Entomologist Dr. Coby Schal at North Carolina State University studies the chemicals involved in insect communication in an effort to more effectively manage pests. His big interest is in chemical communication using pheromones and how they impact mating and other behaviors. His research has aided the control of cockroaches, bed bugs, mosquitoes and other nuisance bugs in major cities.
A very nice biography of his work was recently published in The Scientist. Some major discoveries that Dr. Schal made as a graduate student included observing that male cockroaches sit higher up in foliage in order to detect female cockroach pheromones. He also noted that female cockroaches eat the nitrogen-rich excrement from their mating partners…ew. In the process of doing his graduate research in Costa Rica, he actually discovered four new species of cockroaches.
One of the pheromones that he discovered, Blattellaquinone, is more effective than food baits in cockroach traps. For mosquitos, he has exploited chemical attractants to lure egg-laying females into pots that contain insecticide.
To read more about Dr. Schal’s work with insects and how his work began, see the article in The Scientist.
Image from Dr. Schal’s webpage at NC State University.