1. Cigarette beetle
2. Paeonal
3. Chinese medicinal materials
4. Pest management
5. Volatile organic compounds


One of the universal problems that disrupt the integrity of stored products, especially tobacco and herbs, is the infestation by pest species, notably the cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricorne). The pervasive nature of this beetle and its impact on economic value calls for innovative measures to mitigate loss and preserve product quality. Integrative pest management, particularly behavioral manipulation, stands at the forefront of strategic control. However, the advancement of effective lures built on plant-based volatile organic compounds (VOCs) marks a new era in targeted pest control. This article delves into groundbreaking research delineating the behavioral paradigm of L. serricorne in response to alluring VOCs from selected Chinese medicinal materials (CMMs) and the leading compound paeonal.


CMMs, renowned for their therapeutic benefits, are also a favored target of L. serricorne. A promising approach to subdue these pests is to explore their natural chemotaxis—movement directed by chemical stimuli. Although synthetic pesticides have dominated the sphere of pest control, their detrimental environmental impact coupled with the resilience witnessed in pest species has urged the pivot towards botanicals that are non-toxic to humans and beneficial insects while being pest-specific. Previous studies (Kim et al., 2003; Jovanović et al., 2007) highlight the potential of natural plant extracts as grain protectants, emphasizing the must for sustainable alternatives.

The Study

The recent study conducted by Cao Yu Y and colleagues (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-43198-3), published in Scientific Reports, takes a stride forward by exploring the olfactory responses of L. serricorne to VOCs emitted by CMM species—Euphorbia kansui, Aconitum carmichaelii, Eucommia ulmoides, and Pinellia ternata. The identification of a predominant VOC, paeonal, as a highly effective attractant is significant in developing innovative control strategies. The authors evaluated the attractiveness of paeonal in doses that exhibit the most significant response from the beetles.

Findings and Implications

The publication uncovers a remarkable preference of L. serricorne for the CMM E. kansui, a response credited to the VOCs composition, notably paeonal. The positive chemotaxis towards paeonal by L. serricorne has pivotal implications for pest control within storage facilities. By harnessing this inherent attraction to paeonal, novel monitoring and control tools, such as lure-and-kill methods, may be developed, deploying paeonal as an effective “bait” to entrap and eradicate cigarette beetles in a manner that is environmentally benign and economically feasible.

Future Directions

The study could potentially spark a significant turning point in pest management strategies, emphasizing the role of ecological chemistry in understanding insect behavior. Future research may focus on the mechanistic understanding of the olfactory system in L. serricorne and the longevity and potency of paeonal-based lures in different environmental conditions. Moreover, the scalability of such lures in larger storage facilities and their effectiveness against a broader spectrum of stored-product pests could be examined.

Ethical Considerations and Safety

The authors of the study declare no competing interests, reflecting the integrity of the research. Additionally, the suggested pest control methods align with a growing consensus on the use of eco-friendly pesticides. By leveraging naturally occurring compounds like paeonal, the research advances in pest management can be implemented without disrupting ecological harmony.


1. Kim S, Park C, Ohh MH, Cho HC, Ahn YJ. (2003). “Contact and fumigant activity of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils against Lasioderma serricorne (Coleoptera: Anobiidae).” J Stored Prod Res. 39: 11–19. DOI: 10.1016/S0022-474X(02)00013-9.
2. Jovanović Z, Kostić M, Popović Z. (2007). “Grain protective properties of herbal extracts against the bean weevil Acanthoscelides obtectus Say.” Ind Crop Prod. 26: 100–104. DOI: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2007.01.010.
3. Cao Yu Y, et al. (2019). “Innate positive chemotaxis to paeonal from highly attractive Chinese medicinal herbs in the cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne.” Sci Rep. 9: 6995. DOI:10.1038/s41598-019-43198-3.
4. Lü J, Liu S. (2016). “The behavioral response of Lasioderma serricorne (Coleoptera: anobiidae) to citronellal, citral, and rutin.” Springerplus. 5(1): 798. DOI: 10.1186/s40064-016-2553-2.
5. Benelli G, Pavela R. (2016). “Essential oils as ecofriendly biopesticides? Challenges and constraints.” Trends Plant Sci. 21: 1000–1007. DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.10.005.

In conclusion, the study by Cao Yu Y et al. provides a robust framework for exploiting the natural chemotactic behavior of L. serricorne as a means of eco-friendly and effective pest management. The identification of VOCs, particularly paeonal, as a primary attractant opens up exciting prospects for the development of sustainable pest control methods. This approach aligns with the global agenda to promote a greener and safer pest management practice, minimizing the reliance on hazardous chemicals and embracing the potential of plant-derived compounds.

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Last Update: February 10, 2024