In the wild, what we think of as spices are actually a key component to a plant’s defense mechanism. Now, Dr. Murray Isman of the University of British Columbia recently published a study on these organic pesticides that has produced fruitful results. The research has shown that common household spices, such as thyme, peppermint, rosemary and clove, can be used by humans for pest control.
Dr. Isman has been studying plant’s essential oils for over a decade and has found that they can be used for a broad range of insecticidal purposes. For example, he began experimenting with small amounts of various common spices mixed together and diluted in water, and applied as an insecticide on agricultural crops.
The results have been astounding, not only to these “killer spices” get the job done, they are far less harmful than their chemical counterparts. These spice-based treatments are not harmful to field workers harvesting crops and have low environmental impact. Thus, the regulatory red-tape of the organic insecticide will be substantially reduced. Additionally, it has been shown that unlike typical pesticides insects are less likely to become immediately resistant to these natural treatments.
Farmers have already put spice-based crop treatments to the test on strawberries, spinach, and tomatoes. The treatments have rapidly fought off aphids and mites with notable success.
Scientists are now looking for ways to implement these killer spices in the home. The hope is that they may someday be used as a non-toxic, and aroma therapeutic, bug-repellant in people’s houses.
Discussion question: What would you need to know about these ‘killer spices’ before you would choose to use them in your garden?
News Article link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090816170910.htm
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