary, the research by Mekelle University demonstrates the promising insecticidal efficacy of herbal extracts against the cochineal pest, offering a sustainable solution to protect cactus resources. This aligns with broader efforts to ensure food security and sustainable livestock feed in developing countries, addressing some of the complex challenges posed by climate change, land degradation, and water shortages[3].

HerbsAgriculturePlant Science


Main Study

1) Efficacy of herbal extracts in the management of cactus pest, Dactylopius opuntiae (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) in Tigray Region, Ethiopia

Published 13th May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Plant extracts as potential mosquito larvicides.

Journal: The Indian journal of medical research, Issue: Vol 135, Issue 5, May 2012

3) Review: Feed demand landscape and implications of food-not feed strategy for food security and climate change.


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