Journal of Applied Nanotechnology


Agricultural Pest Management with Plant-Derived Nanopesticides: Prospects and Challenges

Bhabesh Deka1ORCID ID, Sam Nirmala Nisha2, Chittaranjan Baruah3*ORCID ID, Azariah Babu1ORCID ID, Suman Sarkar1, Hemakanchan Phukan4 and Dhirendra K Sharma5

1North Bengal Regional R & D Centre, Tea Research Association, Nagrakata-735225, West Bengal, India

2Department of Biotechnology, VelTech Rangarajan Dr. Sagunthala R&D Institute of Science and Technology, Avadi, Chennai-600062, India

3Postgraduate, Department of Zoology, Darrang College, Tezpur- 784001, Assam, India

4Department of Zoology, JB College (Autonomous), Jorhat-785001, Assam, India

5Department of Zoology, University of Science & Technology, Meghalaya – 793101, India

*Corresponding Author: Baruah C, Postgraduate, Department of Zoology, Darrang College, Tezpur- 784001, Assam, India. E-mail:

Citation: Deka B, Nisha SN, Baruah C, Babu A, Satkar S et al. Agricultural Pest Management with Plant-Derived Nanopesticides: Prospects and Challenges. Journal of Applied Nanotechnology. 2022;1(1):1-9.


Copyright: © 2022 Baruah C, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Received On: 15th February,2022     Accepted On: 31st March,2022    Published On: 15th April,2022


Plant-based nano pesticides have been proven to be more effective in lowering insect populations and plant infection levels than conventional pesticides because of the factor that, they release the toxicants in a controlled and steady manner. For neem-derived products, it becomes cheaper and more effective to use polymer-based nano-formulations than to use other formulations.  Hence, nano pesticides have unique qualities and are administered only in small quantities, it is critical to design safe and promising formulations, with a proper delivery system for effective implementation. Environmental and human health risks, as well as their effect on non-target organisms, are major issues that haven’t been worked out yet and require immediate focus. In this mini-review paper, an attempt has been made to review the status of currently used nano pesticides in agriculture, their use, and their effects with the goal of replacing or at least minimizing the use of chemical pesticides through a safe and efficient delivery system.

Keywords: Bio-efficacy, nanopesticides, pest management, pesticide nanocarriers


Pesticides are increasingly being created using nanotechnology to reduce the hazardous effects of pesticides and make their application to plants and cereals simpler. The use of nanopesticides is growing in popularity among scientists and extension workers [1]. According to Kah et al. [2] and Rani and Sushil [3], nanopesticides are as effective as conventional pesticides in controlling pests. In the absence of nano-specific quality assurance and adequate controls, the bio-efficacy of nano-formulations in the field and their potential impacts on ecosystems may differ from laboratory tests [2]. Studies have shown that nano-formulations may reduce drift and volatile losses during application [4]. Several plant-derived products (PDP)-based biopesticides have been synthesised as nano-formulations or nanoparticles [5-10]. This will reduce chemical loads and treatment costs while increasing crop yield potential [4]. PDP nanopesticides have not yet been compared to other market products. Despite the advantages, other members of the ecosystem appear to be in danger: people and the environment [11-12]. Encapsulation and other approaches may improve PDP selectivity, bioefficacy, and longevity while reducing environmental and human impacts [13–14]. Researchers and farmers suggest using nanopesticides to protect plants for low-cost, sustainable agriculture. This mini-review will address current practises to find out whether the use of plant-derived nanopesticides against insects and mite pests has undesirable side effects, besides their efficacy in controlling them.

Materials and Methods

A thorough literature search was conducted using the Web of Science, ScienceDirect, PubMed, Google Scholar, and other online resources. The main topics of the publications sought in the field of “Agricultural and Biological Sciences” were nanotechnology, nanopesticides, plant-based nanopesticides, and insect pest control. They were also looked for in the subdomains of agronomy and crop sciences and agricultural and biological sciences (general). The original papers were given greater interest. It also discusses the writers’ research methods and how they learned about things through personal interaction.

