Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Termites repelled by catnip oil

26.03.2003


Known for its intoxicating effects on felines, catnip oil may also have a future in termite control. Recent experiments by USDA Forest Service researcher Chris Peterson show that catnip oil repels and even kills termites in a laboratory setting.


Caption: Subterranean termite workers (Reticulitermes sp.)



Peterson, a researcher with the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), and fellow researcher Janice Ems-Wilson, a chemist at Valencia Community College in Orlando, FL, presented the results of their research at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society held March 23 – 27 in New Orleans.

An entomologist with the SRS Wood Products Insect Research unit in Starkville, MS, Peterson has been testing essential catnip oil as a possible replacement for the more toxic pesticides presently used to control termites. Probably the most common termite control method is treating the soil next to wood structures with chemical compounds: some of the active ingredients of traditional termiticides, such as chlordane and chlorpyrifos, have lost their registrations in the U.S. due to their toxicity. New, more eco-friendly compounds are being sought to fill the void.


The search for new termiticidal products is active. "The USDA Forest Service routinely tests about three new termite formulations for effectiveness every year, with a new active ingredient tested about once in every two years," said Peterson. "Natural compounds from plants, bacteria, and fungi could provide new commercial products that are less toxic to humans and the environment."

For their termite study, Peterson and Ems-Wilson infused sand with catnip essential oil--the kind routinely sold in pet stores--to test the effectiveness of the oil as a barrier to termite tunneling. To test vertical tunneling, the researchers placed yellow pine sapwood in the bottom of a test tube filled with sand. A two-inch barrier of catnip-treated sand separated the termites in the top layer of untreated sand from the pine. To test horizontal tunneling, the researchers constructed a barrier of treated sand across the middle of a transparent box of sand, again with the tempting pine placed across the barrier from the termites. In both tests, catnip oil reduced or eliminated termite tunneling.

Peterson and Ems-Wilson also tested the catnip oil for its toxicity to termites by treating them directly with a dilution of the oil, fumigating them, and exposing them to catnip-infused soil. The researchers carefully counted the termites in the multiple tests on barriers to make sure the barrier-effect they found was not due to termite mortality.

"At higher concentrations, the oil does kill termites, but not as effectively as the commercial compounds currently used in soil treatments," said Peterson. "Our results show that catnip oil is a very effective deterrent to termite tunneling, with the effective doses tested much lower than those reported for similar natural products."

Unfortunately, catnip oil breaks down quickly in the environment. The chemicals now used to prevent termite infestation must remain effective for more than five years in government testing. "There is the inevitable tradeoff," said Peterson. "Chemicals that last a long time also have greater potential for environmental damage. We hope that the active ingredients in catnip oil can eventually be modified to last longer."

Peterson emphasizes that his experiments are preliminary: catnip oil has not been officially tested for safety and effectiveness in the field. "The other factor is cost," said Peterson. "Catnip oil is much too expensive to use at effective rates when compared to other compounds. Until a way is found to produce the oil competitively and formulate it for long-term use, its only practical use would be for controlling isolated populations of termites."


The mission of the SRS Wood Products Insect Research unit is to improve the protection of wood products from subterranean termite damage, define the role of termites in forest ecosystems, and understand their impact on forest health. For more information: http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/termites/research.htm

Chris Peterson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.srs.fs.fed.us/
http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/termites/research.htm

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Team of researchers in Vienna has decoded the structure of the ribonucleoprotein (RNP) of rabies virus
29.07.2019 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

nachricht Giving a chip about masa
18.07.2019 | American Society of Agronomy

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Physicists create world's smallest engine

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

Im Focus: Vehicle Emissions: New sensor technology to improve air quality in cities

Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.

Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

OHIO professor Hla develops robust molecular propeller for unidirectional rotations

22.08.2019 | Life Sciences

127-year-old physics problem solved

22.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Physicists create world's smallest engine

22.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>