Why haven’t insecticides evolved? Insects have.

Although we have changed the ingredients of insecticides, we’re not changing the approach fast enough.  For 6 decades we’ve used the nervous system as the prime route to kill insects.  The problem with this method is we also have a nervous system, and although bugs and people are quite different, our nervous systems are also effected by things like pyrethrins.  A common misconception is that they’re completely safe, because they’re natural, so is botchulism.  Most companies use synthesised versions known as pyrethroids, you can spot these because the ingredient will have the suffix “frin”, ironic.  These synthetics are more dangerous because they last longer, extending exposure, also synergist an an inert chemical make it harder for any nervous system to tolerate.  I say focus on traits only carried by the bug.  A not so new product, that just hit the market is spinosad, discovered in 1981 by a scientist on vacation, we’re just starting to see this stuff on the shelves.  Spinosad is a bacteria spore, that only effect certain insects, it’s great, effective and selective, comes in a liquid or ant bait, and yes it works well on fire ants when used correctly.  Spinosad is safe for mammals and fish, and most beneficial insects, works on ants, beatles, and fleas.  Bti is a great insecticide that’s been around for a while, cost effective, safe for all when used correctly.  Bti, is also bacterial, effects only on all types of caterpillars, I use a dust blower, very lightly, to apply it only to the plants with pest caterpillars.  For leaf footed stink bugs I mix my own, this can be a hard bug to kill, trap crops planted edges(sunflowers, artichokes, milo) keeps them occupied, and out of the garden.  Orange oil and Molasses spray works great to dissolve the exoskeleton, but completely safe for us, kinda sticky though.  What about mosquitoes?  Mosquitoes are getting tougher every year, in part because our current method kills our natural defence, dragonflies, and it’s much harder to grow a dragonfly, mosquitoes can flourish in a coke cap of water.  With constant non-selective pesticides, all natural predators are killed, creating a constant pest cycle, and a great business structure for the spraying company.  Garlic based products will select only mosquitoes, every year we delay it makes the battle harder, our current sprays are quite effective at killing mosquitoes, but destroy the natural checks and balances and create more work.  The tools are here, we just need to use them.

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