The sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari Zehntner (Hemiptera: Aphididae), is the main pest of sorghum, Sorghum bicolor L. Moench (Poaceae), in Mexico. To control this insect, farmers currently use synthetic chemical insecticides, which are toxic to humans and biodiversity. However, natural products are a promising potential source of safer alternative means to control different agricultural pests. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the insecticidal effect of contact by fumigation of pure molecules of four commercial fatty acids (palmitic, stearic, pentadecanoic, and linoleic acids), the phytosterol β-sitosterol, and the flavonoid rutin. The results showed that fatty acids were the most effective against M. sacchari; the highest mortality rate (85%) was produced by linoleic acid and the mean lethal concentration was 1,181 ppm, followed by stearic and palmitic acids with 74 and 63% mortality, respectively, at a concentration of 2,500 ppm at 72 h. The positive control, imidacloprid, had 100% mortality in 24 h and the Tween 20, negative control, exhibited 4% mortality in 72 h. Our results show that commercial fatty acids are effective against adults of M. sacchari and can be considered an environmentally friendly alternative to the frequent use of synthetic chemical insecticides.

  • Linoleic, palmitic, and stearic acids are effective against M. sacchari.

  • Linoleic acid is a powerful insecticidal compound against M. sacchari.

  • The rutin flavonoid has low insecticidal effectiveness against M. sacchari.

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