Use these book suggestions to build your pesticide
Ext. Entomologist (ret.)
What is a pesticide?
A pesticide is
a chemical intended to kill, or disrupt the
population of, a pest organism. Pests are unwanted
insects, mites, plants, disease causing organisms
(antibiotics are technically pesticides), and other
organisms that interfere with health or commerce. Insecticides
target insects, herbicides target plants, fungicides
target disease-causing fungi.
The definition of what
is, or is not, a pesticide has nothing to do with
whether or not the chemical is "organic" or natural.
For example nicotine, a natural component of the
tobacco plant, has been used as a powerful
insecticide for more than a hundred years. Sulfur is
an effective miticide (a pesticide that targets
mites) and sodium borate, which is mined as "borax",
is an effective insecticide. Pyrethrum from the
dried flowers of certain species of chrysanthemum
has been used as an "insect powder" for hundreds of
insecticides have been around since shortly after
World War II but until the mid-1990s there were only
insecticides like aldrin, heptachlor, chlordane and
DDT were developed to combat mosquitoes and lice and
were later widely used, and mis-used, for other
insecticides like dimethoate, acephate (Orthene) and
chlorpyrifos (Dursban) are far more acutely toxic to
vertebrate animals but much less persistent in the
environment than organochlorines.
carbaryl (Sevin), aldicarb (Temik) and bendiocarb
are somewhate safer because they don't induce
irreversible metabolic changes in humans.
insecticides like permethrin, cyfluthrin (Tempo) and
bifenthrin (Talstar) are effective at lower
application rates and tend to be very stable in
sunlight compared to organophosphates.
In the last ten years
there has been rapid development of new classes of
insecticides with an emphasis on lower vertebrate
toxicity and more targeted applications. Newer
materials also tend to be much higher cost which has
the benefit of reducing overall use.
In 1962 Rachel Carson
published Silent Spring (above), a warning
about the effects that the widespread use of highly
persistent pesticides were having on the environment
and wildlife. The book ignited a debate that
eventually lead to the establishment of the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US during
the early 1970s. Government oversight of pesticide use
through label laws has directly lead to safer and less
environmentally damaging pesticides.