In science news, a new breed of insecticides is taking a novel approach to controlling disease-carrying, crop-destroying pests: sexually frustrating the bugs to death.
While previous efforts have focused on annihilation via poison, success is usually short-lived as the animals become resistant to even the strongest insecticides.
“While [the pests] wait for us to develop even stronger poisons, surely they must chuckle to themselves as all the evidence of negative environmental and health consequences pile up,” according to the current issue of On Earth. The magazine, published by the Natural Resources Defense Council, reports that scientists can now replicate insects’ sex pheromones, chemicals that convey messages related to mating.
The synthetic pheromones, called semiochemicals, can alter or interrupt the mating messages, bewildering a male tomato pinworm “to the point of impotence,” for example.