Could Lead to Environmentally Friendly Fumigant
By Kathryn Barry
September 4, 2001
Asian spices may lead to an
environmentally friendly method of pest control in stored grains.
Researchers at ARS Western Regional
Research Center in Albany, Calif., tested the oils extracted from 16 spices
and medicinal plants for effects on the rice weevil (Sitophilus oryzae).
Japanese mint (Mentha arvensis) contained the most potent oils against
the weevil. The active ingredient, menthone, could provide the basis for a new
Rice weevils are one of the chief stored-grain pests worldwide. The
1/8th-inch-long weevils bore into the grains and consume the kernel, reducing
the nutritional value and germination ability of the grain. They also expose
the grain to further degradation by odors, molds and heat.
Many key components of currently used fumigants are losing their federal
registrations because of environmental concerns. Insects have also begun to
develop resistance to some widely used fumigants.
Scientists feel that menthone-based fumigation has good potential as a
stored-grain fumigant. It would leave no hazardous residues, would not
adversely affect the nutritional quality or processing characteristics of
stored grain, would not be flammable or corrosive and would be easily removable
by aeration. Additional testing would need to be conducted to determine the
impact of menthone on odor and flavor.
ARS is the chief scientific research
agency of the U.S. Department of
Campbell led the rice-weevil studies at the Albany research center's