Plant essential oils for pest and disease management.
Certain essential plant oils, widely used as fragrances and flavours in the perfume and food industries, have long been reputed to repel insects. Recent investigations in several countries confirm that some plant essential oils not only repel insects, but have contact and fumigant insecticidal actions against specific pests, and fungicidal actions against some important plant pathogens. As part of an effort aimed at the development of reduced-risk pesticides based on plant essential oils, toxic and sublethal effects of some essential oil terpenes and phenols have been investigated using the tobacco cutworm (Spodoptera litura) and the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) as model pest species. In this paper I review (i) the range of biological activities of essential oils and their constituents; (ii) their toxicity and proposed mode-of-action in insects; (iii) their potential health and environmental impacts as crop protectants; and (iv) commercialization of pesticides based on plant essential oils.