Gas-liquid chromatography was used to analyse the saponifiable and unsaponifiable fractions of petroleum ether (PE) extracts of neem fruits and leaves. Both fractions, as well as a crude PE extract, were assayed for biological activity against third instar cotton leafworm, Spodoptera littoralis.
In neem fruits, eighty-eight percent (88%) of the saponifiable matter consisted of saturated fatty acids, while 12% was composed of unsaturated fatty acids. In the neem leaves, the corresponding proportions were 62 and 38%, respectively. Unsaponifiable matter of both fruits and leaves contained varying amounts of hydrocarbons and sterols. All the tested extracts demonstrated significant larvicidal effects against leafworm larvae. They also prolonged larval duration, caused malformations of the resulting pupae and significant adverse effects on the fecundity of resulting adults.