Insecticides are substances that are used in agriculture industry and by consumers to kill insects. They help increase agricultural productivity. However, they have the potential to significantly alter ecosystems.
Some facts about Insecticides:
- Insecticides can be either systemic insecticides, having residual or long term activity and contact insecticides, having no residual activity.
- Systemic insecticides kills the insect when consumed by them when they feed on the plant. They will be killed completely when they ingest the insecticide that has been incorporated and distributed systemically throughout the whole plant.
- Systemic insecticides are absorbed and carried throughout the vascular system of the plant as they are sprayed directly on foliage
- Contact insecticides are effective in killing insects upon direct contact. The efficacy depends on the quality of pesticide application. These can be either organic insecticides, inorganic insecticides or natural insecticides.
- Contact insecticide are usually targeted at ants and wasps. These insecticides are applied by either spraying directly on insects, plants, or putting on exterior surfaces as siding, shutters, and fences. However, they can also kill bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.
- Inorganic insecticides, are usually metals including sulfur which is commonly used, and compounds of arsenates, copper and fluorine which are less commonly used. Organic chemical compounds are synthetically produced and are widely used today. Natural compounds like pyrethrum, neem oil etc can also be used as contact insecticides which does not have any residual activity.
- Many of the insecticides are toxic to humans as well as animals and some become concentrated as they spread along the food chain.
- Insecticides can be either repellent or non-repellent.
- Repellents insecticides can only repel the insects, but do not kill them.
- Non-repellents insecticides are useful in completely eradicating the insect group as it will not be dected by social insects such as ants.
- Some insecticides can also kill or harm other nontarget species in addition to those they are intended to kill.
- Insecticide that are sprayed may drift into wildlife areas from the area to which it is applied, especially when it is sprayed aeriall.
- DDT can be replaced by more dangerous or less effective alternatives such as lead and arsenic-based compounds.
- Solid bait and liquid insecticides can get moved by water flow if not applied properly in a location which can effect the quality of water sources, harming the natural ecology. This effect human populations indirectly through biomagnification and bioaccumulation.
- There is a possibility of pollinator decline, which is the loss of bees that pollinate plants, and colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which worker bees from a beehive or Western honey bee colony abruptly disappear leading to a reduction in crop yields as bees can be killed by insecticides.
- The populations of insectivorous birds can be declined as a effect of direct consumption of insecticides.
- It is very important to spray insecticide at the right time of year. The best time to address outdoor insects is a calm day.
- Spraying insecticide before a rainfall should be avoided to prevent chemicals from leaching through the soil and into the water sources, that can poison fish and other wildlife by entering creeks and streams.
- Care should be taken to prevent insecticide from contaminating other areas like sewers, and water sources while spraying them.
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