Results and Discussion

Nanopesticides’ Potential for Agricultural Pest Management

Plant-derived products contain various compounds that may function as antifeedants, repellants, oviposition deterrents, insect growth regulators, and toxicants on pests [15]. Traditional plant-based products (crude oil, seed cake, water extracts) are used instead of commercial formulations by small-scale farmers [15]. PDP was as successful as conventional ones in several situations [16]. Similarly, essential oils (Eos) out-performed extracts in terms of bio-efficacy, possibly due to the active ingredients (AI) and other synergistic allelochemicals [17]. Hence, the ready-to-use formulations with a quick knockdown effect on insect life stages, chemical pesticides are generally used in agriculture. However, over 90% of sprayed pesticides are lost due to evaporation in air, leaching through soil, and water, the dose/concentration of AI required to kill insects typically does not reach the target to give anticipated efficacy [18-19]. However, over 90% of sprayed pesticides are lost due to evaporation in air, leaching through soil, and water, the dose/concentration of AI required to kill insects typically does not reach the target to give anticipated efficacy [18-19]. Besides, the farmers who do not follow authorized pesticide combinations, desired doses, application practices, and safety procedures will end up harming the non-target species including human beings [15]. Some prominent neonicotinoids are problematic because they are reported to kill honey bees [20]. Synthetic pesticides are always under attack by government regulatory agencies and non-profit organizations quoting the harmful effect in every agroecosystem. Green technologies (biopesticides, PDP, semi-chemicals) are replacing chemical plant protection formulations [7]. However, high temperatures and sunshine lead to rapid breakdown of molecules, limiting environmental persistence, resistance development in target species, residual toxicity, and relative non-target safety [15]. Minimizing residual effects, boosting physicochemical stability, and enhancing the efficacy of AI are the benefits of the controlled release of pesticides [19-21]. Nanopesticides are expected to be safer for non-target organisms than traditional pesticides [21-22]. They show increased biocompatibility, biodegradability, and controlled active ingredients (AI) delivery with slight modifications of polymers utilized for pest management. A few common examples of plant-based pesticides prepared using nanotechnology are listed in Table 1. Researchers employed aqueous extract, solvent extract, seed oil, and essential oils to evaluate nano pesticides on different agricultural pests and four storage pests.


Nature of nanoparticle source

Name of Ingredients

Target organisms


Plant-based encapsulated nano pesticides

Moringa oleifera seeds

Stegomya aegypti

Paula et al. (2011)[23]

Cuscuta reflexa

Cx. quinquefasciatus

Bhan et al. (2015) [24]

Plant oils

Glenn et al. (2010) [25]

Copaifera sp., oleoresin

Aedes aegypti

Kanis et al. (2012) [26]

Lippia sidiodes oil

Aedes aegypti

Paula et al. (2010) [27]

Azadirachta indica (Oil)

Cx. quinquefasciatus

Anjali et al. (2012) [28]

Artemisia arborescens (Oil)

Bemisia tabaci

Lai et al. (2006) [29]

Garlic Oil

Tribolium castaneum

Yang et al. (2009) [30]

Azadirachta indica (Oil)

Bemisia tabaci

Carvalho et al. (2012) [31]

C. reflexa

Cx. quinquefasciatus

Bhan et al. (2014) [32]


non-encapsulated nanopesticides

Nelumbo nucifera

Anopheles stephensi,

Culex quinquefasciatus

Santhoshkumar et al. (2011) [33]

Aloe vera


Anopheles stephensi

Dinesh et al. (2015) [34]

Mukia maderaspatana

Culex quinquefasciatus,

Aedes aegypti

Chitra et al. (2015) [35]

Plumeria rubra

Aedes aegypti, Anopheles


Patil et al. (2012) [36]

Table 1: List of various plant-based nanopesticides used in insect pest management (Source: Deka et al. [22]).

