• Ceratitis capitata;
  • citrus fruits;
  • essential oils;
  • hydrocarbon monoterpenes;
  • limonene;
  • oxygenated monoterpenes;
  • pinene;
  • toxicity


Citrus peel essential oils are considered to constitute the most important resistance factor of citrus fruits against fruit flies. Essential oils were obtained from three sweet orange varieties, one bitter orange and one lemon variety. Yield, chemical composition and toxicity against neonates of the Mediterranean fruit fly were determined. Based on chemical analysis, the toxicity of commercially purchased major and minor components (monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes) of essential oils was determined. In addition, fractions were prepared to evaluate the role of minor components in the toxicity of crude essential oils. Limonene was by far the most abundant ingredient (96.2–97.4%) in all sweet orange varieties and in bitter orange, while the concentration of limonene was much lower in lemon essential oils (74.3%). Orange and bitter orange essential oils were more toxic than lemon essential oils. The toxicity of orange and bitter orange essential oils was similar to that of their major component limonene. In tests of commercially purchased chemicals, the oxygenated components of essential oils were more toxic than hydrocarbons but their low concentration in citrus essential oils could not affect the toxic activity of essential oils. The presence of α-pinene and β-pinene seems to account for the lower toxicity of lemon essential oils in relation to other citrus essential oils. The importance of understanding the toxicity of essential oils in relation to their composition and their role regarding the resistance of citrus fruits to Ceratitis capitata infestation is discussed.