The information in this profile may be out-of-date. It was last revised
in 1996. EXTOXNET no longer updates this information, but it may be useful
as a reference or resource.
Please visit the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) to find
updated pesticide fact sheets.
If you don't find a fact sheet related to
your question, feel free to call 1-800-858-7378.
NPIC is open five days
a week from 7:30am to 3:30pm Pacific Time.
E X T O X N E T
Extension Toxicology Network
Pesticide Information Profiles
A Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Oregon State University, the
University of Idaho, and the University of California at Davis and the Institute for Environmental Toxicology, Michigan
State University. Major support and funding was provided by the USDA/Extension Service/National Agricultural Pesticide
Impact Assessment Program.
EXTOXNET primary files maintained and archived at Oregon State University
TRADE OR OTHER NAMES: The active ingredient azadirachtin is found in commercial insect growth regulators. Some
trade names for products containing azadirachtin include Align, Azatin and Turplex (231, 232). Formulations include a 10%
plant extract (technical) and a 3% EC (232).
REGULATORY STATUS: Azadirachtin is registered in the United States as a general use pesticide with a toxicity
classification of IV (relatively non-toxic). Check with specific state regulations for local restrictions which may apply.
Products containing azadirachtin must bear the signal word "Caution" or "Warning" on their label (231).
CHEMICAL CLASS: Tetranortriterpenoid
INTRODUCTION: The key insecticidal ingredient found in the neem tree is azadirachtin, a naturally occurring substance
that belongs to an organic molecule class called tetranortriterpenoids (236). It is structurally similar to insect hormones
called "ecdysones," which control the process of metamorphosis as the insects pass from larva to pupa to adult.
Metamorphosis requires the careful synchrony of many hormones and other physiological changes to be successful, and
azadirachtin seems to be an "ecdysone blocker." It blocks the insect's production and release of these vital hormones.
Insects then will not molt, thus breaking their life cycle (234, 235). Azadirachtin may also serve as a feeding deterrent for
some insects. Depending on the stage of life-cycle, insect death may not occur for several days. However, upon ingestion of
minute quantities, insects become quiescent and stop feeding. Residual insecticidal activity is evident for 7 to 10 days or
longer, depending on insect and application rate (231, 232). Azadirachtin is used to control whiteflies, aphids, thrips, fungus
gnats, caterpillars, beetles, mushroom flies, mealybugs, leafminers, gypsy moths and others on food, greenhouse crops,
ornamentals and turf (232, 241).
- Acute Toxicity: The acute oral toxicity in rats fed technical grade azadirachtin ranged from greater than 3,540 mg/kg to
greater than 5,000 mg/kg, the highest dose tested when administered undiluted to albino rats (231, 232, 233). The
single-dose oral toxicity LD50 of the formulated product Azatin-EC fed to rats was 4,241 mg/kg; considered practically
nontoxic (238). The acute inhalation toxicity study in rats exposed to technical azadirachtin showed that the acute
inhalation LD50 is greater than 2.41 mg/L per animal, the highest dose tested. Although this figure is below the 5.0 mg/L
limit test dose for an acute inhalation study, the reported concentration was the maximum dose possible under the test
conditions. No deaths occurred during the course of the study. Azadirachtin was given a toxicity classification of
Category III (233). The 4-hour acute inhalation LC50 in rats exposed to the formulated product Azatin-EC was >2.18
mg/kg (238). A primary eye irritation study in rabbits exposed to technical azadirachtin was rated mild to moderately
irritating after instillation of 0.1 gm of the undiluted material. At one hour post-instillation, the maximum eye irritation
score was 15.3/110; by 24, 48, and 72 hours the scores were 6.2/110, 0.3/110, and 0/110, respectively. It was given a
toxicity category of III (233). Primary dermal irritation in rabbits when tested at a single dose (0.5 gm) by applying it to
the shaved backs of rabbits, did not cause any dermal irritation after 4 hours of exposure. The dermal score was zero for
all treated rabbits at all examination times. A toxicity category of IV, mild to slightly irritating,was assigned. An acute
dermal toxicity study of rabbits exposed to technical azadirachtin was performed. The material was applied for 24 hours
at a single dose of 2.0 gm/kg to the shaved backs of the rabbits, that caused dermal irritation which resolved by day nine.
Azadirachtin was classified as a mild irritant (233). Another study reported the dermal LD50 for rabbits to be >2,000
mg/kg (231, 232). Dermal sensitization in guinea pigs found the technical end-use product to be categorized as a mild
sensitizer when administered undiluted to albino guinea pigs. The test material was considered a weak dermal sensitizer
to albino guinea pigs (233).
- Chronic Toxicity: A 90-day oral toxicity study in rats fed levels of 500, 2500, and 10,000 ppm of azadirachtin showed
no signs of overt systemic toxicity at any dose level after 90 days of feeding. Mean body weight was significantly
decreased in the 10,000 ppm males and females at weeks 3 and 4, respectively. This persisted for the duration of the
90-day feeding period (241).
