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101 uses

There are 101 uses for natural pyrethrum…and then some!

Pyrethrum is the most effective insecticide on the planet. It is also the most versatile and effective insecticide available — even when you compare it with modern synthetic insecticides.

And, its toxicity to mammals is so low as to be almost inconsequential.

Mammals cannot develop chronic poisoning but natural pyrethrum can cause allergic reactions in some people. Sneezing is perhaps the first noticeable symptom. If you get allergic reactions to it, stay well out of the action. Don't use it. Sorry, the great advantages of pyrethrum are not for you.

101 uses?

When you multiply the number of insect pests pyrethrum controls by the number of places and situations you can use it — there are thousands of uses!

Pyrethrum is an insecticide and miticide that kills by contact. Whether it hits them as a droplet, is picked up as they walk over a recently treated surface or they eat a sprayed leaf, the pyrethrum attacks their nervous system and they die.

Secondly, pyrethrum is repellent to most insects. At levels mammals can't detect, insects, particularly bees, can ascertain the presence of pyrethrum and they stay well away.

Thirdly, pyrethrum has a short residual life when it is exposed to ultra violet light but lasts for months inside stored grain, for example. This is a really important advantage. There is no long term contamination of surfaces or areas. A thorough application gives a quick kill reducing the infesting population to almost nil and it takes time for another population build up. 

Here are some of the main categories of uses…

Flying insects

(Flies, mosquitoes, midges, moths, ferment flies, beetles, aphids, thrips, whiteflies, leafhoppers etc.)
Pyrethrum diluted in a light oil or emulsified in water and dispensed as a spray, mist, fog or aerosol is aimed at the pests. Impacted by a droplet or two... they die.

Repellency is an important factor. If you are organising a BBQ or other outdoor function, you can spray/fog all the surrounding foliage and buildings to kill all the mozzies and sandfly/midges. The area becomes repellent to new insects. It could be hours before the first bite!

Crawling insects

(Cockroaches, ants, caterpillars, spiders, mites, etc.)

Liquid formulations of pyrethrum sprayed into cracks and crevices will kill hiding insects. Powder formulations have been used for more than a hundred years to control fleas, lice and ticks on humans, dogs, etc… (Do not use on cats, which lick their fur).

Repellents

Apart from the examples of the BBQs already given, pyrethrum solutions wiped over the coats of horses, cattle, goats and dogs can give them relief from biting insects. Some years ago, dairy farmers increased milk yields considerably by repelling the annoying biting flies. This was done by spraying the herd after the morning milking which allowed the cows to relax and chew their cud and produce milk in greater quantities than if they were stressed by biting flies. Beef cattle feedlots could increase their beef production during those couple of months when biting flies reduce weight gain. An extra kilogram of prime beef a day times 10,000 steers is a lot of money!

Bees are repelled by tiny amounts of pyrethrum. If you spray late in the day when the bees are back in their hive, they will not come anywhere near the treated plants and areas until the UV light has done its job in degrading its effectiveness, say, about mid morning. If you don’t actually spray a bee, you won’t kill it.

Repellency has also been used on packaging. Varnishing the outside of paper and cardboard food packages was once a common practice to repel weevils and flour moths.

Protectants

Pyrethrum in a grain mass will protect against weevils and other grain eating insect pests for 3-6 months. It can protect your precious seeds from insects that just love to eat the embryo first. The residual life is longer because the pyrethrum is down in and mixed with the grain away from ultra violet light. If you’ve treated to protect stock feed, you can feed it out from next day onwards.

Plant pests

Flower, fruit, vegetable and ornamental plants are almost always attacked at some stage by aphids, thrips, bugs, hoppers, mites or leaf-eating caterpillars and beetles. If you can contact them by liquid or dust formulation of pyrethrum they will die. Because of the ultra violet sunlight, there is no residue next day and the crop is safe to harvest from then on. Pyrethrum is not a systemic so it will not enter or be circulated around the sapstream to kill sap-sucking insects such as scales, gall-formers or fruitfly larvae inside the plant tissue. Crop yield increases by much more than the cost of the pyrethrum and its application.

Other uses

If you are into making soap, adding pyrethrum will give you an insecticidal soap to wash dogs. You can add it to wax as well as, or instead of, citronella to use as an insect repellent BBQ candle.

Registration

If you wish to make a pyrethrum based product, you must register it with the National Registration Authority in Canberra.