Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 315–327 | Cite as

Kaolin nano-powder effect on insect attachment ability

  • Gianandrea Salerno
  • Manuela ReboraEmail author
  • Alexander Kovalev
  • Elena Gorb
  • Stanislav Gorb
Original Paper


The present study investigates under controlled conditions the effect of kaolin particle film on reduction of insect attachment ability. Two economically important polyphagous insect pests characterized by different attachment devices were tested, the Southern green stink bug Nezara viridula (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) and the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae). We performed traction force experiments with females pulling on treated (covered with kaolin particle film) and untreated (control) natural (leaf surfaces with different morphological traits) and artificial (hydrophilic and hydrophobic glass) surfaces. The data demonstrated that insect adhesion is heavily affected by kaolin particle film in both tested species. The degree of reduction of insect adhesion to the treated substrates compared with the untreated ones differed according to the kind of treated substrate owing to its initial wettability and morphology (presence of trichomes). To unravel the insect adhesion reduction mechanism of kaolin particle film, we evaluated the safety factor for females before and after walking on treated surfaces and analyzed under cryo-SEM the tarsal attachment devices of N. viridula and C. capitata after walking on treated surfaces. We observed contamination by the kaolin nanoflakes in both the smooth pads of the bug and the hairy pads of the fly. The present study can help to better understand the mechanism of action of kaolin particle film and can contribute to develop future physical control barriers against pest insects, particularly relevant owing to the need to reduce the negative impacts of pesticides on environment and human health.


Particle film Natural product Bioadhesion Friction Southern green stink bug Mediterranean fruit fly 



We are very grateful to Prof. Patrizia Sacchetti (Dipartimento di Scienze Produzioni Agroalimentari e dell’Ambiente, University of Firenze) for providing C. capitata and to Sementi Rosi S.R.L. for providing kaolin powder.


This study was funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, EMBA COST Action CA15216, STSM Grant (ECOST-STSM-CA15216-41582).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e AmbientaliUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Chimica, Biologia e BiotecnologieUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Functional Morphology and Biomechanics, Zoological InstituteKiel UniversityKielGermany

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