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Research Article

Anti-termitic Activity of Aqueous Extracts from Saharan Toxic Plants Against Anacanthotermes ochraceus

Y. Bourmita, A. Cheriti, M. Didi Ould El Hadj, K. Mahmoudi and N. Belboukhari
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In Algeria Sahara, Anacanthotermes ochraceus is among the most devastating termite pests, it cause great damage to house hold materials and agriculture in oasis. The objective of this study was to evaluate Saharan plants extracts for their termiticidal activities against Anacanthotermes ochraceus in a research programme for effective, environment and eco-friendly termite control agents. This study investigate, the anti-termitic activity of aqueous extracts from different part of four Saharan plants (Calotropis procera, Hyoscyamus muticus, Pergularia tomentosa and Datura stramonium) against termite workers using direct contact application. All the crude extracts showed significant anti-termitic activity in a different doses and the mortality, among various aqueous extracts were statistically different (p<0.05). The highest termite mortality (50%) was found in leaves extract of Calotropis procera. This results is the first report on the search of termiticidal natural compounds extracts against the Saharan Anacanthotermes ochraceus, it can open the possibility of further investigations on eco-friendly termite control agents.

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Y. Bourmita, A. Cheriti, M. Didi Ould El Hadj, K. Mahmoudi and N. Belboukhari, 2013. Anti-termitic Activity of Aqueous Extracts from Saharan Toxic Plants Against Anacanthotermes ochraceus. Journal of Entomology, 10: 207-213.

DOI: 10.3923/je.2013.207.213

Received: April 25, 2013; Accepted: May 20, 2013; Published: November 06, 2013


Termites are highly destructive insects; a termite can cause significant economic damages from paper fabrics to wood constructions. It also constitutes a serious menace to agriculture and forestry (Verma et al., 2009). Although, termites are part of a long “Superorder” that includes cockroaches, they are classified separately in a group called “Isoptera” and a new family called “Termicidae”. In another hand these pest insects are a large and diverse group consisting of over 2500 species worldwide (Elango et al., 2012).

It is well know that excessive uses of pesticides for termites control is detrimental to environment and create several problems such as phytotoxicity, mammalian toxicity, insect resistance, pesticides residues in soil and water (Badshah et al., 2004).

A great number of plants over 1000 species have been studied to search the insecticidal phyto-compounds from their leaves, stems, flowers, seeds and roots. However, only a few of them have been used for practical insect control on commercial scale in the past. The chemical poisons of plants are mostly alkaloids. Various Scientists have studied different plant extracts for their toxicity, attractancy and repllency in various natural products against different termites and insect spp. (Badshah et al., 2004).

In fact, Natural anti-termitic compounds may be very useful. They have different types of activity against different species of termites (Haouas et al., 2011). Toxic plants constitute a source of many natural compounds presenting pesticidal activities (Sakasegawa et al., 2003; Jembere et al., 2005).

Due to the damage caused by the Saharan termite Anacanthotermes ochraceus to house hold materials and agriculture in oasis and in continuation of our research programme in the valorisation of Saharan plants. The objective of this study was to evaluate Saharan plants extracts for their termiticidal activities against Anacanthotermes ochraceus for the research of environment and eco-friendly termite control agents. Thus, this study focused on the anti-termitic effect of aqueous extract from different part of four Algerian Sahara plants (Calotropis procera, Hyoscyamus muticus, Pergularia tomentosa and Datura stramonium) against Anacanthotermes ochracus workers.


Collection of insects, experimental and biological specimens: The termite species, Anacanthotermes ochraceus (F/Hodotermitidae, sub.F/Hodotermitinae: Isoptera) (Logan et al., 1999; Logan and El-Bakri, 1990); were collected from infected logs found at the arid area of LAHMAR district, Bechar (31°.56'.0,01"N and 2°.15'.34,95"W) (Fig. 1). Using a trapping technic (Salihah et al., 1993). The colony was reared in an incubator at 26±2°C, 75±5% Relative Humidity (RH). Water and newspaper were used as food source. After separating from soil and debris, they were identified with the help of the taxonomic keys used by the Research Center in Arid Areas Beni abbes, Bechar (Algeria).

