Integrating plant essential oils and kaolin for the sustainable management of thrips and tomato spotted wilt on tomato

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $185,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: tomatoes


  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Pest Management: biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, disease vectors, economic threshold, integrated pest management, physical control, mulching - plastic, prevention


    Field and laboratory comparisons determined that the use of kaolin and plant essential oils could be a viable management alternative for some producers to the use of conventional insecticides for the management of thrips-transmitted tomato spotted wilt virus. These materials were found to act as repellents and feeding deterrents to thrips, which help to account for reduced spread of tomato spotted wilt in the field. In replicated trials, tomato plots treated with kaolin and essential oils from lemongrass or tea tree produced yields equivalent to those treated with repeated applications of conventional insecticides.

    Project objectives:

    1. 1. Compare efficacy of the plant essential oils geraniol, lemongrass oil and tea tree oil, and kaolin to standard insecticides in controlling thrips and tomato spotted wilt in tomatoes.

      2. Optimize use of kaolin and essential oils by determining how they affect thrips and their ability to transmit Tomato spotted wilt virus.

      3. Refine use of plant essential oils and kaolin in the field based on mechanisms determined in laboratory studies of Objective 2.

      4. To determine, through Cost Benefit Analysis of each field trial, the management strategies that yields the greatest financial return to the grower.

      5. Demonstrate and disseminate findings to growers, commodity groups, IPM providers, and the agrochemical industry as a means to generate greater interest in developing plant essential oils as commercial products and provide baseline data on the efficacy of plant essential oils and kaolin to control thrips and tomato spotted wilt.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.