Scientists have created a natural insecticide for tea bushes and other farm crops by mixing garlic powder, chili powder and vinegar,the Taiwan Tea Research Institute announced.
Unveiling the "spicy insecticide" at a news conference, institute researchers said the spray could kill 30 percent to 40 percent of insects living on a tea plant.
"We began searching for a natural insecticide a year ago because chemical insect killers leave residue and an odor on tea leaves," said a researcher surnamed Tzeng.
"We found that most insects are afraid of garlic and chili because they are spicy, so we mixed garlic powder, chili power and vinegar, using one kilogram of each ingredient, and left them overnight to be used the next day," he said.
"The next day, we diluted one kilogram of the mixture 500 kilograms of water and sprayed it on tea bushes. Some 30 to 40 percent of insects, especially young ones, died after eating the tea leaves, while many insects were driven off by the pungent smell," he said.
The institute has introduced the "spicy insecticide" to tea plantations in Nantou and Taoyuan counties. Tea farmers have welcomed it because it is effective, harmless and inexpensive.
One crop of tea requires only two sprays of the "spicy insecticide," compared with two to three sprays of more conventional insecticide.
To spray one hectare of tea bushes takes 2,000 liters of the spicy mix, costing NT$1,300, compared with NT$7,000 to NT$8,000 for the same amount of chemical insecticide.
Tzeng said the "spicy insecticide" could also be used on flowers and other plants and crops.