Nanoscience: Ethics and Potential Risks

According to Larrouturou [37], it is necessary to look into the ethical fundamentals of discoveries that allow the researchers to become good citizens by way of their desires to think of a decent living for the future generation. The idea of conquering complexity at a microscopic scale is occasionally employed as a scare tactic in the field of nanoscience. The first step in such debate is acknowledging the tremendous gap between our comprehension of a few nanometric functions and the complexity of life.

Current Issues and Challenges


The existing limitations merely cover conventional pesticides and hence, nano-formulations are distinct, new rules and guidelines are much needed. [38]. However, testing methods for synthetic pesticides may not apply to nanoparticles [39]. Tiede et al [40], Watson et al. [41], and Kookana et al. [42] summarized existing US and European laws in order to help future programs and efforts on the use of nanotechnology in pest management [42-43]. More socio-economic research is mandatory to recommend nano pesticides in crops and grains. Nature may combine nano-sized chemicals and climatic conditions that are either synergistic or antagonistic or sensitive to environmental effects [44].  


Kwankua et al. [45] found azadirachtin (Aza) nano-formulation to be cytotoxic and genotoxic to plants. Sunlight reduces toxicity to undetectable levels during plant growth. The authors in another study found no harmful effects of nanomaterials on seed germination in five vegetables and ryegrass except for Zn in ryegrass and ZnO in maize and cessation of root elongation of all plants at 2000 mg/l. Liu and Xing 2007, studied to measure the physiological effects nano-ferric oxide might have on watermelon. Other formulations including nanocapsules of neem oil was found to have no effect on the soil microbiota. It has not affected the net photosynthesis and stomatal conductance of maize plants; However, a combination of neem and oleic acid had a detrimental impact on physiological measures in maize plants [21].


In order to achieve the desired degree of pest control, nanocarrier and AI must be delivered in appropriate amounts. So, these nanopesticides’ bioavailability and durability should be evaluated [4]. Commercial products especially powders have better UV stability than encapsulated nano-formulations [46]. However, farmers prefer to use liquids formulations. Increasing solid formulation stability and persistence is difficult for manufacturers. Risks to non-target species should be reduced when encapsulating hydrophilic compounds in polymer-based nanoparticles Vrignaud et al. [47].

Toxicity to humans and animals  

Nano-formulations impair detoxification enzymes and collect non-biodegradable substances (particularly metals) that stimulate the immune system [48]. Chemotherapeutic agents may adhere to surface hairs, penetrate the human body, and change numerous physiological functions [11]. Acute and chronic inhalation and poisoning are common among pest control personnel and pose a severe health risk.

Toxicity to non-target organisms

The parasitic wasp Encarsia formosa Gahan was found to be less damaging when NO was added to polymeric nanocarriers (PCL) [49]. Earthworms and microorganisms eat plant-derived metallic nanoparticles (PMP). The ratio of free to planned AI influences nano-pesticide absorption, bioavailability, and toxicity [42]. Toxicological effects of soil microorganisms on encapsulated phytochemicals and metallic nanoparticles are currently challenged [12]. Plant debris becoming organic materials and initiating mineralization may accomplish this. Non-enzymatic chemistry creates humus in the soil. Due to microbial degradation of plant molecules that cover the surfaces of plant-derived metallic NPs, the surfaces of these NPs are exposed. This makes the PMP less effective, and the environmental toxicity of NPs made from plants may not be reduced [12].  According to Psquoto-Stgliiani et al. [21], the soil microbiota exhibited no influence after 300 days of exposure to NO-treated nanocapsules with PCL. Similarly, Kamaraj et al. [10] demonstrated 10% mortality in African earthworms, Eudrilus eugeniae (Kinberg). 100 ppm OF Neem (Azadirachta indica) gum nanoformulation (NGNF) or the Neem gum extract (NGE) showed lower mortality than 100% cypermethrin. Insecticide pyrethroid after 72 days, as nano-formulations enhanced adult earthworm biomass [10]. Aqueous surface charge, surface coating, and other characteristics could affect the behavior of nanoparticles in a biological environment. It is difficult to predict the nano-specific fate of PMP throughout processing (aggregation, surface modification, sedimentation, dissolution) [12]. However, nanopesticides may not be safe for the environment, it is critical to understand their fate and role in nanospecific activities [12].

