Coca-Cola As An Insecticide

Can Coca-Cola work as an insecticide? Indian farmers seem to think so. The Guardian reports that many of them have taken to spraying their cotton and chilli fields with the soft drink. The article quotes an agricultural analyst who suggests that this might actually work because the sugar in the drink would "attract red ants to feed on insect larvae". But a Coca-Cola spokesman dismisses the entire story as an urban legend: "We are aware of one isolated case where a farmer may have used a soft drink as part of his crop management routine. Soft drinks do not act in a similar way to pesticides when applied to the ground or crops. There is no scientific basis for this and the use of soft drinks for this purpose would be totally ineffective". I'm not enough of a plant expert to judge on whether Coke would work as an insecticide, though it does seem to me like the sugar could actually attract flies (but what do I know?). Plus, I'm not one to criticize the Indian farmers since I regularly throw banana peels around the flowers in my yard in the (perhaps illogical) belief that the peels will somehow keep aphids away.

Food Science Urban Legends

Posted on Wed Nov 03, 2004


India sure seems to have a lot of hoaxes.
Posted by john  on  Wed Nov 03, 2004  at  03:17 PM
I don't know if Coca-Cola kills insects or attracts predators, but I have witnessed it removing paint from a car. It also can dissolve tooth enamel, given enough time.
In both cases, it's probably the phosphoric acid in Coke, not the sugar (or the coca leaf extract!) that's doing the job.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Wed Nov 03, 2004  at  06:38 PM
I think the company spokeperson would have done better to dismiss this story as a rural legend than as an urban legend.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Wed Nov 03, 2004  at  06:41 PM
I saw the mythbusters episode once where they tested out all of the "Coke Legends". Their process seemed sort of ineffective, because instead of looking into seeing if (for instance) cops actually carried coke around to wash blood off of the road, they got blood (from a butcher shop) & put it on the road, then tried to wash it away. Any liquid poured would have rinsed the blood. They didn't call a cleaning service to find out if you could use coke effectively for toilets(as in cleaning, de-germing), they dumped it in the toilet & used a scrub brush to scrub the sides of the toilet. Since the brush scrubbed dirt away they said, "Sure put coke in your toilet!" It was weird.
Posted by Maegan  on  Thu Nov 04, 2004  at  09:35 AM
You bury the banana skins around your roses. At least my wife does. Some of the traces elements in the skins (potassium) suit the roses.
Posted by Andy  on  Thu Nov 04, 2004  at  03:53 PM
This is likely to be another factor.
Posted by Idiot  on  Thu Nov 04, 2004  at  11:57 PM
Maybe it came from the fact that in Hawaii we are using coffee (caffeine) to battle frogs.
Posted by WAYNE LEVY  on  Fri Nov 05, 2004  at  05:29 PM
There isn't much caffeine in Coca-Cola, though. Sugar would attract ants, all right ... ant that live on sugary plants, not ants that eat insects. Common mistake by people who don't know much about the subject: "All ants are basically the same."
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  02:28 PM
I once saw a gardening program on PBS in which the host used a mixture of several plant foods, water, and Coca-Cola. I don't remember it well, but I think it was something about carbon dioxide and/or nitrogen fixation. I suspect that this story may be a mangled version of this practice, the use of Coke not as an insecticide, but as plant food.
Posted by Dano  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  03:59 PM
I know a friend (gardener) told me that putting a carbonated beverage (he recommended Sprite) into the pot that holds your christmas tree & it will stay fresh longer. Something to do with the bubbles...carbon dioxide or something.

So, Dano, maybe you're right about the mangling of the practice. =o)
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun Nov 14, 2004  at  10:41 AM
I've seen ants stuck by dried soft drink and died...
Posted by JJ  on  Fri Jan 28, 2005  at  02:46 PM
Love is two people sipping Coca Cola from the same straw on a warm sunny day.
Posted by Lamar Cole  on  Fri Oct 07, 2005  at  01:16 PM
To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and let the "real thing" sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous China.
Posted by mark elliott  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  02:42 PM
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