Control by Pesticides: Natural and Man-made

Protecting Plants and Trees from Invasive Pests

Pesticides can be either natural or man-made, and can be used as stand-alone products or in combination with biological control techniques. Both forms of pesticides must be approved for specific uses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be sold and used in the United States. Biologically-based pesticides, such as pheromones and microbial pesticides, are becoming increasingly popular and often are safer than traditional chemical pesticides. Some of these products are registered for use on organic crops and allow organic growers to control problem insects while maintaining their organic certification.


A new class of chemicals with particular relevance to non-native, invasive species control has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One of those is Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.), a naturally-occurring soil bacterium that causes disease in insects. B.t. is considered ideal for pest management because of its specificity to pests and because of its lack of toxicity to humans or the natural enemies of many crop pests. There are different strains of B.t., each with specific toxicity to particular types of insects. For example, B.t. kurstaki (B.t.k.) controls various types of lepidopterous insects, including the Gypsy Moth and cabbage looper.


Another chemical is Spinosad, a product whose active ingredient is from a naturally occurring bacterium that is grown through a fermentation process. It is as effective as a man-made chemical and offers the benefits of a biological control agent.


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Last Modified: June 9, 2010