This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Insecticidal Compound

A newly introduced class of insecticidal compounds developed by the United States Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and co-operators offers safe and effective alternatives to conventional chemical insecticides. The active ingredients are based on sugar esters that are natural chemicals secreted by wild tobacco plants and Vincetoxicum vines 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.

ARS entomologist Gary J. Puterka, working with US industry co-operators, 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. Gary Puterka identified several of the new chemical forms that kill test insects instantly, and has been named a co-inventor on two patents that define the chemical structures of the compounds, as well as an environmentally sound processes 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 US. Environment Protection Agency. The analogs kill by breaking down the insect pests' outer waxy coating. The insects then 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 is 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 the ARS.

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Happy Gardening



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