MURDOCH University will spearhead research that could spell the end for environmentally hazardous bug sprays.
The ground-breaking project hopes to identify the scents that attract insects, using that information to create pest traps that protect crops and people without the use of chemical pesticides or repellents.
Insect biologist and entomology lecturer Wei Xu has been awarded just over $370,000 in funding from the Australian Research Council.
“Protecting crops against damage from insect pests and reducing the transmitted diseases and infections they can spread is an ongoing challenge,” he said.
“Insects rely on their senses to detect food. This has considerable potential for the development of odour-based behaviour control methods.
“This project will develop new insights into underlying insect smell systems. We hope to identify potential attractant compounds and develop environmentally-safe insect pest controls.”
Dr Xu’s research will help to protect Australia’s estimated $20 billion crop industry and offers health benefits too by helping to reduce infection and diseases that are transmitted through insect bites.
The four-year project is already underway and is based at Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences.
Dr Xu will work in collaboration with researchers from Australia and the US, including CSIRO.