CUP Undergraduate Research


Insecticides and Invertebrate Neurophysiology: Testing the Efficacy of Caffeine as an Insecticide

Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2018

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Arts & Sciences


Math & Science

Degree Name

Biology, BA

First Advisor

Wayne Tschetter, Ph.D.


All organisms have adapted to escape or fight predators to ensure their own survival. Chrysanthemum flowers have insecticidal properties through a natural compound called pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is neurotoxic to insects but is not photostable. With the growth of human population and environmental changes, pyrethrin has been artificially modified into compounds known as pyrethroids. Synthetic pyrethroids are neurotoxic, photostable, and insoluble in water. The widespread use of pyrethroids in agricultural pesticides, has led to an increased concern for the affected non-target species. This study looked at the effect of pyrethroids on insect neurophysiology and tested the efficacy of a proposed natural insecticide, caffeine. Our results suggest that caffeine is an effective insecticide toward the common house cricket. Furthermore, data showed increased neuronal activity prior to decline and death as a result of a depolarized membrane of neurons. This thesis also discusses the complications and future directions of finding an organic, yet effective insecticide.

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