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Insecticidal Effect of Euphorbia Bupleuroides Latex on Blattella Germanica (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae)

*Corresponding Author:
Billal Nia
Department of Agronomic Sciences, University of Mohamed Khider, 07000 Biskra, Algeria
E-mail: [email protected]

Received 18th April 2016; Accepted 29th July 2016; Published 12th August 2016

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Blattella germanica is commonly found in homes, restaurants, hospitals, other large buildings, and public health implications. It has become resistant to many insecticides. Latex effect of Euphorbia bupleuroides on B. germanica mortality was tested in order to obtain a new bioinsecticides. Five concentrations (0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%) were evaluated against males, females and larvae of German cockroach under laboratory conditions. High levels of mortality of B. germanica adults and larvae were associated with the increase in the concentration and time of exposure as well.


Blattella germanica, Euphorbia bupleuroides, Insecticidal effect, Latex, Mortality


The German cockroach, B. germanica (Linnaeus, 1767), is an important pest of homes, restaurants, and commercial food processing facilities worldwide (Liu et al., 2011). They are considered as important indicators of hygiene because they can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people, and transmit several human pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and helminthes (Yeom et al., 2012). They are always associated with indoor environments such like bathrooms, kitchens, and food storage areas (Nasirian et al., 2011).

Cockroach control was especially dependent on the use of many types of insecticides (Habes et al., 2013), mainly by chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates, compounds based on pyrethroids, and carbamates (Rust et al., 1993). Excessive use of these insecticides has developed resistance (Rust & Reierson, 1991; Zhai & Robinshon, 1992) and also cause harm to humans and the environment (Gagné et al., 1999).

The search for new insecticides and ways to control the German cockroach continue because this insect remains one of the most economically and medically important pests of the urban environment.

Plants secondary metabolites are known to play a crucial role in pests control because some are selective, biodegradable, non toxic products, and have few harmful effects on non target organisms and the environment (Wink, 1993; Isman, 1995). Indeed, about 250,000 plant species in the world have been reported to contain compounds with insecticidal properties (De Silva, 2008).

The Euphorbiaceae family, which is considered one of the largest families of Angiosperms, covers about 7,800 species distributed in approximately 300 genera and 5 subfamilies worldwide. These species grow often in tropical and subtropical environments (Webster, 1994). The chemical constituents of the Euphorbiaceae family plants include triterpenoids and related compounds (sterols, alcohols and hydrocarbons), phenolic compounds (flavonoids, lignans, coumarins, tannins, phenanthrenes, quinones, phenolic acids, etc.), alkaloids, cyanogenic glucosides, and glucosinolates (Abdel-Fattah, 1987).

Euphorbia is the dominant genus which having about 2000 known species from annuals to trees. All these specie contain latex and have unique flower structure (Amir, 2006). Some of the species are used in folk medicines to cure skin diseases, gonorrhea, migraines, intestinal parasites, and warts (Singla & Pathak, 1990). Several studies showed insecticidal and pesticidal effects of Euphorbia genus (Kemassi, 2008; Ayatollahi et al., 2010; Singh, 2012).

Euphorbia bupleuroides is an herbaceous plant with simple leaves growing in mountain rock area (Quezel & Santa, 1963). It is an endemic medicinal plant of Algeria used as an ancient remedy to extirpate thorns and to treat warts. It is well known that the decoction of roots is used in Algeria with anti-inflammatory purposes (Aichour et al., 2014). Its latex is rich in triterpenes (Biesboer & Mahlberg, 1979; Yamamoto et al., 1981).

In this study, we tried to evaluate the insecticidal activity of Euphorbia bupleuroides latex against the German cockroach.

Materials and Methods

Insect rearing

Colonies of B. germanica were maintained under laboratory conditions (25°C, 50 to 70% relative humidity) with a L16:D8 h photoperiod. The cockroaches were reared in plastic containers and provided with unlimited supplies of water and biscuit (food).

Latex dilutions preparation

Euphorbia bupleuroides collected from their natural habitat around Arris, 60 km South East of the city of Batna in the East of Algeria (35°15′27″N, 6°21′3″E). This plant was identified by Dr Oudjhih from the Laboratory of Botanic, Department of Agronomy, Batna, Algeria.

