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A jug that keeps moths in check

Start-up touts phermone-chasing system

Michael Banfield and his miracle jug
Michael Kanellos/CNET Networks

Michael Banfield is proud of his jug filled with insect pheromones. He's managing partner at SpringStar, which sells biopesticides that work like this: Hormones from female gypsy moths are sprayed into the air, sending the males into a frenzy as they think that females are everywhere. They fail to find a real one and die before they can breed.

It's one of the technologies being touted at the Cleantech Forum this week in San Francisco, a conference where so-called green start-ups show off their wares to venture capitalists. SpringStar is working with researchers at the University of Washington on the biopesticides. The phermone method may sound cruel for the male gypsy moths, but Banfield says it beats spraying chemicals.