An insect-based soil enhancer which also protects crops from aphids has been pioneered by Maynooth University and Hexafly BioTech, an Irish company that uses insects and insect-based products for inclusion in animal feeds and as plant nutrients.

Hexafrass is derived from the waste product of black soldier flies and significantly reduces aphid infestation numbers on cereal plants without the need for chemical insecticides – which many aphids have developed resistance to.

Proteomic analysis, a form of genetic analysis of proteins, was used to reveal that aphids feeding on plants cultured in Hexafrass were rendered infertile due to changes in their internal biology.

“This discovery creates the possibility of a highly effective and environmentally sustainable method of controlling aphid populations,” Professor Kevin Kavanagh, Department of Biology at Maynooth University, said.