Freshly plant stems were cut and brought to the laboratory in order to extract latex. These stems were let dripping from a cutting into a clean test tube.

5 latex dilutions (0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%) were prepared by adding distilled water according to the protocol of Singh (2012).

0 ml. (Control) no latex was added there is only distilled water.

25 ml latex and 75 ml of distilled water used as 25%;

50 ml latex and 50 ml of distilled water used as a 50%;

75 ml latex and 25 ml of distilled water used as a 75%;

100 ml of latex and 0 ml of distilled water used as 100%.

Toxicity test

Twenty B. germanica individuals were placed in plastic boxes to test latex insecticidal effect by ingestion. Indeed, 10 cockroaches were isolated and grouped in boxes (12 × 9 × 4.5) cm containing biscuit (food) and a water tube added with various concentrations of latex (25%, 50%, 75% and 100%) with three replications (Habbachi, 2013). Evaluation time was 28 days for adults and 21 days for larvae. Observation of dead individual numbers was made daily. Erratic movements and disorientated cockroaches were considered as early symptoms of poisoning which were followed by paralysis.

Statistical analysis

Logistic regression analysis was employed to predict the probability that a latex concentration augmentation would increase mortality of cockroaches’ individuals in different time intervals. The predictor variables were latex concentrations (25%, 50%, 75% and 100%). The Chisquare value will determine whether there is a difference between the current model and the intercept-only model. Thus, one can conclude that experience is related to programmers' success. We used the statistical program Statistica 8 (StatSoft, Inc., Tulsa, OK) for all analyses.


The Chi-square value for the difference between the current model and the intercept-only model is highly significant (0.000). Thus, one can conclude that mortality is related to latex concentrations. In fact, table 1 shows the logistic regression coefficient, Wald test and odds ratio for each of the predictors. Using a .05 criterion of statistical significance showed that all concentrations for both adults and larvae had significant partial effects (Tables 1 and 2).

Exposure time (days) Sex χ2 B χ2 Wald P Odds Ratio LC50 (%) LC90 (%)
7 M 379.94 -6.14 117.88 0 1.1 68.27% 92.66%
F 237.35 -5.01 122.64 0 1.06 79.12% 113.87%
14 M 369.28 -4.12 121.54 0 1.08 52.18% 80.03%
F 397.14 -5.44 120.84 0 1.09 59.77% 83.94%
21 M 342.43 -2.49 80.75 0 1.09 29% 54.59%
F 475.11 -5.1 93.05 0 1.13 50.96% 72.96%
28 M 351.71 -2.61 58.65 0 1.13 15.94% 39.23%
F 471.7 -4.72 94.9 0 1.14 47.22% 69.22%

Table 1: Latex toxicity on B. germanica adults (LC50 and LC90) after 7, 14, 21, and 28 days. M: Male, F: Female

Exposure time (days) χ2 B χ2 Wald P Odds Ratio LC50 (%) LC90 (%)
7 69.1 - 6.14 63.24 0.000 1.05 122.8% 142.8%
14 189.68 - 3.9 126.62 0.000 1.05 78% 97%
21 251.62 - 2.31 97.96 0.000 1.05 46.2% 65.2%

Table 2: Latex toxicity on B. germanica larvae (LC50 and LC90) after 7, 14, and 21 days.

Latex effect on adult mortality

The mortality rates of males and females are summarized in Figure 1. In fact, at a concentration of 25% there was no mortality after 7 days. However, after 14, 21 and 28 days, the mortality rate increased from 26% to 100% for males. When concentrations got more, the time required to have high level of toxicity began short. At 50% and 75%, we observed 26% and 56% mortality after 7 days, 46% and 83% after 14 days and 76 to 100% after 28 days. The highest concentration (100%) caused 100% mortality just after 7 days of exposure.


Figure 1: Mortality rates in males (M) and females (F) of B. germanica treated with different concentrations of latex.

In females, only 16% of mortality was recorded after 28 days using a concentration of 25%. The highest concentration (100%) caused 76% of mortality after 7 days and 100% mortality after 28 days of exposure (Figure 1).

