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New Study Shows Natural Compound Could Replace Insecticides

Jun 27, 2015

Most conventional and organic farmers rely on insecticides to kill pests. But, new research shows that a compound in fruit may be a good natural alternative to repel bugs. Lesley McClurg in Sacramento has the story.

Anandasankar Ray is an entomology professor at UC Riverside.

He recently studied how butyl anthranilate keeps fruit flies away from blueberries.

The natural compound smells like grapes. It's found in low concentrations in several types of fruit. It’s commonly used as a flavor and fragrance additive.

Ray: "It is approved by the FDA for addition to food. So, you can imagine this repellant is edible itself."

He found that just a ten percent solution kept spotted wing flies from landing on, or laying eggs on the berries.

Ray is also testing other naturally-occurring chemicals that people could use as bug spray. He hopes to find non-toxic compounds to keep blood-sucking insects like mosquitos and bed bugs at bay.