- Reproductive Effects: Male antifertility activity of neem leaf extract was studied in mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs
by daily oral feeding of a cold-water extract of fresh green neem leaves. The infertility effect was seen in treated male rats
as there was a 66.7% reduction in fertility after 6 weeks, 80% after 9 weeks, and 100% after 11 weeks. There was no
inhibition of spermatogenesis. During this period there was no decrease in body weight and no other manifestation of
toxicity observed. There was a marked decrease in the mortality of spermatozoa. The infertility in rats was not associated
with loss of libido or with impotence and the animals maintained normal mating behavior. The male antifertility activity
was reversible in 4 to 6 weeks. Neem extract also shows reversible male antifertility activity in mice without inhibition of
spermatogenesis. In guinea pigs and rabbits, however, it exhibited toxicity as demonstrated by 66.6% and 74.9%
mortality in guinea pigs and 80 and 90% mortality in rabbits at the end of 4 and 6 weeks, respectively (239).
- Teratogenic Effects: No information was found.
- Mutagenic Effects: Technical azadirachtin was evaluated for the potential to cause gene mutations in the S.
typhimurium strains at any dose (235, 50, 500, 5,000 micrograms/plate) with or without S-9 activation. The study was
negative (233). The Ames test was negative with or without metabolic activation for the formulated product Azatin-EC.
The UDS and Mouse Lymphoma studies were also negative (238).
- Carcinogenic Effects: No information was found.
- Organ Toxicity: Rats dosed with 600 mg/kg/day of the formulated product Azatin-EC for 90 days showed no overt
adverse effects on target organs (238).
- Fate in Humans and Animals: No information was found.
- Effects on Birds: No significant effects on other wildlife were reported (238).
- Effects on Aquatic Organisms: The formulated product Azatin-EC is not expected to kill fish at recommended rates.
The LC50 for rainbow trout exposed to azadirachtin is 0.48 ppm (241). It may cause significant fish kill if large
concentrations reach waterways. It breaks down rapidly (in 50-100 hours) in water or light, and is not likely to
accumulate or cause long-term effects (238, 241).
- Effects on Other Animals (Nontarget species): Azadirachtin is relatively harmless to spiders, butterflies, and insects
such as bees that pollinate crops and trees, ladybugs that consume aphids, and wasps that act as parasites on various crop
pests. This is because neem products must be ingested to be effective. Thus, insects that feed on plant tissue succumb,
while those that feed on nectar or other insects rarely contact significant concentrations of neem products. Another study
found that only after repeated spraying of highly concentrated neem products onto plants in flower were worker bees at
all affected. Under these extreme conditions, the workers carried contaminated pollen or nectar to the hives and fed it to
the brood. Small hives then showed insect-growth-regulating effects; however, medium-sized and large bee populations
were unaffected (234). A study of neem products and their effect on mortality, growth and reproduction of earthworms
in soils was conducted. Positive effects on weight and survival were found in soil treated with ground neem leaves and
ground seed kernals under greenhouse conditions. Reproduction was slightly favored over a period of 13 weeks in a
neem-enriched substrate in rearing cages. Various neem products were incorporated in the upper 10-cm soil layer of
tomato plots. None of the materials had negative side effects on seven species of earthworms (240). No significant
effects on other wildlife were reported (238).
- Breakdown of Chemical in Soil and Groundwater: Potential for mobility in soil is very low for the formulated
product Azatin-EC. Accumulation in the environment is not expected (238).
- Breakdown of Chemical in Surface Water: The formulated product Azatin-EC which contains the active ingredient
azadirachtin is considered a water pollutant. It breaks down rapidly (in 100 hours) in water or light, and will not cause
long-term effects (238).
- Breakdown of Chemical in Vegetation: Azadirachtin is considered non-phytotoxic when used as directed (232).
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES AND GUIDELINES
- Appearance: It is a yellow-green powder, with a strong garlic-sulfur odor.
- Chemical Name: azadirachtin (231)
- CAS Number: 11141-17-6
- Molecular Weight: 720.7
- Water Solubility: 0.00005 (231)
- Solubility in Other Solvents: Not Available
- Melting Point: Not Available
- Vapor Pressure: >2 mmHg @ 25 degrees C (Azatin-EC) (238); 44mm @ 20 degrees C (Margosan-O) (237)
- Partition Coefficient: 12.3; partitioning from water to oil is relatively high (Azatin-EC) (238)
- Adsorption Coefficient: Not Available
- ADI: Not Available
- MCL: Not Available
- RfD: Not Available
- PEL: Not Available
- HA: Not Available
- TLV: Not Available
AgriDyne Technologies Inc.
2401 S. Foothill Dr.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84109
- Phone: 800-657-3090
- Fax: 801-467-1090
References for the information in this PIP can be found in Reference List Number 10
DISCLAIMER: The information in this profile does not in any way replace or supersede the information on the pesticide
product label/ing or other regulatory requirements. Please refer to the pesticide product label/ing.