Submitted to: Entomological News
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/21/2008
Publication Date: 9/30/2008
Citation: Thomas, D.B. 2008. Nontoxic antifreeze for insect traps. Entomological News. 119:361-365.
Interpretive Summary: Many types of insect traps, such as pan traps, jar traps or pitfall traps, use a liquid in which the specimens are captured and immersed. Ideally, the capture liquid should have good preservational attributes such as alcohol. Some recent publications suggest the use of automotive antifreeze which contains 95% glycol. However, automotive antifreeze is toxic. This article describes research that non-toxic antifreeze, the type used to winterize the drinking water systems in recreational vehicles, and sold as RV antifreeze, is safe, effective and environmentally friendly. It also costs less. Entomologists are urged to consider using this non-toxic antifreeze in their trapping programs.
Technical Abstract: Propylene glycol in water is a safe and effective alternative to ethylene glycol as a capture liquid in insect traps (pitfalls, flight intercepts, pan traps). Propylene glycol formulations are readily available because it is the primary (95%) ingredient in certain automotive antifreeze formulations. However, an even safer and less expensive alternative is the USP food grade RV antifreeze used for winterizing drinking water systems. The automotive formulations contain additives (about 5%) that contribute to the cost and involve safety, environmental, and waste disposal issues. Using bacterial inhibition as an indicator, the preservational attributes of the automotive and RV antifreeze were found to be comparable in laboratory tests. Entomologists are urged to use non-toxic antifreeze in their trapping programs.