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Looking to fungi, spiders and other natural insect killers for less toxic alternatives to synthetic pesticides

New technologies based on natural chemicals are yielding more environmentally friendly ways to control pests that eat our food and harm our health.

Photo © Custom Life Science Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Venom from the Australian Blue Mountains funnel spider contain substances that only kill certain insects, giving it promise as a source of an environmentally friendly pesticide. Photo courtesy of Graham M. Nicholson, University of Technology, Sydney

The idea was that, unlike manmade chemicals, the venom peptides wouldn’t leave residues that could persist in the environment for years, and because they targeted specific types of insects, they wouldn’t harm fish, reptiles, birds or mammals.

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Seeds from the Asian neem tree yield an oil that can help protect crops from insect pests. Source: Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
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