Plant materials and extraction: Plants were collected in October 2010 from an experimental station of plant and zoological experiments near LAHMAR district (north of Bechar).

Image for - Anti-termitic Activity of Aqueous Extracts from Saharan Toxic Plants Against 
  Anacanthotermes ochraceus
Fig. 1(a-f): Experimental station (natural colony of termite)

The botanical identification and voucher specimens were conserved at Phytochemistry and Organic Synthesis Laboratory (POSL) herbarium, University of Bechar, Algeria under to accession No. CA04/02 Calotropis procera, Asclépiadaceae, CA00/43 Hyoscyamus muticus, Solanaceae, CA00/44 Pergularia tomentosa, Asclépiadaceae and CA00/50 Datura stramonium, Solanaceae (Cheriti, 2000, 2002).

The leaves, stems, fruits and flowers were separated and oven air-dried (overnight) the plants were grounded into powder using a grinder. Extraction was done using a reflux apparatus. several aqueous solutions were prepared from different parts of plants at variable dilutions at 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5%. Then the extracts were filtered and stored at 5°C.

Anti-termitic bioassay: Force-feeding tests were conducted in the Petri dishes for both termite spp., Petri dishes were sterilized in an oven at 200°C for 2 h. The no-choice bio-essay method (Kang et al., 1990; Cheng et al., 2007) was employed to evaluate the anti-termitic activity of the four plant extracts during preliminary screening.

A piece of filter papers samples (Whatman No. 3, 8.5 cm in diameter) treated with bi-distilled water was used as a control. After the bi-distilled water was removed from the treated filter papers by air-drying at ambient temperature, 10 active termites (workers) above the third instars were put on each piece of filter paper in Petri dishes (9 cm in diameter, 1.5 cm in height). The dishes with covers were then placed in an incubator at 28±2°C, 75±5% RH. A few drops of water were periodically dripped on the bottom edge of each Petri dish. Four replications were made for each test sample and the mortality percentage of the termites was counted for 1 min and each 30-360 min. However, at the end of each time span the selected test samples turned out to be equal in their toxic potential.

Statistical analysis: The average termite mortality data were subjected to probits analysis for calculating LT50 (Ould El-Hadj et al., 2006), by using the Schneider formula (Abbott, 1925; Finney, 1971):

Image for - Anti-termitic Activity of Aqueous Extracts from Saharan Toxic Plants Against 
  Anacanthotermes ochraceus

MC = Corrected mortality (%)
M2 = Mortality in the treated population (%)
M1 = Mortality in the control population (%)

Standard deviations chi-square, t-significance, correlation and ANOVA were calculated and analyzed using the software (Graph pad prism version 5.01); Results with p<0.05 were considered statistically significant.


Toxic and repellent responses of various aqueous extracts from Calotropis procera, Hyoscyamus muticus, Datura stramonium, Pergularia tomentosa were evaluated against Algerian saharan termite Anacanthotermes ochraceus. For this purpose, insects were treated with increasing doses of both extracts separately. The mortality rate was found dose-and time-dependent as it was found to be increasing with the increase in dose and exposure duration. The TL50 values for different extracts of 360 min are given in Table 1.

Table 1: Effects of different concentrations of plants extract activities on the mortality lethal time of 50% of the population
Image for - Anti-termitic Activity of Aqueous Extracts from Saharan Toxic Plants Against 
  Anacanthotermes ochraceus

The results revealed two important aspects of toxicological inference TL50 irrespective of medium for feeding, movement was almost equal and non-significant depending upon fiducial limits. TL50 using aqueous extract was shorter than that of other extracts. Many studies have shown activity of plant extracts when applied on filter paper and/or mixed in soil to determine mortality (Jembere et al., 2005) and concluded that plant extracts have the potential for under- and above-ground application for termite control.


