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Sequential Isolation of Essential Oils Repellent to the Red Palm Weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Olivier (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)

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The push–pull approach using semiochemicals in pest control requires both an attractant and a repellent. Many previous studies have arbitrarily tested one or more known insect repellents or plant essential oils (EOs) hoping to find repellents of an insect pest. We used a comprehensive approach that synergistically tests in the field numerous natural volatiles from commercial EOs to identify repellents of the red palm weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a worldwide pest of palms and date palms. Volatiles from 79 EOs in slow-release devices were divided into five groups and tested in traps with attractive pheromone compared to traps with pheromone alone. EO-treatment groups exhibiting repellency due to significant trap shutdown, were further subdivided into subgroups of four EOs each and tested further. Two groups of four EOs (cypress, desert wormwood, elemi, and Eucalyptus citriodora) and (niaouli, nutmeg, oregano, and orange sweet), or their corresponding mixtures of major volatiles, caused pheromone trap reductions of up to 92%. Further tests showed that seven of the eight EOs are similarly repellent as the corresponding subgroup. This systematic approach of successively testing sub-fractions of EOs in the field for trap shutdown should be useful to identify repellents of other insect pests of crops.

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All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this article and its supplementary material.


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The authors thank the date growers in the Kibbutz's surrounding See of Galilee: Mr. Yehuda Abraham (Afikim), Mr. Shmuel Shabi (Dgania-Bet), Mr. Anibal Kaplan and Mr. Avner Golan (Kinneret), Mr. Igal Levin (Ashdot-Yaacov), for allowing us to conducts various field tests in their orchards. Many thanks also to Mr. Dotan Yogev (Shifon cosmetics and raw materials, Israel) for generously donating many essential oils and to Dr. John A. Byers for providing insights and advice regarding the research and review of the manuscript.


Date growers table in Israeli Fruit council and ICA Israel (Jewish Charitable Association) supported the research in 1st and 2nd years respectively.

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ALZ conceived and designed research. ALZ, SS and DF conducted field experiments. SS and OB performed analytical chemistry, ALZ analyzed data and wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Anat Levi-Zada.

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Levi-Zada, A., Steiner, S., Ben-Aziz, O. et al. Sequential Isolation of Essential Oils Repellent to the Red Palm Weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus Olivier (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). J Chem Ecol (2023).

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