Conservationists have been trying to save the grasslands of the U.S. But this is not as easy as it seems, they were facing many problems until they tried a technique they thought would work and that is exactly what happened. The problem of the hungry mice gobbling up the seeds that were supposed to bring back the native flora was real. So the biologists came up with the idea of coating capsaicin over the seeds. Capsaicin is the active ingredient that gives chilli peppers its fiery taste. Sprinkling the chilli powder onto the seeds reduced the intake of seed by the deer mice up to 86%, reports the researchers in the Restoration Ecology.
Still this discovery required trials and errors to confirm whether this method could be taken into account in the long run or not. The fieriest challenge the researchers were going through this restoration mission was that they required a chilli powder that did prevent the deer mice to feed on the seeds of the native flora but also did not affect the germination of the seed, nor did effect the yield and quality of the product. In addition, the sprinkled chilli powder should come off by itself after some months after being outdoors. It took a total of 4 years of constant laboratory and field experiments in Montana’s Missoula Valley to find the perfect recipe that could fit the requirements. Bhut Jolokia or the ghost pepper, found in India, proved to be the best peppers for this purpose. Bhut Jolokia also known as ghost pepper, ghost chilli, U-morok, red naga, naga jolokia, and ghost jolokia are one of the world’s hottest peppers. It is an interspecific hybrid chilli pepper which is cultivated in the northern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Asam, Nagaland and Manipur. It is also known as the hybrid of Capsicum Chinese and Capsicum frutescent, it is also very closely related to the Naga Morich of Bangladesh.
In 2017, the Ghost peppers were certified in the Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest pepper. Another fact about the ghost pepper is that it is 400 times hotter than the Tobasco sauce, is it not insane? The Scoville heat units (SHUs) of the ghost chilli is said to be more than one million. Unfortunately the ghost chilli could not maintain its tittle of being the hottest pepper of the world when in 2011, infinity chilli took its place, followed by the Naga Viper and then the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012 and Carolina Reaper in 2013 on 7th August.
This shows how nontoxic, and defense compounds of a natural plant, for example the capsaicin can avoid addition efforts during a Restoration project. Another benefit it provided is that no chemically formed mouse killer was used. This is both harmful for the grassland as well as the human population as artificially manufactured mouse repellents will definitely cause land and air pollution.