story to find out more.
In time, synthetic
insecticides from sugar esters will likely be commercialized and may be
valuable for insecticidal use on flowers and ornamentals in the greenhouse,
field, or nursery. Click the image for more information about
A Sugar That's Not So Sweet for Insect
Pests By Rosalie Marion Bliss
June 2, 2005
A newly introduced class of insecticidal compounds developed by the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and
cooperators offers safe and effective alternatives to conventional chemical
The active ingredients are based on sugar esters that are natural
chemicals secreted by wild tobacco plants to protect themselves against insect
predators. When certain insects rub up against and chew on the plants' leaf
hairs, the insects become contaminated with the compound and die.
Puterka, working with industry cooperators, developed synthetic analogs, or
look-alikes, of the natural sugar esters. He and colleagues then screened
various synthetic sugar esters to find the most potent among them. While
working at the ARS
Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va., Puterka identified several
of the new chemical forms that kill test insects instantly.
Puterka has been named a co-inventor on two patents that define the
chemical structures of the compounds, as well as an environmentally sound
process for their manufacture. One of the compounds, sorbitol octanoate, has
proved less costly to produce than earlier forms patented, and is now
undergoing the process of registration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The analogs kill by breaking down the insect pests' outer waxy
coating. Then the insects lose water and die from dehydration. The new class of
compounds is unique among insecticides because their active ingredients do not
leave a detrimental residue on surfaces to which they are applied. What's left
over after application becomes inactive upon drying and rapidly degrades.
The latest synthetic sugar esters, if licensed, could be a boon to the
home and garden market, according to Puterka. Licensing information with the
ARS Office of
Technology Transfer can be found on the World Wide Web at:
about the research in the June 2005 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.