There are a lot of natural pesticides that are derived, most commonly, from plants. This way you can be sure that pesticide that you are using has come from natural sources and are safe to use in the home.
The Power Daisy
Pyrethrum is a botanical insecticide produced primarily in the flowers of Tanacetum cinerariaefolium, a species of the chrysanthemum plant family.
Growing pyrethrum is both a skill and a way of life for many growers. Pyrethrum plants can produce as many as 400 flowers per plant and grow best in locations with well-drained, volcanic soils and temperate climates such as in China, East Africa and Australia/New Zeland. The pyrethrum plant can be highly sensitive to soil and weather conditions, so commercial production of pyrethrum presents numerous challenges to the grower.
Pyrethrum has been grown for well over a thousand years. The commercial production of Pyrethrum began in China to supply the demand for pyrethrum along the silk route and in Europe. For reasons unknown, pyrethrum production moved to the Dalmatia coast and again to Japan prior to WWII. Post WWII presented a new era for pyrethrum farming when production was moved to East Africa, Tanzania and Rwanda where soil and temperature conditions are ideal.
Pyrethrin – Nature’s own insecticide
Pyrethrin is the natural insecticide derived from the Chrysanthemum flower (Pyrethrum). It has been used to control pests for over a century and is generally considered quite safe. There are two types of Pyrethrins found in these flowers.
Pyrethrin should not be confused with pyrethroids (such as Permethrin). Pyrethroids are synthetic, or man-made, versions of pyrethrins. There are two major classes of pyrethroids, Type I and Type II pyrethroids. Type I pyrethroids are characterized by their ability to knockdown insects quickly but the Type II pyrethroids will induce higher insect mortality than Type I pyrethroids. While pyrethrum extract is composed of 6 esters which are insecticidal, a synthetic pyrethroid is composed of only one chemically active compound. Some differences in the chemistry between pyrethrins and synthetic pyrethroids have the result that synthetic pyrethroids have relatively longer environmental persistence than do pyrethrins. Pyrethrins have shorter environmental persistence than synthetic pyrethroids because their chemical structure is more susceptible to the presence of UV light and changes in pH.
One important difference between pyrethrins and synthetic pyrethroids is the behavioral effect they have on insects. Pyrethrins have a unique ability to induce excitation behavior in the target insect. This excitation behavior is characterized by erratic and increased movement by insects. This is sometimes referred to as ‘flushing’ action. This flushing action induced by pyrethrins is highly desirable; because of the increase in movement, it often results in increased insect exposure to pyrethrins.
Pyrethrins are considered one of the least toxic insecticides to mammals. In extensive studies toxicity to rats was 4000 times lower than toxicity to the house fly.
How to Use
Pyrethrin products are available in powders and sprays. They are also found in bug bombs and foggers and head lice treatments. You can use a duster or fogger to distribute the powdered products. Dusters are effective at getting pyrethrin powder into cracks and crevices around your house – a must if you are trying to get rid of bedbugs!
An effective powder for use inside the home is Agrothrin Dusting Powder. Diatomaceous Earth is another dust that does not contain pyrethrin but is chemical free, being produced from the shells of diatoms.
Sprays that are suitable for use in the home and in gardens or house plants are Protector Natural, Oa2ki Insect Spray and Oa2ki Concentrate.
As with any insecticide, always use as directed and pay special attention to precautions and instructions shown on the product label.
Pyrethrin is an insecticide which works by having a neurotoxic effect on insects. There is evidence that it also has some insect repellent properties. It is often combined with other substances, such as piperonyl butoxide (a synthetic sassafras oil) which makes the insects more susceptible to the Pyrethrin, or Diatomaceous Earth (silicon dioxide) a safe, mechanical insecticide which works by drying out the insects’ outer skeletons (exoskeletons).
Pyrethrin is effective against many insects, including fleas, ticks, ants, roaches, bedbugs, silverfish, lice, mites and mosquitos.
Pyrethrins and Pets
Pyrethrin is the active ingredient in many commercial flea and tick products, particularly powders and sprays. Unlike Permethrin, Pyrethrin flea and tick control products can be used on cats.
Although Pyrethrin is a “natural” product, there can be toxicity issues if it is ingested, or overused – follow precautions on the label and use with care!
Pyrethrin should not be used around fish or fish ponds.
Pyrethrum and crops
Pyrethrum provides superior insecticidal performance against a broad spectrum of insect pest species such as: aphids, thrips, leafhoppers, fruit flies, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, spider mites and many other insects. It is also one of the few insecticides allowed for use in Certified Organic Production of crops in the USA, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Pyrethrin is a naturally-derived pest control substance with a high safety rating which is effective against many types of insects. Remember that natural products might not work as quickly as their synthetic counterparts and because they break down more readily reapplication and persistance is key to their success. As with any product, carefully read and follow the label precautions and instructions for use.