Some science behind the scenes


USA figures

An insecticide is a chemical used against insects. They include ovicides and larvicides used against the eggs and larvae of insects, as well as those used directly against the insects themselves. Insecticides are used in agriculture, medicine, industry, and general home use. Nearly all insecticides have the potential to significantly alter ecosystems; many are toxic to humans; and others may be found in the food chain.

The classification of insecticides is not standard but may include the following - in all cases the link is to Alan Woods compendium of insecticides and a list of actual products  

  • Antifeedants – insecticides which discourage feeding [the link is to an external database]

  • Chemosterilants - A chemo-sterilant is a chemical compound that causes reproductive sterility in an organism. They may be used to control pest populations by sterilizing males. Generally speaking the term is applied to chemicals used on insects, however, strictly speaking a chemo-sterilant is any chemical compound used to control economically destructive or disease-causing pests by causing temporary or permanent sterility of one or both of the sexes or preventing maturation of the young to a sexually functional adult stage. The mating of sterilized insects with fertile insects produces no offspring
  • Insect attractants - chemicals that attract insects and thus can be used to  trap them
  • Insect repellants - chemicals that can be used to repel insects
  • Mating disrupters (MD)  - are a pest management technique designed to control certain insect infestations. Specifically, mating disruption involves the use of synthesized sex pheromones to disrupt the reproductive cycle of insects
  • Other insecticides - the list here is extremely long and include chemicals such as
    • Systemic insecticides - which are incorporated by treated plants. Insects ingest the insecticide while feeding on the plants.

    • Contact insecticides - which are toxic to insects brought into direct contact.

    • Plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs) - which are insecticidal substances produced by plants after genetic modification. “For instance, a gene that codes for a specific Baccilus thuringiensis biocidal protein is introduced into a crop plant's genetic material. Then, the plant manufactures the protein. Since the biocide is incorporated into the plant, additional applications, at least of the same compound, are not required”. Needless to say if we ingest the plant we get the insecticide automatically even if we wash the plant to destruction
    • Inorganic insecticides - which are manufactured with metals and include arsenates, copper compounds and fluorine compounds, and sulfur.

Natural insecticides - such as nicotine, pyrethrum, and neem extracts, which are made by plants as defenses against insects are generally not included in these lists.




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