Curcuma longa has well-known insecticidal and repellent effects on insect pests, but its impact on Trichoplusia ni is unknown. In this study, the compound ar-turmerone, extracted and purified from C. longa rhizomes, was identified, and its insecticidal effects, along with turmeric powder, curcuminoid pigments and crude essential oil were evaluated against this important agricultural pest. The role of natural (sesamol and piperonal) and synthetic [piperonyl butoxide (PBO)] synergists under laboratory and greenhouse conditions were also evaluated. The concentration of ar-turmerone in C. longa rhizomes harvested was 0.32% (dwt). Turmeric powder and its derivatives caused 10–20% mortality in third instar T. ni at a very low dose (10 μg/larva). Addition of PBO increased toxicity of turmeric powder and its derivatives (90–97% mortality) in most binary combinations (5 μg of turmeric powder or its derivatives +5 μg of PBO), but neither piperonal nor sesamol were active as synergists. The compound ar-turmerone alone and the combination with PBO reduced larval weight on treated Brassica oleracea in the laboratory and in greenhouse experiments, compared with the negative control. The compound ar-turmerone could be used as a low-cost botanical insecticide for integrated management of cabbage looper in vegetable production.
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