Soda as a Natural Bait for Pests

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Updated on Jul 09, 2010

The problem is that people who enjoy outdoor picnics are often plagued by insect pests, including flying insects, as well as ants and other crawling creatures. The purpose of this project is to do a study on popular brands of soft drinks regarding their attractiveness to picnic pests.

Along with the great outdoors comes a great abundance of picnic pests, that is, insects and bugs, that can take some of the enjoyment out of a day by the pool or a backyard picnic.

We noticed that when we throw empty soda (soft drink) cans in our recycle trash can (which does not have a lid), bee-like flying insects appear, flying around the cans. They are not present when other types of jars and cans are discarded. Is something in soda that is attractive to these insects? Could soda also be attractive to other types of pests? If so, soda could be poured out in pie pans and placed at various points around the perimeter of a backyard, hopefully, to act as bait and keep pests away from people in the yard.

Hypothesize that one or more brands of soda will be attractive to flying-insect pests. You may also hypothesize that whatever brand of soda is attractive to one type of insect will also be attractive to other types of insects.

  • Warm day
  • Seven different types of soda
  • Seven pie pans
  • Use of a backyard
  • Picnic table

On a warm day, when mosquitoes or other flying insects are present in a backyard, set seven pie pans on a picnic table. Disposable aluminum pie pans can be used, but if they have holes in the bottom, line them with tinfoil to make them watertight.

Purchase a selection of seven different types of soda. Include a mixture of dark colored, clear, diet, and different flavors (cola, root beer, orange). Pour one type of soda into each pie pan.

Monitor the pans for several hours. Observe any insects that appear to be "hanging around" the pans. Make notes on which pans are visited the most. See if any insects are floating in the soda.

If few insects visit your pans, repeat the experiment in the early evening before the Sun sets. The cooler temperature of evening may bring more insects out of hiding.

Did any of the soda pans attract visitors? Did one type attract more than another? If so, what do you think caused the attraction (color, flavor, type of sugar—diet/regular—and so forth)?

Pick up a field guide on local insects at a book shop or the library, and try to identify any insects you see.

Write down the results of your experiment. Document all observations and data collected.

Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.

Something More
  1. If the soda-filled pie pans are placed on the ground, will they also act as bait to deter crawling pests (ants, crickets, and so forth) from a picnic blanket you place on the ground?
  2. Repeat the project in the late evening, when nocturnal pests are active. Are more pests found around the soda pans at night than during the day? Are they different types of insects?