Using terpenes as organic pesticides
A group of Italian researchers recently published a paper on the utilization of the essential oil or terpene profile from hemp as a pesticide. The scientists steam distilled the hemp to create an essential oil which they tested on mosquitoes, the peach-potato aphid, the common house fly and the tobacco cutworm. The essential oil killed 100% of the aphids and mosquito larvae, 80% of the house flies, 66% of the tobacco cutworms and 33% of the adult mosquitoes.
Even more fascinating is that the essential oil had nearly no effect on ladybugs or earthworms that was tested. The only interaction found was that ladybug larvae had a 3% mortality rate at the highest dose. In contrast cypermethrin a pesticide had 100% mortality on both insects.
The essential oil of hemp was able to kill a variety of insects that impact agriculture and human health while leaving beneficial insects unscathed, creating a near perfect weapon for integrated pest management or IPM systems.
When the scientists analyzed the essential oil in order to understand the mechanisms behind the effect, they discovered it only contained .1% cannabidiol or CBD. Not a surprise due to the use of steam distillation, which primarily targets the lighter molecules such as terpenes while leaving behind heavier things like cannabinoids. The most common constituents of the essential oil were beta-caryophyllene (45.4%), myrcene (25.0%) and α-pinene (17.9%). There were also large amounts of terpinolene (9.6%) humulene (8.3%),β-pinene (5.2%), ocimene (5.1%) and farnesene (3.0%).
The researchers discussed that most of these terpenes have been identified as having insecticidal effect in past studies. Farnesene is even known for drawing lady bugs to plants and scaring aphids away as it is a terpene given off by aphids when they are wounded. Due to this companies such as All Per-Plus create natural, organic pesticides from True Terpenes products. It’s an exciting time as cannabis and environmentally-friendly technologies continue to expand in concert to help create a healthier, safer and happier world.