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Green Pesticides?

By Chris Williams on May 14, 2015.
green leaf with water droplet

The tem ‘green pesticide’ certainly sounds like an oxymoron, because how can something that kills be ‘green’? Well, the search for more target specific active ingredients for insecticides has produced some amazing discoveries in the past few years. The compound I’d like to bring your attention is chlorantraniliprole, which is the first in an entirely new class of active compounds known as anthranilic diamides.

These compounds were discovered about ten years ago. They have a ‘novel’ (fancy way of saying new!) mode of action that involves activation of the insect’s ryanodine receptors. Once exposed, the insect’s muscle cells are stimulated to release calcium stores, causing eventual paralysis and death.  Toxicity profile to mammals and other non-target beneficial (pollinator, predators, and parasitic) insects and mites is extremely low.

Currently, this compound is marketed in products for crop protection from foliar feeding beetles, and caterpillars. In my industry it is now available in a product for traditional termite control and is showing up in bait products for fly control.  Will a general pest control use formulation soon follow? Don’t know yet. The discovery and development of this new class of chemistry is exciting in that it provides a new tool to use in the battle to both protect our food supply and our dwellings with a great margin of safety.

Oh, and by the way, the active ingredient for these products now is synthesized for commercial use, but it was initially isolated from the bark of shrubs belonging to the genus Ryania, and I don’t think you can get any greener than that!

Photo credit: push 1 / Foter / CC BY

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