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Sex trap to kill male roaches

A pheromone, emitted by female German cockroaches that drives their male counterparts wild, can double as a 'death trap' for them. Scientists at the Cornell University have spotted the source of the pheromone in female roaches and hope to use it in a killer pesticide, reports Science.

The German cockroach ' the biggest pest worldwide ' is a cool customer when it comes to avoiding death traps. For years, experts have been trying in vain to identify the proper formula to kill it. Cornell University researchers are now planning to develop synthetic sex pheromones as an ingenious way of luring sex-hungry male cockroaches to their deaths.

According to Dr Wendell Roelofs, the lead researcher, the odorous sex-trap contains microorganisms or lethal pathogens. Some enthusiastic males would it pick up, pass on the message carrying this smelly substance to the other members of the colony and this will kill the males eventually.

Although the idea of using pheromones is not a new ploy to catch pests, finding the exact pheromone to arrest the male cockroaches has been a tough job. No one was able to find the place the pheromones were being emitted from. Roelofs and his team found the relevant gland right at the tip of the female cockroach's abdomen. Their aim is to identify the particular chemical in the pheromone which is found irresistable by the male cockroaches.

The researchers carried out a series of tests in the disembodied antenna of the male cockroaches ' the pheromone-sensing responder that can single out the active compound of the pheromone. Roelofs explains, 'We would strap the antenna between two electrodes, and the electrodes would record signals in the antenna as soon as it was stimulated by the active compound.' His team will manufacture it artificially after it is identified.

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