In the Mediterranean region, the use of small-mesh netting to protect horticultural crops is an effective sustainable tool against pests. But in tropical regions, because of high humidity under the net favoring fungal development, netting with a larger mesh size has to be used, protecting crops against lepidopteran pests but not against small pests such as hemipterans, thrips, and phytophagous mites. A combination of netting with a repellent or irritant product is one possible solution, but the desire to reduce the use of synthetic chemicals and mitigate resistance issues calls for a natural alternative. The objective of this study was to evaluate the repellent, irritant, and toxic effects of nets dipped in 20 different plant extracts on Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) adults. The repellent effect of volatile compounds was evaluated using a still-air olfactometer. The irritant effect and toxicity were evaluated with a no-choice test in tubes separated into two parts by an impregnated net. Our results showed the seven most irritant and toxic products against B. tabaci were aframomum, cinnamon, geranium, dill, citronella, litsea, and savory. The most repellent were aframomum and lemongrass, although cinnamon, geranium, and savory were also repellent at higher doses. Effects varied with the plant extract and the concentration, and effects were independent of one another, i.e., an essential oil can be irritant but not repellent, suggesting that the repellent mechanism and that behind the irritant or toxic effects is not the same. The use of repellent compounds in combination with netting as new pest control strategy is discussed.
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Vol. 108 • No. 4