Pyroglyphid house dust mites are the most common cause of allergic symptoms in humans. An assessment was made of the toxicity of basil, Ocimum basilicum L, essential oil, 11 basil oil constituents, seven structurally related compounds, and another 22 previously known basil oil constituents to adult American house dust mites, Dermatophagoides farinae Hughes. The efficacy of four experimental spray formulations containing basil oil (1, 2, 3, and 4% sprays) was also assessed. Results were compared with those of two conventional acaricides benzyl benzoate and N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide. The active principles of basil oil were determined to be citral, a-terpineol, and linalool. Citral (24 h LC50,1.13 µg/cm2) and menthol (1.69 µg/cm2) were the most toxic compounds, followed by methyl eugenol (5.78 µg/cm2). These compounds exhibited toxicity greater than benzyl benzoate (LC50, 8.41 µg/cm2) and N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (37.67 µg/cm2). Potent toxicity was also observed with eugenol, menthone, spathulenol, α-terpineol, nerolidol, zerumbone, and nerol (LC50,12.52–21.44 µg/cm2). Interestingly, the sesquiterpenoid α-humulene, lacking only the carbonyl group present in zerumbone, was significantly less effective than zerumbone, indicating that the α,β-unsaturated carbonyl group of zerumbone is a prerequisite component for toxicity. These compounds were consistently more toxic in closed versus open containers, indicating that their mode of delivery was largely a result of vapor action. Basil oil applied as 3 and 4% sprays provided 97 and 100% mortality against the mites, respectively, whereas permethrin (cis:trans, 25:75) 2.5 g/liter spray treatment resulted in 17% mortality. Our results indicate that practical dust mite control in indoor environments can be achieved by basil oil spray formulations (3 and 4% sprays) as potential contact-action fumigants.
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Vol. 51 • No. 3