Osage Orange as an insecticide?

puzzlefan(5)May 13, 2009

I have noticed that absolutely nothing will land on or eat my osage orange trees/shrubs. So I was wondering, if I were to harvest some of the leaves and turn them into a spray, would this protect my roses and fruit trees. As this would be a lot of work, I was wondering if anyone has ever tried it.

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anney(Georgia 8)


It might, but you can also save yourself some trouble and purchase orange oil to use. It will kill many insects if they come into direct contact with it. My concern would be that you'd kill beneficials with it as well as the bad guys with direct spraying.

Now if you intend it to work as an insect repellent, that's something else again, and maybe that would work. You'd need to take care not to repel pollinators.

I use orange oil as a fire-ant repellent on my shoes when I go into the garden -- they seem to love to set up housekeeping there, and I've been badly stung numerous times. Originally I bought the orange oil to spray-kill them, but then read that it kills earthworms or nearly every other insect it touches, so decided not to go that route. It works great as a repellent though.

Do some research on orange oil insecticide and orange oil insect repellent before making a final decision -- it would have the same volatiles that your Osage orange trees have.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 5:46AM
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While there is much anecdotal information about the insect repellant properties of the Osage Orange research has only found that the essential oils in the fruit will repel cockroaches and mosquitoes. There is research going on to see if these oils will repel other insects, however.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 10:09AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

anney, Osage orange is not related to citrus at all. Just so you know.

I've not seen any 'research' indicating the repellent qualities of Osage orange, Kimmsr. Please be so kind as to link us to this information.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 11:07AM
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anney(Georgia 8)


My bad! I thought they WERE related, though I knew they grew on bushes. But never go with what you've thought!

I think kimmsr probably was referring to the orange oil I mentioned.

So puzzlefan can certainly try his experiment to see if it works as a repellent.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 11:22AM
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Interesting idea! Actually, the savy northener heading south to his southern winter property should pack a basket of ripening osage orange fruit. These are carefully stored in the fridge, removed one at a time and placed under the kitchen sink, a favorite egress point for cockroaches. The ripe fruit is very attractive to roaches and they will swarm all over it. Placing the osage orange in a container onto which you can quickly slap a lid makes removal of the feasting roaches to the outside for disposal easy. I have done it many times. When living in the north I would receive requests from southern relatives to ship them osage oranges in the fall.

Perhaps insects are repelled by something in the leaves. This is a new thought to me. I would try the following experiment:

Shred leaves in water in food processor. For a starting point try 1 cup of leaves to 2 cups of water. Let sit for 24 hours, strain, add a few drops of liquid detergent with no additives and spray on a rose bush. See what happens.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 12:17PM
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Dan Staley

I also have learned to check the advice of certain folk on this board.

Nonetheless, Osage orange apparently has several compounds - elemol, osajin - that show promise for repellency. Apparently elemol in certain assay tests was better than DEET for mosquitoes.

However, there are much more simple and fast recipes for insecticides than processing material from this plant (for which the xterpenes must be isolated).


    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 12:49PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


Reading about Osage Orange characteristics, many sites claim that Osage Orange fruit is repellent to cockroaches. So I guess one's direct experience is what must be relied on. But I've noticed a LOT of sites claiming a plant is an "insecticide" for or "repellent" to various insects when the plants actually attract the insects. All this can get confusing!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 1:03PM
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anney(Georgia 8)

Sorry, I should have let you speak for yourself.

Orange oil research also shows it's both an insecticide and a repellent for at least mosquitoes and ants, and anecdotal claims are made for other insects as well.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 1:16PM
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Dan Staley

many sites claim that Osage Orange fruit is repellent to cockroaches

As do empirical studies. Perhaps the volatile compounds that are the repellents have volatilized in the case above and are no longer present in the frs.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 1:17PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Google for ~ "osage orange" site:.edu insecticide ~
does produce some hits. The top ranking hits are material related largely to, but not entirely, to cockroaches.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 4:10PM
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University of California is one place that this research has been going on and there are a couple of others that I do not recall right off. You could search as albert 135 suggests or just type in your search engines topic bar "osage orange as an insecticide". I'm surprised some people are not aware of this research that was reported in 1999.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 7:15PM
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mowermaid47(8A-N Central TX)

ok, my grandparents threw whole fruits under the house to keep out pests. Also put them in cupboards, well out of our reach. (We played war, & they HURT!)Does not work for snakes! Is everyone talking of bois d'arc, or horse apple tree? That's what I've heard called Osage Orange. I'm thinking we have 2 things here, as I have seen bushes, not trees mentioned.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 12:13PM
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