Bio-pesticidal Potentials of Calotropis Procera (AAK): A Short Review


Saqib Ali Ateel


Salman Ahmad

Ph.D. Agronomy

Calotropis Procera is an erect evergreen soft wooded shrub abundantly found in arid and semi-arid regions of South Asia, Central Asia and Africa. Calotropis Procera, commonly known as the apple of Sodom or AAK plant in Urdu, is a giant milky weed. Due to the exudation of white and sticky latex from different plant parts, some call it milkweed. Calotropis Procera can tolerate severe water deficit conditions, high temperatures and other weather extremes. It contains many compounds which have medicinal value and are traditionally used for the treatment of many diseases. It also contains some compounds that have insecticidal effects.

We have learned that applying excessive pesticides results in resistance in the target pests, killing friendly insects, increasing production costs, decreasing yield, and polluting our food and environment. Calotropis Procera was tested on whitefly as a part of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy. The IPM strategy exhausts all pest controlling methods before using chemical pesticides. It helps us not only to decrease harmful pest populations but also to maintain the quality of food with lower costs.

Pesticidal Compounds in Calotropis Procera

Some major pesticidal compounds found in AAK plant extract with their mode of action are given in Table 1

Table 1: Pesticidal mode of action of various secondary metabolites found in Calotropis Procera (AAK) plant

Sr. No.

Secondary Metabolite

Mode of Pesticidal Action




It acts as an antimicrobial agent and is effective against bacterial and fungal infections.

Sulaibi et al. (2020)



Disturb enzymes activity for larval growth

Decrease the egg-laying capacity of pest

Nukmal et al. (2017)



Promote abnormal growth

Anti-feedent agent


Scalerandi et al. (2018)



Disturb digestion and cause toxicity


Chaieb, (2010)



Retard growth by causing hormonal imbalance.

Ge et al. (2015)




Hussain et al. (2018)



Weaken natural defence system of the insects

Park & Coats (2002)



Disturb metabolism

Chaubey (2018)


Other plant growth-promoting substances

Nitrogen, Sulphur, Calcium oxalate, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Manganese, trypsin, Calotropeol, Amyrin 

Begum et al. (2013)

Scientific Evidence of Pesticidal Effects of Calotropis Procera (AAK)

  • Ashfaq et al. (2019) tested different botanical extracts on cotton whitefly under field conditions and documented significant control of whitefly adults by applying AAK leaf extract with a 6% concentration.
  • Khan et al. (2019) observed the impact of AAK plant extract on one of the most destructive stored grain pests of wheat Trogoderma granarium (khapra beetle) in a lab experiment and reported significant repellency effects and mortality of khapra beetle with this spray.
  • Arya et al. (2016) sprayed aqueous leaf extract of AAK on mustard aphids and found significant control. Interestingly, Calotropis Procera extract did not show lethal effects on aphid's natural predators, especially coccinella (ladybird beetle).
  • In an experiment on tobacco cutworms, Bakavathippan et al. (2012) observed a markable effect of AAK leaf extract spray on larval mortality of tobacco cutworms.
  • Whole AAK plant extract has been proven effective for controlling melon beetle due to repellant and antifeedant properties (Ahmad et al. 2006).
  • Srivinas et al. (1997) studied the effectiveness of AAK leaf extract against groundnut leaf spots and reported significant control of disease and an increase in crop yield.
  • Moursay et al. (1997) documented significant control on red-tailed flesh flies when sprayed with leaf extract of AAK.
  • In a laboratory experiment, Nenaah et al. (2013) observed the effects of AAK plant extract isolated latex and flavonoids on the control of stored grain pests (rice weevil) and reported a significant decrease in the rice weevil population.
  • Latex contents obtained from different parts of the AAK plant induce membrane permeability and leakage of cellular contents when applied to fungus (fusarium species) and thus acts as an antimicrobial agent in plants (Freitas et al., 2020).
  • Khan et al. (2019) observed the death of larvae and less number of eggs in Asian blue ticks when sprayed with AAK whole plant extract.     
  • Begum et al. (2011) reported the effectiveness of AAK leaf extract spray in controlling house flies at different growth stages.
  • Parihar and Balekar (2016) reported less mosquito population after aqueous spray of AAK solution mainly due to inhibitory and antifeedant effects on egg hatching and larvae, respectively.

Other Agricultural Uses of Calotropis Procera

  • It can be used as a biofuel due to more suitable quality hydrocarbons. 
  • It is an emerging source of natural high-strength fibre with thermal stability up to 2000C.
  • It acts as a phyto-accumulator of various heavy metals like lead, chromium, cobalt, nickel and aluminium and thus helps in phytoremediation.   
  • In some parts of Africa, it is also used as an ornamental plant due to the beautification and color of the flower.
  • It is also used as cheese making agent in Africa

A few Suggestions

  • It is a highly poisonous plant, so its proper dose and effects on the main crop and friend insects should be investigated.
  • Its effects on different crops under different environmental conditions are needed to be investigated.
  • The efficacy of its extract in different organic and inorganic solvents also needs to be explored.
  • Its sole application or mixing with other botanical extracts, and their synergistic and antagonistic effects, are further needed to be explored.
  • The efficacy of AAK-based biopesticides can be enhanced by involving nanotechnology techniques.


Using pesticides as a last resort to control pests is a proven strategy to reduce production costs, get more yield, and keep ourselves and the environment healthy and clean. You can use plant extracts as a practical option to achieve this goal. Calotropis Procera  (AAK)) contains natural compounds with pesticide properties and proven effective against many harmful pests. Due to its wide availability and simple biopesticide-making technique, it can easily be used in the spraying schedule of crops after the recommendation of the proper dose by the scientist.


