Science: New Insecticide?

In the holds of freighters from South American ports that put into Genoa about 13 years ago were some unlisted travelers —small tropical ants named Iridomyrmex humilis. Spreading rapidly from their beachhead, the tiny invaders took on the heftiest ants of Italy, annihilated them by the colony. Putting them under the microscope, University of Pavia's Zoologist Mario Pavan got to their secret: a sac of grey, waxy poison in the anal gland.

Pavan called his discovery Iridomyrmecin. By 1948 he had reduced it to its pure crystalline form, reported that Iridomyrmecin was deadly to many insects but harmless to man. It showed...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!