Organic pesticides and bio-pesticides

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) defines the word pesticide as a substance intended to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate any pest, including insects, mice and other animals, unwanted plants (weeds), fungi, or microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.

Pyrethrum1 When it comes to environmentally friendly pesticides, there are two types: Organic pesticides and bio-pesticides.

The EPA does not have much of an idea, it would seem though, for anything used against unwanted plants, e.g. weeds, is not called a pesticide but a herbicide. One of those days those guys will understand that as well.

Made with natural ingredients, organic pesticides are used to kill insects and other pests. While organic pesticides may be “all natural” and made without synthetic chemicals, it is important to note that they still can be considered toxic and very often are serious toxins.

Some organic pesticides may be highly toxic to specific animals but not to humans. Also of note is that organic pesticides may be harmful to beneficial insects like the ladybugs pictured above eating the aphids (the bad guys), as well as insect pests.

Nicotine is an organic pesticide that will kill aphids and such but it is harmful to beneficial insects; pollinators, bees amongst them.

Biopesticides on the other hand, are safer for both humans and the environment and reduce the risks associated with pesticide use because they suppress or prevent rather than destroy pests. Biopesticides are either biochemical such as insect pheromes or microbial, which are derived from microbes such as fungi or bacteria. Milky spore is an example of a microbial bio-pesticide.

Biopesticides focus on a specific action rather than a broad one that wipes everything out, persist for less time in the environment, and leave little to no residue behind.

Another type of bio-pesticides are nematodes and I have tested a number of them and found them to be working, including those against slugs and snails. Only thing to remember is to repeat apply them in the case of snails and slugs and also that they do not work against slugs and snail that travel in.

A further type of things could be regarded as bio-pesticides and that are plants that will repel (or act as an attractant, thus being sacrificed for the plant they are to protect) as it is done in companion planting. Pyrethrum is one of those plants which seem to repel black fly. In addition to that from this little daisy the organic pesticide pyrethrin has been derived. However, the compound is a neurotoxin and must be treated with care.

Ladybirds also could be and are being considered as bio-pesticide when used targeted to act against a variety of pests, predominately aphids.

Companion planting is one of the best ways to repel or divert pests from your plants, especially when it comes to growing food crops, in addition to so-called mechanical ways, such as the right kind of netting.

© 2012