Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Scourge of Imidicloprid

If you're like me, then while your wife is looking at power tools at Home Depot, Lowes, or wherever, you are looking at the active ingredients on pesticides in the garden aisle.  Which means you have probably noticed that many general purpose over the counter insecticides are now imidacloporid based.

As an industry, we have relied on imidacloprid, Merit in its most popular form, for more than a decade.  Applied properly it is a great product.  It is in the neonicotinoid family of chemicals, and its mode of action is kind of neat.  The chemical interferes with an insects nervous system which results in death. Imidacloprid can be applied as a foliar spray, soil application, or directly injected into the trunk.  It is nontoxic to mammals, has a long residual, and can be quite effective.

However there are some things we need to consider when using this pesticide.  Studies have shown that with repeated use the molecule can make its way into the flowers of plants.  For trees and shrubs that are not wind pollinated this exposes pollinators to the product, and may lead to civilian casualties in the war against plant pests.

The other issue is pest resistance to imidacloprid.  In some areas imidacloprid has been so heavily used that it is no longer effective against targeted pests.  With imidaclolprid now being readily available to the public at large, and continued reliance on the chemical in many professional PHC programs, we may only assume that this pest tolerance will grow.

There are few 'silver bullets' in pest management.  Product/chemical diversity is an important part of an IPM program.  Imidacloprid may still be part of your chemical arsenal  but pest monitoring and investigating different products for use on target pests should be on the forefront.

The molecule