6th grader creates human-safe pesticide with sugar

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Truvia… the ultimate fruit fly killer?

If you ever leave fruit out for too long in the kitchen, you’ll notice that little black bugs starting buzzing around it. These fruit flies are quite the bothersome little pests, and it can be a hassle putting together the ingredients necessary to build a trap for them. Now, scientists have made a major breakthrough in creating a convenient and human-safe pesticide (pest killer), thanks to a 6th grader’s science experiment!

Simon D. Kaschock Marenda, who’s currently a 9th grader, decided to feed artificial sweeteners (fake sugar) to fruit flies 3 years ago. He was testing to see whether a sugar replacement called Truvia was healthy, but after just six days of eating the substance, the fruit flies were dead! His father, a biology professor, realized Simon was onto something, so he carried out a professional research project with other scientists that recently concluded.

It turns out that sugar replacement products like Truvia, Equal, Sweet ‘N Low, and PureVia shortened the average fruit fly lifespan by 33-45 days. After an average of 5.8 days, these bugs were dropping like… well… flies! The magical ingredient in the sweeteners is a chemical called erythritol, and now researchers hope to develop pesticides with it.

Featured image courtesy of Baudier & O’Donnell, Drexel University. Image of Truvia courtesy of Mike Mozart on Flickr.