University at Albany, State University of New York
Contact UAlbany Directories Calendars & Schedules Visitors Site Index Search
Admissions Academics Research IT Services Libraries Athletics




Study Reveals Garlic Oil an Environmentally Safe Bird Repellent
Research indicates herb is an effective deterrent at only one percent concentration

Contact: Michael Parker (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 30, 2004) --Garlic oil shows significant activity as a nontoxic bird repellent for use against crop damaging birds, according to a joint study by the University at Albany and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Garlic-based products, which are environmentally benign as pesticides, should be useful as bird repellents for airport, agricultural, and urban applications.

"The products could be applied to crops to reduce bird damage, which can be quite costly," said Eric Block, Distinguished Chemistry Professor at the University at Albany and co-author of the study. "The products could also be used to keep birds away from airport runways, where they pose an aviation hazard." Many current pesticides can be hazardous due to their toxicity and environmental persistence. Garlic-based repellents represent economically viable substitutes, and could be applied to targeted areas as easily as fertilizer.

The research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, involved Block and UAlbany graduate student Zhixing Shan, along with USDA scientist Dr. Arla Hile of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. The study was supported by grants from the Berryman Institute and the National Science Foundation.

The research demonstrates that European starlings, a species which causes considerable damage annually to U.S. crops, significantly reduce their food consumption with as little as one percent of garlic oil containing granules mixed with their food. The starlings further decreased their consumption in foods treated with 10 percent and 25 percent solutions, showing a correlation between the level of garlic and the adverse reaction of the birds. Granules prepared from food-grade garlic oil as well as commercially produced granules containing a refined garlic product (from Germain's Technology Group, Custom Coating and Enhancements Inc., Gilroy CA or ECOspray Ltd, UK are equally effective.

Copies of the report are available at:

The Monell Chemical Senses Center is a nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, PA. Scientists at the Monell Center conduct research devoted to understanding the senses of taste, smell, and chemical irritation: how they function and how they affect our lives from before birth to old age. The Center's approach is multidisciplinary. Scientists from a variety of backgrounds collaborate to address topic areas in sensation and perception, neuroscience and molecular biology, environmental and occupational health, nutrition and appetite, health and well-being, and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit the Center's web site at or email inquiries to [email protected].

The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in nine degree-granting schools and colleges. The University has launched a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit