A farmer sprays pesticide in a rice paddy field near Subang, Indonesia's West Java province, May 27, 2014. Asia's governments are scrambling to head off the potential impact of a weather phenomenon that in the past has driven food prices to levels that sparked social unrest. They are aiming to reduce the impact of the so-called El Nino, a weather pattern that can bring drought to Australia, Southeast Asia and India. REUTERS/Beawiharta (INDONESIA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT AGRICULTURE TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
What happens when flies eat Truvia? Apparently, they die, according to a study conducted by sixth graders.
Eleven-year-old Simon Kaschock-Marenda told Scientific American that it all started out as a sixth-grade science project and his curiosity on how fruit flies reacted to different kinds of sweeteners.
Since his parents had stopped taking sugar, the student had been exposed to various tabletop sweeteners. His dad, who is a biologist, assisted him in offering flies food with sweeteners: Truvia, Sweet-n-low, Splenda and Equal.
At the end of the experiment six days later, flies that ate Truvia-spiked food died. The study also showed that the flies preferred Truvia to real sugar.
Kaschock-Marenda and his father Daniel Marenda later published the findings of the study with other researchers from Drexel University.
The research article, Erythritol, a Non-Nutritive Sugar Alcohol Sweetener and the Main Component of Truvia, Is a Palatable Ingested Insecticide, was recently published in the online journal PLoS ONE.
The researchers are said to next check the effect of Truvia on other insects like cockroaches or ants.
Unlike the other sweeteners, Truvia is considered a natural sweetener because it comes from the plant stevia rebaudiana. Its extract is deemed sweeter than sugar but with negligible effect on blood glucose.
The study emphasised that erythritol is safe to humans "even when consumed at high levels."
It also concluded the use of erythritol as a potential and novel human-safe insecticide.
"Our data set the stage for investigating this compound as a novel, effective, and human safe approach for insect pest control. We suggest targeted bait presentations to fruit crop and urban insect pests are particularly promising," the researchers concluded.
However, they have yet to confirm why exactly Truvia and its main ingredient erythritol resulted in the deaths of the fruit flies.
"Our studies did not address the physiological or molecular mechanisms of erythritol toxicity. In some insects, ingested erthritol can inhibit uptake of nutritive sugars through the gut wall. Ingestion of erythritol may alter nutrient and/or water absorption and/or efflux," the researchers said.
As pointed out by the study, there is a global need and demand for environmentally safe and effective insecticides. Fortunately, there are now innovations in the industry that has resulted in the creation of all-natural insecticides that are just as effective as that of popular brands but are completely safe when used near humans and pets.
One of those products is Nature-Cide, which is owned by the green products company Pacific Shore Holdings, Inc. (PSHR) and developed through the Nature-Cide Pest Management that services upscale homes in southern California.
All of Nature-Cide's sprays are made from essential oils that have been proven to kill and repel insects and other pests. While essential oils are completely safe for human use - and are in fact used in home spa products - they are derived from plants that have insecticidal properties.
Some of the essential oils used in Nature-Cide's sprays are Cedar oil, Citronella oil, Garlic oil, Mint oil, Peppermint oil, Cinnamon oil, Geranium oil, Lemongrass oil and Rosemary oil.
Their products are mostly sold online through their Web site and Amazon.