Chemical companies have expressed interest in the finding, Bjostad said, in part because of the high costs to register new insecticides and chemicals. In-depth efficacy and public health studies and other research--costing an average of $50 million--must be submitted to federal agencies before a chemical company can manufacture and sell a product. Because CO2 is a natural gas, those costly studies would not be necessary, Bjostad points out.
Bjostad believes the CO2 discovery opens the door for a number of uses, such as luring termites to monitoring traps or to sources of insecticides. Slow releases of CO2 could also be used to confuse termite behavior to the point where a colony cannot sustain itself. The breakthrough even may have applications in new home construction.
Bjostad's lab plans to conduct experiments with other termite species common to the United States to determine what range of COs is effective on all species. Because the basic biology of other termite species is very similar, the Colorado State researchers expect little difference in their reactions. The initial termite studies were funded by the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station.
This latest breakthrough was prompted by other research under way in
Bjostad's lab. Last year, the Colorado State team showed that western corn
rootworm--a pest that causes $1 billion in crop damage each year--solely uses
CO2 to find young corn roots. Larvae must locate roots within three days after
hatching or die of starvation. Bjostad developed several pellets containing
natural ingredients that slowly release the g
Contact: Louis Bjostad
Colorado State University