Can Dill Work as Insect Repellent?: Chemistry of Dill Aroma

🌿Dill is an herb with a strong, fresh aroma and is often used in fish dishes. Its aromatic components include the characteristic dill ether. The composition of the aroma molecule varies from each literature, but dill ether and limonene seem to be the major components. It would also depend on whether it is fresh or dried. In the case of fresh dill, the strongest odor was dillether, followed by limonene, which were the two main aroma components. Elsewhere, for example, when dill was pickled in vinegar, dillether and limonene accounted for about 35% of the total aroma compounds. The dill ether🌿 has a greenish scent and the limonene🍋 has a citrus scent. It is also reported that dill contains myrcene, myristicin, apiol, and phellandrene.

Dill seeds also contain a variety of aromatic compounds. However, plants do not synthesize such molecules to please humans. One of the purposes of making volatile compounds is as repellents against enemies. This means that these plants could be used as natural pesticides.

With this idea in mind, a research group in South Korea🇰🇷 has  evaluated insect repellent activity in extracts from four different Oriental medicinal plants. The bioassay-guided fractionation of each extract against the Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) revealed that dill seed extract is the most effective among them. The main components of dill seed were dillapiole (47.51%) and carvone (26.76%) and dillapiole was the key component playing an essential role in insect repellent activity.


1. “Anethum graveolens: An Indian traditional medicinal herb and spice” Pharmacognos Reviews, 2010, 4, 179.

2. “Effect of Odour-Active Compounds in Herbs on the Taste of Vinegar Dressing” 日本調理学会誌, 2017, 50, 13.

3. “Chemical components of essential oils and biological activities of the aqueous extract of Anethum graveolens L. grown under inorganic and organic conditions“ Chem. Biol. Technol. Agric. 2021, 8, 20.

4. “Isolation, screening and identification of key components having intense insect repellent activity against Plodia interpunctella from four different medicinal plant materials” J. Sci. Food Agric. 2022, 102, 1105.

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