Sunday, April 21, 2024

Understanding Common House and Garden Insecticides

Pesticides include any substances used to kill, control or repel pests. We use pesticides almost every day, from ant and roach sprays for the kitchen, to weed killers for the lawn, mildew cleaners for the bathroom and mosquito repellents outdoors. Pesticides have become a widely accepted way to keep our homes and gardens relatively pest-free. About 85% of all American households keep at least one pesticide in storage. medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘120’; medianet_crid=’823273624′;

Despite our willingness to use them, most consumers associate pesticides with pollution, health risks and toxic chemicals. Surveys show that about 75% of consumers are wary of using pesticides in the home. Many people today are avoiding certain synthetic (man-made) pesticides in favor of natural or “organic” products. But regardless of whether a substance comes from natural or artificial sources, if it controls pests, it’s a pesticide. And as long as pests are around, chances are that we will use pesticides.

There are many types of pesticides. Insecticides are pesticides designed to control insects. Herbicides are pesticides designed to kill weeds. There are dozens of others. In this f@ctsheet we will learn about the different kinds of insecticides and how to choose the right one for the job.Understanding Common House and Garden Insecticides

Choosing the right formulation

The first decision to make when selecting a pesticide is what formulation to use. A formulation is the way the pesticide active ingredient is mixed with inert ingredients to make it convenient and effective to use. Factors that influence the choice of formulation include cost, convenience in mixing and use, effectiveness against your target pest and safety. The following table describes the most important types of insecticide formulations and how they should be used.

Table 1. Various types and uses of insecticide formulations.



Where and how to use

Relative Safety



An insecticide active ingredient is sprayed onto a finely ground dust.

Dusts are best used to deliver an insecticide to difficult-to-reach areas. Common uses include treatment of ants in a wall, or wasps in the ground. Ants and other social insects will track the applied dust deeper into a nest. Dusts are often sold for garden use, but application there is inefficient and much of the insecticide is likely to be blown or washed off the intended target. Best to apply with a crank duster or squeeze bottle designed for applying dusts.

Low to moderate. Easy to inhale, may drift from the intended target site.



Insecticide is sprayed onto an inert, absorptive granule; usually consisting of clay, ground corn cob, or nut husks.

Granular insecticides are designed to provide control of soil dwelling insects. They are less effective against surface crawling pests, unless these also spend much time underground in the treatment zone. Commonly used for control of ants, grubs, millipedes, etc. Easy to apply with a rotary, drop, or hand-held seed spreader.

High. Because insecticide is impregnated inside an inert carrier, spills are easily contained and little exposure risk to exposed skin.



Insecticide mixed with gas in a metal can. Can be designed to produce a various particle sizes from fine aerosol to liquid stream.

Easy to use and apply, designed for application of residual sprays for crawling insects as well as for aerosol fogs for flying insects, depending on product. Commonly sold for ant and roach control, or flying insect control. Despite the impression given by advertisements, aerosol fogs do not penetrate well into cracks and crevices where pests hide.

Low to moderate. Some formulations are flammable. Solvents may add to toxicity, and exposure risk to skin is higher. Empty cans should be wrapped in newspaper for disposal to prevent accidental punctures.



Consist of an insecticide mixed with a food or attractant to entice the insect to ingest. Come in various forms including pellets, dusts, gels, liquids and granules.

One of the most effective control methods for controlling social insects, like ants and termites. Also very effective on cockroaches and crickets. Various ways to apply.

High safety due to the low percentage active ingredient needed to produce control. Containerized baits are exceptionally safe. Broadcast treatments of low rates is generally the safest application method.

Low to moderate

Spray – Ready to Use (RTU)

Premixed liquid, usually in a pump spray bottle or as a hose-end attachment.

Designed for convenience, RTU sprays require the user to just point and pump or attach to a garden hose. No mixing required. Usually designed for tree, lawn and garden sprays, flea sprays.

Moderate. Because there is no mixing, risk of your exposure to the concentrate is eliminated. User should avoid exposure to spray drift by using gloves and long-sleeves.

Moderate to high

Spray – Concentrate

Concentrated active ingredient in an emulsion or solution. Designed to be mixed with water before application.

Wide range of uses include both indoor and outdoor sprays, lawn and garden sprays and soil drenches.

Higher risk because of need to mix concentrated product and potential for exposure to spillage, drift or splashing.


Source: medianet_width=’600′; medianet_height= ‘250’; medianet_crid=’810779177′;

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