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Study says herbs can act as 'natural pesticides'

By Bob Ewing     Aug 17, 2009 in Environment
University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers report that well know culinary herbs can be used as natural pesticides.
The Breaking News 24/7 reports commonly used rosemary, thyme, clove and mint provide natural protection against garden invaders.
“We are exploring the potential use of natural pesticides based on plant essential oils — commonly used in foods and beverages as flavourings,” said study presenter Murray Isman of UBC.
The herb-based pesticides, at the moment, work in two different ways: some kill insects outright, while others repel them.
The pesticides are made usually by mixing tiny amounts of two to four different herbs which are diluted in water.
The researchers have tested many plant essential oils and found that they have a broad range of insecticidal activity against pests.
There are already herb-based products on the market and they are being used to protect organic strawberry, spinach, and tomato crops against destructive aphids and mites.
“These products expand the limited arsenal of organic growers to combat pests. They’re still only a small piece of the insecticide market, but they’re growing and gaining momentum,” he said.
The natural pesticides do not require extensive regulatory approval and are readily available. This gives them an advantage over other products developed for the same or similar purposes.
There is a downside as essential oils tend to evaporate quickly and degrade rapidly in sunlight. This requires farmers to apply the spice-based pesticides to crops more frequently than conventional pesticides.
The researchers are exploring methods to increase the longevity of the herbal pesticides.
More about Herbs, Natural pesticides, Vegetables