Agricultural Pest Management Utilizing Nanoparticles as Pesticide Nanocarriers

The term “pesticide delivery system” (PDS) was coined from the drug delivery idea in medicine, in which nanoparticles (NPs) are utilized to deliver treatments to target organs [22]. PDS is intended to make AI available to a specific target for a set period and concentration in order to achieve the desired biological efficacy while limiting the negative effects on non-target organisms [19]. Controlled delivery plays a vital role in ensuring that appropriate and necessary amounts of pesticides are released at the right time [22]. The use of NPs as nanocarriers is encouraged by their qualities, such as high effective loading capacity, increased surface area, quick mass transfer to the insect’s body (target), and the ability to easily attach diverse pesticide molecules. Pesticide molecules that have been encapsulated show a more gradual release over time, requiring fewer applications. At the same time, NPs hinder the loss of pesticide potency owing to degradation. Encapsulation, adsorption, trapping inside the NP, and covalent attachment reconciled by various ligands are all used to load pesticide molecules on NPs [22] (Figure 1).

Control and slow-release features of the molecules may be achieved based on the AI’s attaching to the material, the nanocarrier’s degrading capabilities, and the environmental circumstances. Nanocarriers such as synthetic silica, polymer, titania, silver, alumina, and copper are commonly employed to carry insecticides.

Figure 1: Schematic representation of NPs for delivery of nanopesticides, A: adsorption on NP, B: attachment on NP by different linkers; C: encapsulation inside polymeric hydrophobic or hydrophilic core (polymer micelles); and D: entrapment inside polymeric nanoparticle (source: Deka et al., 2021) [22].

Nanotechnology-Based Pesticides (Nbps) and Their Special Considerations

Depending on the active component or carrier’s lipid solubility, Alvarez-Roman et al. [50] observed that cutaneous exposure to pesticides may cause localized effects or systemic absorption. The issue is whether NBPs pass through the stratum corneum and thereby affect the lower dermal layers. Hence elaborate NP research might be helpful in understanding the fact. The findings of many dermal exposure studies on titanium dioxide might be exploited to measure skin exposure to NBPs, particularly those combined with functional carriers like sunscreens. Hillyer and Albrecht [51] demonstrated that, in trials with mice, smaller particle size corresponded with increased small intestine absorption. Ingestion of NBPs may be troublesome in both occupational and domestic circumstances.

Recommendations to Assess Exposure to Nbps

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been receiving several applications to register nanosilver pesticide formulations since 2007. The EPA was able to detect pesticides that included nanoparticles from manufacturing processes and has approved at least one nanopesticide. More research and evaluations are needed, according to Stone et al. [52], to overcome the exposure issues mentioned in that study. But contemporary nanotechnology and pesticide research could directly address NBP exposure and it is obvious that ample of the preceding research on pesticides and nanomaterials may be utilized to measure NBP exposure [53].


Encapsulated plant-based nanopesticides are more stable with improved the UV stability and aqueous dispersion of the active compounds. But a safe and effective nanopesticide delivery system is the ultimate need of the end-users. Nanocapsules appear to be the ideal alternative for soil application due to their specificity and endurance. However, the high synthesis cost of NBPs has slowed progress and acceptability. Scheduling of PDP nanopesticide application based on the inputs on weather prediction and pest population dynamics will aid in precision farming. Finding new ways to make nanopesticides safe for the environment, non-target organisms and humans could assist to examine the impact of environmental changes on test methodologies and plant absorption. Refinement of the methodology would generalize the idea and a regulatory framework for plant-derived nanopesticides would be the future thrust.


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