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Why Plants Talk To Insects - New Research from Imperial At Chelsea Flower Show

See also...
External Sites:
-Royal Horticultural Show - Chelsea Flower Show web site
(Imperial College is not responsible for the content of these external internet sites)

Attention News Planners
1 May 2000

Why talking to insects is so important to a plants well-being is the theme of an unusual display at this years Chelsea Flower show (22-25 May). The display, jointly staged by Imperial College at Wye and ICI subsidiary, Quest International, will show how plants use scent and colour to attract helpful insects and to repel unwelcome herbivores.

The display will bring together findings from major research studies by entomologists, biochemists and horticulturists from Imperial College and fragrance experts at Quest. Inspired by the graceful designs of Charles Rennie MacKintosh, the stand will feature British butterflies, bumblebees and a variety of scented plants.

 Painted Lady butterfly
'The Painted Lady butterfly - an expected visitor to Imperial College at Wye's stand at this year's Chelsea Flower Show'

The association between plants and insects is over 300 million years old. Imperial College researchers are exploring the unique relationship between plants and their own small group of specialist insects. Scent and colour signals are used to attract different specialists to feed on the plant, pollinate it or protect it from attack by other animals.

Research at Wye is also revealing a vast array of natural repellent plant compounds, which Quest perfumiers are using to formulate new floral fragrances. These fragrances not only appeal to the human nose, but offer effective, broad insect repellence and can be incorporated into household products from shower gels to floor cleaners.

Display co-ordinator is Dr Mike Copland, Senior Lecturer in Entomology at Imperial College (Wye). He believes the display is unique in bringing together so many different facets of research into plant-insect relationships. The combined research is providing an invaluable insight to attracting beneficial insects into our gardens and repelling unwanted ones from our homes. It is also showing us how to control pests on crop plants and identify the plant/insect teams which are essential components in the conservation and management of our natural habitats.

To find out more, visit the Imperial College/Quest Stand (LL28 in the Life-Long Learning Marquee).

Note to Editors:

For further information, please contact :
Wendy Raeside at Imperial College at Wye (telephone: 020 7594 262, email: ) or
Linda Harman at Quest International
(telephone: 01233-644603).

Imperial College at Wye was formed in August 2000 following the merger between Wye College and Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. The Wye campus continues to have a world-class reputation for research and teaching covering agriculture, horticulture, the rural environment and food industry. It has been an exhibitor at Chelsea for more than 50 years and was a Silver Gilt Medal winner in 2000.