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Researcher Discovers How To Kill Cockroaches Using The Insects' Own Metabolism

Virginia Tech

Researcher Discovers How to Kill Cockroaches Using the Insects' Own Metabolism
Release: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 9, 1996
Release prepared by Susan Trulove,
540/231-5646 or

Researcher Discovers How to Kill Cockroaches
Using the Insects' Own Metabolism

Heather N. Wren, recently retired Virginia Tech* entomologist, has discovered and developed a new method for control of cockroaches and, eventually, other insect pests. Dr. Wren presented her research at the International Conference on Insect Pests in the Urban Environment, 1996, in Edinburgh, Scotland at 2:30 p.m. (EST) July 9.

A bait made of natural substances, non-toxic to humans, makes it impossible for cockroaches to restore their reserves of uric acid after mating, egg-case development, or molting. Cockroaches require uric acid to survive.

The active ingredient in the bait, termed a nutritional metabolism disrupter (NMD), is a composition of oxypurinol and xanthine. The composition inhibits the enzyme xathine oxidase while simultaneously increasing its substrate. This causes a block in the purine metabolic pathway which, in cockroaches, is the synthetic pathway for uric acid. Uric acid is normally stored in the cockroach fat body cells and is used as a resource during periods of high nitrogen demand. Whole-body uric acid levels in dead treated insects, measured by spectrophotometric assay, were extremely low, confirming the mechanism of action. Laboratory colonies treated with NMD declined to total extinction within four to six weeks. Six days of feeding were sufficient to ensure population control and the insects made no distinction between treated and untreated diets. Both insecticide-resistant and susceptible cockroach strains were equally affected by the new compound. Nymphs also died when fed feces from treated colonies, which implies good residual effects.

The bait's inert ingredients were designed to enhance the effects of the active ingredient and to attract the pests for multiple feedings. Early field-trial results confirm that the bait is effective against large populations of German cockroaches, and that it compares well with well-known toxic baits.

The product received a patent June 19 (5,514,681) and is being developed by Dominion BioSciences, Inc. Blacksburg, Va.

(*Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Contact for more information: Dr. Wren, 910-270-4406
Steve Banegas, CEO, Dominion BioSciences, 540-231-5319

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