Ahmed, U. A. M., S. Zuhua, N. H. H. Bashier, K. Muafi, H. Zhongping and G. Yuling. 2006. Evaluation of insecticidal potentialities of aqueous extracts from Calotropis procera Ait. against Henosepilachna elaterii Rossi. J. Applied Sci. 6: 2466-2470.

Al Sulaibi, M. A., Thiemann, C., & Thiemann, T. (2020). Chemical constituents and uses of Calotropis procera and Calotropis gigantea–a review (Part I–the plants as material and energy resources). Open Chemistry Journal, 7(1).

Ashfaq, N., Bashir, M. A., Noreen, M., Jameel, N., Ayoub, A., & Latif, A. (2019). Insecticidal efficiency of native plant extracts against whitefly (Bemasia tabaci) on cotton crop. Pure and Applied Biology. Vol. 8, Issue 1, pp727-732.

Bakavathippan, G. A., Baskaran, S., Parvej, M. and Jeyaparvathi, S. (2012). Effect of Calotropis procera leaf extract on Spodoptera litura (Fab.). J. Biopesticides 5:135.

Begum, N., Sharma, B. and Pandey, R. S. (2011). Insecticidal potentialof Calotropis procera and Annona squamosaethanol extract against Musca domestica. Trade Sc. Inc. 7:5th issue.

Begum, N., Sharma, B., & Pandey, R. S. (2013). Calotropis procera and Annona squamosa: potential alternatives to chemical pesticides. British Journal of Applied Science & Technology, 3(2), 254-267.

Chaieb, I. (2010). Saponins as insecticides: a review. Tunisian Journal of Plant Protection, 5(1), 39-50.

Chaubey, M. K. (2018). Role of phytoecdysteroids in insect pest management: a review. J. Agron, 17, 1-10.

Freitas, C. D. T., Silva, R. O., Ramos, M. V., Porfírio, C. T. M. N., Farias, D. F., Sousa, J. S., et al. (2020). Identification, characterization, and antifungal activity of cysteine peptidases from Calotropis procera latex. Phytochemistry 169:112163.

Hussain, M. I., Qamar Abbas, S., & Reigosa, M. J. (2018). Activities and novel applications of secondary metabolite coumarins. Planta Daninha, 36.

Kaur, A., Batish, D. R., Kaur, S., & Chauhan, B. S. (2021). An overview of the characteristics and potential of Calotropis procera from botanical, ecological, and economic perspectives. Frontiers in Plant Science, 12, 1188.

Khan, A., Nasreen, N., Niaz, S., Ayaz, S., Naeem, H., Muhammad, I., et al. (2019). Acaricidal efficacy of Calotropis procera (Asclepiadaceae) and taraxacum officinale (Asteraceae) against Rhipicephalus microplus from Mardan, Pakistan. Exp. Appl. Acarol. 78, 595–608.

Khan, S. A., Ranjha, M. H., Khan, A. A., Sagheer, M., Abbas, A., & Hassan, Z. (2019). Insecticidal efficacy of wild medicinal plants, Dhatura alba and Calotropis procera, against Trogoderma granarium (Everts) in wheat store grains. Pakistan Journal of Zoology, 51(1).

Moursey, L. E. (1997). Insecticidal activity of Calotropis procera extracts against flesh fly, Sarcophagahaemorrhoidalis Fallen. J. Egyptian Society Parasitol. 27: 505-14.

Nenaah, G. E. (2013). Potential of using flavonoids, latex and extracts from Calotropis procera (Ait.) as grain protectants against two coleopteran pests of stored rice. Ind. Crops Prod. 45, 327–334.

Nukmal, N., Rosa, E., & Kanedi, M. (2017). Insecticidal Effects of the Flavonoid-rich Fraction of Leaves Extract of Gamal (Gliricidia sepium) on the Coffee Mealybugs (Planococcus citri Risso.). Annual Research & Review in Biology, 1-9.

Parihar, G., & Balekar, N. (2016). Calotropis procera: A phytochemical and pharmacological review. Thai journal of pharmaceutical sciences, 40(3).

Park, D. S., & Coats, J. R. (2002). Cyanogenic glycosides: Alternative insecticides?. The Korean Journal of Pesticide Science, 6(2), 51-57.

Scalerandi, E., Flores, G. A., Palacio, M., Defagó, M. T., Carpinella, M. C., Valladares, G., ... & Palacios, S. M. (2018). Understanding synergistic toxicity of terpenes as insecticides: Contribution of metabolic detoxification in Musca domestica. Frontiers in plant science, 9, 1579.

Srinivas, T., Rao, M. S., Reddy, P. S. and Reddy, P. N. (1997). Integrated management of leaf spot of ground nut (Arachis hypogea L.) with botanicals and chemicals. Zeitschrift-fur-pflanzekrankheiten-und-pflanzenschutz.

Suliman, M. M. M., Hassanein, A. A., & Abou-Yousef, H. M. (2005). Efficiency of various wild plant extracts against the cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii Glov.(Aphididae: Homoptera). Acta Phytopathologica et Entomologica Hungarica, 40(1-2), 185-196.

Umsalama, A. M. Ahmad, Shi Zuhua, Nabil H. H. Bashier, Kamal Muafi, Hao Zhongping and Guo Yuling (2006). Evaluation of insecticidal potentialities of aqueous extract from Calotropis procera Ait. against Henosepilachnaelaterii Rossi. J. Appl. Sci. 6: 2466-2470.

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