In this study, the effect of four toxic plants extract have evaluated on the causal agent of degradation of wood and cellulose part of plants, this insect is considered as the second telluric ravager after fusarium fungi of the date palm tree “Phoenix dactylifera L.” in sahara (Boulenouar et al., 2012).

The used toxic plants Calotropis procera, Hyoscyamus muticus, Datura stramonium and Perlgularia tomentosa extracts have an anti-termitic activity. Three different concentration extracts have a similar TL50 (Table 1), respectively Calotropis procera leave (5%) TL50 = 54, 24 min, Calotropis procera Stem (5%) TL50 = 58,54 min and Pergularia tomentosa leave (4%) TL50 = 94,97 min while Calotropis procera Stem (3%) TL50 = 110,43 min (Table 1), Datura stramonium fruit (3%) TL50 = 161, 78 min, Calotropis procera Stem (2%) TL50 = 234, 69 min and Hyoscyamus muticus leave (2%) TL50 = 238, 49 min.

The traditional use of toxic plants as a pesticide is greatly justified. The termicide activity of the extract increase with increasing of concentration of the extract, except in the most toxic extract which is more effective in lower concentrations (Giridhar et al., 1988).

Badshah et al. (2004) observed toxic effects of C. procera extracts against H. indicola and C. heimi and Singh et al. (2002) reported a great termicidal activity against O. obesus.

Concerning the action mode of the toxic plant extract, contact and inhalation are the main factors of effectiveness. They can be also transmitted in the colony during social tasks however, they do not, act when ingested and are appetite inhibiting for termites.

Nevertheless when developing a new bio-insecticide to meet regulatory requirements, it is necessary to have an understanding the degree of the toxicity of the bio-insecticides to the target insect pests (Lee et al., 2003).

The aqueous plant extracts can be a good termicide, but field trials with suitable formulations need to be carried out to further assess the efficacies of these plant extracts. It would be interesting to determine the lowest concentration of these plant extract at which they are still effective as fumigants or through solution contact and to study the effects of combining components to identify potential synergisms and antagonisms (Gillij et al., 2008).

It was reported that termite are strongly repelled by the toxic material to the extent that they will starve rather than consume cross treated simples and when kept close to the extract, they become disoriented and eventually die (Osipitan and Oseyemi, 2012).

Three species of flagellated protists (Spirotrichonympha leidyi, Holomastigotoides hartmanni and Pseudotrichonympha grassii) are found in the hindgut of Formosan subterranean termites. Ohmura et al. (2000) and Doolittle et al. (2007) investigated a the ability of three natural products (neem extract, capsaicin and gleditschia) to reduce the number of microbes (S. leidyi, H. hartmanni, P. grassii and P. spirochaetes) present in the hindgut of the Formosan subterranean termite. Neem extract significantly reduced the population of P. grassi and P. spirochaetes and was found to be most potent at (1 ppm) concentration, causing 100% termite mortality. Anthracenes, anthrones, anthraquinones and xanthones (Rudman and Gay, 1963) act as deterrents, monoterpenoids, alkaloids and toxic hydrocarbons (Cornelius et al., 1997) and plant flavonoids and related compounds have both toxic and anti-feedant effects against termites (Ohmura et al., 2000; Boue and Raina, 2003).


The screening results suggest that Calotropis procera, Pergularia tomentosa are promising in termite control. It may be used as environment friendly and sustainable insecticides to combat termites take protection from them. Plant extracts should be exploited to develop new wood preservatives to protect wooden structures, agricultural crops, plants and trees, as these are less harmful to the environment and humans. Further, short and long-term field studies are required to use them as commercial termiticides. Finally, laboratory bioassays with a range of plant extracts in particular, indicated the potential use of some of them as termiticides.


This research was supported by MESRS Algeria grant. The authors would like to thank Pr. A. Marouf from Naama University for plants botanical identification.


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