Latex lethal concentrations were calculated after 7, 14, 21 and 28 days of exposure. Results showed that males are generally more sensitive to latex effect than females (Table 1). Indeed, after 28 days, the LC50 recorded was 15.94% for males and 47.22% for females whereas the LC90 was 39.23% for males and 69.22% when females were exposed to the latex.

Latex effect on the larvae mortality

The results of Figure 2 showed that the mortality rate varied with concentrations and time. In fact, after 21 days, mortality recorded was 43%, 60%, and 75% using 25%; 50%, and 75% concentrations respectively. With the highest concentration, we obtained 100% of mortality for the same time interval (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Mortality rates in B. germanica larvae treated with different concentrations of latex.

From the logit analyses, lethal concentrations were calculated after 7, 14, and 21 days of exposure. After 7 days, the LC50 was 122.8% whereas LC90 was 142.8%. In the 21st day, LC50 and LC90 recorded were 46.2% and 65.2% respectively (Table 2).


The E. bupleuroides latex was tested against common species and most widespread pest houses, restaurants, and places of food stokcage. These pests such B. germanica are considered to be more resistant to synthetic insecticides (Saito & Hama, 2000). In the literature, the Euphorbiaceae family is known for potent latex available in the most of its species leaves and barks. Vimal & Das (2014) reported that Euphorbia antiquorum (L.) latex extract showed high toxicity against Aedes aegypti (L.) larvae where LC50 value was 10.70 ml/dl after 48 hours of exposure. After 24 hours, the LD50 values for different latex fractions of 24 h were in a range of 5.0-17.613 μg/ mg while combined mixtures of Calotropis procera (Aiton) showed synergistic activity against termites and caused comparably high mortality with LD50 was 1.987- 6.016 μg/mg (Upadhyay, 2013). Larvicidal properties of Euphorbia latex against larvae of Anopheles mosquitoes were evaluated by Mwine et al. (2010). Results indicated that the latex made total mortality at the highest dilution used of 1:250 in 5 days. Lee et al. (2010) examined the insecticidal effects of Sebastiania corniculata against Laodelphax striatellus, Nilaparvata lugens, and Sogatella furcifera. The chloroform fraction of S. corniculata showed the most potential activity against L. striatellus (DL50=1.09 μg/female), N. lugens (DL50=4.46 μg/female), and S. furcifera (DL50=2.32 μg/female).

Euphorbia sp. latex is particularly rich in diterpens and triterpen esters (Khan et al., 1989; Rasool et al., 1989). They are the most relevant compounds to the toxicity and considerable biological activities which are known such insecticidal and pesticidal (Singh, 2012; Sandhyarani & Kumar, 2014; Vimal & Das, 2014). Many studies showed the amoebic effect (Tona et al., 2000), nematicide activity (Liu et al., 2014), molluscicidal activity (Bakry & Hamdi, 2009), and antitermite activity (Upadhyay, 2013).

Brunner and Isman (2001) tested the synergistic effect of 4 terpens on acute toxicity in connection with Spodoptera litura larvae. These compounds reduced growth by 20% on average 3 days after administration. Also, Roman Pavela (2010) recorded acute toxicity and mutual synergistic effect of six monoterpenoids on Spodoptera littoralis larvae with LD90 values <100 μg/larva (weight 25-30 mg). Terpens contained in an essential oils extracted from aromatic plants, were reported effective as repellent, larvicidal, pupicidal or adulticidal against different species of cockroaches (Liu et al., 2011; Sittichok et al., 2013). These compounds mode action is mainly reported to be the nervous system. Octopamine receptor and acetyl cholinesterase enzyme are two of its target sites (Kostyukovsky et al., 2002). Phorbol esters are the diterpenoids which occur naturally in many plants of the Euphorbiacaeae and Thymelaeaceae family (Goel et al., 2007). Their application at different concentrations caused significant high mortality rate on the nymph and, adult cockroaches and termites (Beninger et al., 1993; Lateef et al., 2014).


The findings of the present study suggest that Euphorbia bupleuroides latex extract may be explored as potential natural insecticidal agent against Blattella germanica. It was especially efficient against males and larvae. The latex is known to contain terpens, which are recognized by their toxicity.


The authors thank all LAPAPEZA laboratory personnel for all facilities (University of Batna, Algeria) for their help in the achievement of this work.


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