SOCORRO, N.M., August 18, 1999 -- Dr. Daniel H. López, president of New Mexico Tech, today announced that termites are effectively repelled by materials created with the process discovered and patented by scientists at New Mexico Tech, which molecularly bonds the natural "heat" (capsaicin) of chile peppers into paints, stains, plastics, and other rubberized materials.
The bioassay termite studies were conducted under the direction of Dr. Roger Gold, professor of entomology at the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology at Texas A&M University.
Earlier research established that rodents and other terrestrial animals, zebra mussels and other freshwater and saltwater nuisance species, various insect species, and wood-boring birds are all repelled by materials created through New Mexico Tech's patented process.
Dr. López stated, "Termites are among the most destructive insects on Earth and are the principal cause for untold damage worldwide. We are very pleased that the scientists at Texas A&M have determined that this destructive species is repelled by the all-natural, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly repellents created by our discovery."
Grady J. Glenn, an entomologist and termite researcher at Texas A&M, said, "These preliminary tests were quite positive. With any choice, the insects fled the area containing the experimental material and stayed away. An ecologically sensitive repellent of this type could be very beneficial."
The bioassay study procedure introduced termites into environments containing wood treated with various combinations of control materials, experimental materials, soil, and water.
When provided with a choice of wood treated with experimental material or one of the alternate materials, the insects moved from the experimental material each time.
When given no choice but the materials into which the essential oils and capsaicin of Habañero chile peppers had been bonded, the result was total avoidance.
Pure corn oil and raw linseed oil were used as control and host experimental materials for the bioassay evaluations.
The Center for Urban and Structural Entomology is a Division of Entomology at Texas A&M University, and has gained international recognition for its research on termites, fire ants, and other destructive insects.
Preliminary studies to investigate whether fire ants are also repelled by materials created by the New Mexico Tech patent are currently underway.
The patented process discovered by New Mexico Tech is exclusively marketed by MEDD4, a company based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which specializes in technology transfers, financing, implementation, and production of new products and innovations developed by New Mexico universities and laboratories.