Waste aloe vera peels may be a source of eco-friendly insecticide – New Atlas

Although the gel of the aloe vera plant is commonly used to treat sunburn, moisturize skin and boost gut health (among other applications), its peels are typically discarded. New research now suggests that those peels could also be used, to make non-toxic insecticide for use by farmers.
The study is being led by Asst. Prof. Debasish Bandyopadhyay, of the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.
His interest was first piqued when he and a colleague visited an aloe vera production center and noticed that while insects were going after the leaves of other plants, they left the waste aloe vera peels alone. This observation prompted Bandyopadhyay to take some of the peels back to his lab for chemical analysis.
The peels were initially dried in a dark, room-temperature environment, by blowing air over them – this approach was taken in order to leave the bioactivity of the peels unaltered. A number of naturally insecticidal chemicals were subsequently extracted from them, including dichloromethane and hexane.
Although those two substances are toxic, the scientists also extracted non-toxic insect-killing chemicals such as octacosanol, subenniatin B, dinoterb, arjungenin, nonadecanone and quillaic acid.
Further research will now have to be conducted in order to see how well those aloe-derived compounds work when applied to actual crops in fields. If those trials go well, use of the chemicals in spray-on mosquito or tick repellents may also be investigated.
“By creating an insecticide that avoids hazardous and poisonous synthetic chemicals, we can help the agricultural field,” said Bandyopadhyay. “But if the peels show good anti-mosquito or anti-tick activity, we can also help the general public.”
Source: American Chemical Society via EurekAlert


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