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Audio Blog: Insecticide Active Ingredients

March 29, 2024 | Categories: ,
mosquito on a leaf

There are many insecticides on the market, all of which go by different names, but there are only a handful of active ingredients that eliminate insects. We’ll go over eight of the most common active ingredients, the insects each of them controls, why we would want to use one active ingredient over another, and more.

We’ll begin with bifenthrin.

Bifenthrin is a great all-around insecticide. It has a very wide label, so you can control beetles, caterpillars, soft-bodied insects such as aphids and whiteflies, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.

Bifenthrin can be used in several different ways. It can be used in a spreader/sprayer application for surface-feeding insects or it can be used in a wide variety of tree and shrub applications. 

Bifenthrin is the go-to option over other active ingredients when you need curative control, and systemics aren’t an option. Bifenthrin is a contact insecticide and provides effective caterpillar control—especially so for eliminating bagworms on arborvitae.

With a spreader/sprayer, try to get a volume of at least half a gallon of product per thousand square feet. You can also use it in a granular form, and Advanced Turf offers a granular bifenthrin product called ProSect.

Next, we’ll cover imidacloprid.

Imidacloprid, like bifenthrin, is also a great all-around insecticide. It works on most insects, including beetles and soft-bodied insects such as whiteflies and aphids. You can also get some ant control. It’s not great on caterpillars, butterflies, or moths, however.

Use imidacloprid over other active ingredients when you are looking to control white grubs and other subsurface feeders. It’s also a great product to use when looking at ease of application on trees and shrubs. Imidacloprid can be applied via a soil drench and as a systemic. It will go up through the tree or shrub, controlling insects like boring beetles that are under the bark. Leaf feeders can be controlled this way, too.

Imidacloprid is best used in two different ways. You can use it as a granular for grub control on a fertilizer, or you could use it as a soil drench or soil injection.

You can use imidacloprid with a ride-on sprayer/spreader if you have enough water volume. Using a high-roller pump and applying at two gallons per thousand square feet is effective.

We’ll cover clothianidin next.

Clothianidin, like imidacloprid, is a systemic insecticide, and the two are very similar.

Clothianidin is a good option when quicker knockdown is needed compared to a similar ingredient like imidacloprid. For instance, when grubs are already present and you’re seeing damage, clothianidin will give you quicker control of those insects than imidacloprid will.

Clothianidin works well on its own, but can be very powerful when combined with bifenthrin. It makes a great combo product for grub control (pre or post) and if you have an active grub infestation, you can get quicker knockdown post-control of grubs than you would with other active ingredients. 

Clothianidin can be used in a ride-on spreader/sprayer, especially in granular form. If you are applying clothianidin in liquid form, such as Aloft liquid or Arena liquid, with a spreader/sprayer, ensure that you have enough water volume.

Fourth on our list is permethrin.

Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid, and it has a very wide label, providing control over many insects, including caterpillars, beetles, bees and wasps.

Permethrin, as we carry it here at ATS, is in a product called Astro. Astro is an oil-based synthetic pyrethroid, whereas bifenthrin is a water-based synthetic pyrethroid. Permethrin can actually penetrate the bark. It will not move up through the tree, but it can penetrate through the tree and through the bark so you can get control of bark beetles and other wood-boring insects. It also provides quicker knockdown than bifenthrin. Permethrin can be used with ride-on spreader/sprayers if you are going after surface-feeding insects.

A good use case for permethrin is for control of bark beetles and/or if you need a very quick knockdown of insects like bald-faced hornets or other wasps.

Next, we have trichlorfon.

Trichlorfon is best known as it’s product name, Dylox, which is most commonly used as post-grub control.

It’s also commonly used when there is an active grub infestation and there is also evidence of animal damage on that turf. Trichlorfon will give you a really quick knockdown but it has a very short residual. Dylox comes in both granular and liquid formulations.

You can use Dylox with a ride-on spreader/sprayer in granular and liquid form. If using liquid, add at least one gallon of water per thousand square feet for the right volume.

Our next active ingredient is dinotefuran.

Dinotefuran, or Safari, is a great all-around insecticide. It will control a wide number of insects, from beetles to caterpillars to soft-bodied insects. Dinotefuran is a systemic insecticide and will go up the tree—very similar to imidacloprid—but it’s actually more water soluble than imidacloprid, meaning that it can move up the tree faster.

Dinotefuran shines when used against boring beetles when a trunk injection is off the table, as well as for going after leaf-feeding beetles and applying it as a bark treatment. Dinotefuran also works well against soft-scaled insects.

Dinotefuran is incredibly effective as a trunk treatment. You can spray it out of a backpack or a hand can onto the trunk, and it will be absorbed through the bark and move up the tree.

Next up is emamectin benzoate.

Emamectin benzoate is best at controlling boring insects—not the kind you want to snooze on— but wood-boring insects. It can also be used on caterpillars and beetles, too.

Emamectin benzoate is a good choice for wood-boring beetle control, especially those that are invasive insects, such as the emerald ash borer, or for those who are unfortunate enough to have it, the Asian longhorned beetle. Emamectin benzoate is best used in trunk injection systems.

Finally, we have carbaryl.

Carbaryl is a broad-spectrum insecticide that’s effective on pretty much every insect around, from soft-bodied insects like aphids and white flies to beetles and even to some insect relatives like spiders and ticks.

Carbaryl is intended for use on golf courses and commercial turf and can be used to spot treat on residential. If you are looking for a contact insecticide that will give you a very quick knockdown but does not give you a long residual, carbaryl may be your best bet.

Carbaryl can be used on ornamentals and turf and can also be used as perimeter control. Since carbaryl’s residual doesn’t last as long as other insecticides, it’s best used for quick knockdown and to control a population that is established but not there and when you’re not expecting a rebound population. Carbaryl can be used out of a ride-on spreader/sprayer if you can get water volume to at least one gallon per thousand. The volume helps push the carbaryl down through the thatch layer to where the insect population is going to be. For ornamentals, spray to drip, and for perimeter, you’re going to do a light coating three feet up and three feet out from the building. Be sure not to apply carbaryl to plants that are in bloom.

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