Basil oil and its three major active constituents (trans-anethole, estragole, and linalool) obtained from basil (Oscimum basilicum L.) were tested on three tephritid fruit fly species [Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann), Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), and Bactrocera cucurbitae (Coquillett)] for insecticidal activity. All test chemicals acted fast and showed a steep dose-response relationship. The lethal times for 90% mortality/knockdown (LT90) of the three fly species to 10% of the test chemicals were between 8 and 38 min. The toxic action of basil oil in C. capitata occurred significantly faster than in B. cucurbitae but slightly faster than in B. dorsalis. Estragole acted faster in B. dorsalis than in C. capitata and B. cucurbitae. Linalool action was faster in B. dorsalis and C. capitata than in B. cucurbitae. trans-Anethole action was similar to all three species. Methyl eugenol acted faster in C. capitata and B. cucurbitae than in B. dorsalis. When linalool was mixed with cuelure (attractant to B. cucurbitae male), its potency to the three fly species decreased as the concentration of cuelure increased. This was due to linalool hydrolysis catalyzed by acetic acid from cuelure degradation, which was confirmed by chemical analysis. When methyl eugenol (B. dorsalis male attractant) was mixed with basil oil, trans-anethole, estragole, or linalool, it did not affect the toxicity of basil oil and linalool to B. dorsalis, but it did significantly decrease the toxicity of trans-anethole and estragole. Structural similarity between methyl eugenol and trans-anethole and estragole suggests that methyl eugenol might act at a site similar to that of trans-anethole and estragole and serve as an antagonist if an action site exists. Methyl eugenol also may play a physiological role on the toxicity reduction.
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Vol. 102 • No. 1