Biosys hopes to find a distribution partner for anenvironmentally safe cockroach trap it has developed usingbeneficial nematodes.

The trap received U.S. patent No. 5,172,514 on Dec. 22, 1992,and is now undergoing shelf-life tests.

"We want to make sure it works and is competitive," Paul Dick,director of sales and marketing at the Palo Alto, Calif., company(NASDAQ:BIOS), told BioWorld.

The microscopic, worm-like organisms contained in the trap areheld in a sort of suspended animation, "kind of like a bearhibernating," Dick said, and become more active as time goeson. The inside of the trap keeps the nematodes hydrated andhealthy while providing an environment for them to come intocontact with the cockroaches.

Cockroaches enter the palm-size trap in search of moisture, andthe nematodes enter the pests, releasing a bacteria that killsthe cockroaches but is harmless to humans, pets and otheranimals.

This is the first time Biosys has targeted product developmentfor the household pest market and above-ground application ofnematodes for insect control. Nematodes are subterraneanorganisms that require moisture for survival and are not foundabove soil in nature.

Dick said the company sees its market opportunity inconsumers who do not want to use chemicals for pest control.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has exempted thenematode and its bacteria from all registration requirements.

The main competitor, "Combat," uses an insect-growth regulatorwhich is quite safe, Dick said, but is a chemical. Biosys has hadthe trap tested in the U.S. and abroad to demonstrate itsefficacy for several weeks and expects to conduct large-scaletesting to develop its commercial feasibility.

Since the patent was announced, there have been widespreadinquiries about the trap, Dick said, even from residents of theBiosphere experimental, self-contained environment inArizona, which apparently has cockroach problems.

The traps use water to attract cockroaches, which they "justlove," Dick said. Biosys recently acquired AgriSense, adeveloper and marketer of pheromone-based insect traps andlures, whose chemical attractants might later be applied tonematode-based applications.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.