Monday, January 16, 2012

Gels and Cockroaches

When last we met, we were talking about edible gels (or gel like materials) - cupcake frosting, and also cream cheese, peanut butter and other delicious foodstuffs. But not all gels are edible. A great example of the inedible sort, but one that also appears to be highly desired, is Du Pont Advion Cockroach Gel bait. I say highly desired as 13 tubes of it were reported as stolen over the weekend from the Manchester City Hall. Apparently nothing else was stolen, so either the thieves have the mother-of-all cockroach infestations in their homes, or they have some other nefarious activities in mind, although I can't imagine what.

If I had a cockroach problem, I'd gel up some linoleic acid. It's a very effective repellent - it's actually a necromone ("death hormone") that crushed cockroaches give off as a warning to others. So in other words, this cartoon drawing from the cockroach world is pretty unrealistic:
The coroner would be heading far away from the broken body.

The active ingredient of a linoleic gel is not only non-toxic, but also an essential oil for humans. However, despite all these advantages, you still wouldn't be able to take more than 3 ounces of this gel on a US plane.(Ever seen a cockroach on a plane? I can't imagine that they aren't there.)

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A small company in 80s developed a formulation of purified linoleic acid with a radical scavenger additive (to surpress autooxidation of double bonds), as a cockroach repellent and tried to sell it in US. According to the main inventor Al Schwartz (of the "Uncle Al" Usenet infamy), it worked amazingly well, among other results causing the entire cockroach population of one Los Angeles latino butcher shop to relocate in hurry to a nearby video rental store. The product development ended when federal authorities noticed that linoleic acid was not included in the list of chemicals generally recognized as safe and so as to protect US consumers they demanded the company to perform exceedingly expensive chronic toxicology animal tests to demonstrate harmlessness of linoleic acid...

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The death pheromone has been a very effective tool to ward off cockroaches. It's odor reaches the cockroaches receptors, but not our nasal senses.

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