Activity of Ajuga iva extracts against the African cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis

Leena Taha-Salaime, Galina Lebedev, Jackline Abo-Nassar, Sally Marzouk, Moshe Inbar, Murad Ghanim, Radi Aly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Control of the crop pest African cotton leafworm, Spodoptera littoralis (Boisduval), by chemical insecticides has led to serious resistance problems. Ajuga plants contain phytoecdysteroids (arthropod steroid hormone analogs regulating metamorphosis) and clerodanes (diterpenoids exhibiting antifeedant activity). We analyzed these compounds in leaf extracts of the Israeli Ajuga iva L. by liquid chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-TOF-MS) and thin-layer chromatography (TLC), and their efficiency at reducing S.littoralis fitness. First and third instars of S. littoralis were fed castor bean leaves (Ricinus communis) smeared with an aqueous suspension of dried methanolic crude extract of A. iva phytoecdysteroids and clerodanes. Mortality, larval weight gain, relative growth rate and survival were compared to feeding on control leaves. We used '4', 6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI, a fluorescent stain) and phalloidin staining to localize A. iva crude leaf extract activity in the insect gut. Ajuga iva crude leaf extract (50, 100 and 250 µg/µL) significantly increased mortality of first-instar S. littoralis (36%, 70%, and 87%, respectively) compared to controls (6%). Third-instar larval weight gain decreased significantly (by 52%, 44% and 30%, respectively), as did relative growth rate (-0.05 g/g per day compared to the relevant controls), ultimately resulting in few survivors. Crude leaf extract (250 µg/µL) reduced gut size, with relocation of nuclei and abnormal actin-filament organization. Ajug iva extract has potential for alternative, environmentally safe insect-pest control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number726
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number11
StatePublished - 23 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Ajuga iva
  • Clerodane
  • Pest control
  • Phytoecdysteroid
  • Spodoptera littoralis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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