Pyrethrins & Pyrethroids
What are pyrethrins?
Pyrethrins are insecticides that are derived from the extract of chrysanthemum flowers (pyrethrum).
The plant extract, called pyrethrum contains pyrethrin I and pyrethrin II collectively, called pyrethrins.
What are pyrethroids?
Pyrethroids are synthetic (human-made) forms of pyrethrins. There are two types that differ in chemical structure and symptoms of exposure.
Type I pyrethroids include allethrin, tetramethrin, resmethrin, d-phenothrin, bioresmethrin, and permethrin.
Some examples of type II pyrethroids are cypermethrin, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, cyphenothrin, fenvalerate, and fluvalinate.
Both type I and II pyrethroids inhibit the nervous system of insects. This occurs at the sodium ion channels in the nerve cell membrane. Some type II pyrethroids also affect the action of a eurotransmitter called GABA.
What are pyrethrins and pyrethroids used for?
Pyrethrins are widely used for the control of various insect pests.
How do pyrethrins and pyrethroids work?
Nerve cell membranes have a specific electrical charge. Altering the amount of ions (charged atoms) passing through ion channels causes the membrane to depolarize which, in turn, causes a neurotransmitter to be released. Neurotransmitters help nerve cells communicate. Electrical messages sent between nerve cells allow them to generate a response, like a movement in an animal or insect.
Pyrethrins affect the nervous system of insects by causing multiple action potentials in the nerve cells by delaying the closing of an ion channel.
Pyrethrins and pyrethroids act as contact poisons, affecting the insect's nervous system.
Even though pyrethrins and pyrethroids are nerve poisons, they are not cholinesterase inhibitors like organophosphate or carbamate insecticides.
Pesticide products containing pyrethrins usually contain a synergist (such as piperonyl butoxide).
Synergists work by restricting an enzyme that insects use to detoxify the pyrethrins. A synergist allows the insecticide to be more effective.
How toxic are pyrethrins and pyrethroids?
Pyrethrins are one of the least poisonous insecticides to mammals.
Rats fed high doses (1,000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight or mg/kg) of pyrethrins showed liver damage.
Rats exposed to pyrethrins exhibited difficulty or rapid breathing, incoordination, sprawling of limbs, tremors, aggression, sensitivity to external stimuli, twitching, and exhaustion.
What effect does fipronil have on wildlife?
Pyrethrins are highly toxic to fish and tadpoles. They affect their skin touch receptors and balance organs.
Pyrethrins are toxic to beneficial insect (such as honeybees) and many aquatic invertebrates.
Pyrethrins are low in toxicity to humans, other mammals, and birds.
Signs of toxicity in humans.
Inhaling pyrethrins can cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, chest pain, or difficulty breathing.
Skin contact can cause a rash, itching, or blisters.
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