Chemical composition and biological activity of star anise Illicium verum extracts against maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais adults

J Insect Sci. 2014;14:80. doi: 10.1093/jis/14.1.80.


This study aims to develop eco-friendly botanical pesticides. Dried fruits of star anise (Illicium verum Hook.f. (Austrobaileyales: Schisandraceae)) were extracted with methyl alcohol (MA), ethyl acetate (EA), and petroleum ether (PE) at 25°C. The constituents were determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and the repellency and contact toxicity of the extracts against Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) adults were tested. Forty-four compounds, whose concentrations were more than 0.2%, were separated and identified from the MA, EA, and PE extracts. The extraction yields of trans-anethole, the most abundant biologically active compound in I. verum, were 9.7%, 7.5%, and 10.1% in the MA, EA, and PE extracts, respectively. Repellency increased with increasing extract dose. The average repellency rate of the extracts against S. zeamais adults peaked at 125.79 µg/cm(2) 72 hr after treatment. The percentage repellency of the EA extract reached 76.9%, making it a class IV repellent. Contact toxicity assays showed average mortalities of 85.4% (MA), 94.5% (EA), and 91.1% (PE). The EA extract had the lowest median lethal dose, at 21.2 µg/cm(2) 72 hr after treatment. The results suggest that I. verum fruit extracts and trans-anethole can potentially be developed as a grain protectant to control stored-product insect pests. Other active constituents in the EA extract merit further research.

Keywords: contact toxicity; gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; repellency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Illicium / chemistry*
  • Insect Repellents / analysis*
  • Insecticides / analysis*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Weevils*


  • Insect Repellents
  • Insecticides
  • Plant Extracts