Thursday, February 17, 2005

Progress on the Roach Front

The Los Angeles Times reports that scientists has succeeded in synthecizing a synthetic pheremone of the German cockroach, the most common species of cockroach. Link.
n the long and seemingly futile quest to build a better roach trap, researchers have identified the come-hither chemical of the female German cockroach and produced a synthetic version that makes males come running in fewer than nine seconds.

The search for the sex pheromone has been a top priority for cockroach scientists, but it has been an arduous process because the compound is emitted in very small quantities and is so fragile that it easily degrades during laboratory analysis.

The new synthetic version appears to work at least as well as the original, giving scientists hope that they might be able to shift the balance of power in the age-old contest between humans and cockroaches -- creatures widely believed capable of surviving nuclear war.

Cockroaches have always ranked up there with death and taxes. Of course, given that a single female can produce two million offspring, something that helps to kill off the males may not accomplish very much. Last month, Technology Review did a spread on a British scientist who wants to do away with death. Now, if we only could do something about taxes.


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