Synthetic Insecticides

Pesticides are products designed to kill certain organisms. An insecticide is a pesticide formulated to kill insects. Chemical insecticides, both “organic” (of natural origin) and man-made or synthetic products continue to be the main method of battling insect pests of ornamental plants.

Insecticides registered by the EPA are considered to pose minimal risk to the user and the environment when used as directed. Insecticide applications can be effective for specific pests if used carefully. Follow directions on the product label to understand the proper method of application, what protective clothing must be worn, re-entry intervals to observe, and proper watering practices before and after treatment.

Insecticides and miticides have different modes of action of insects and other arthropods such as spider mites. These have been classified and described by the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC).

Watch these narrated, animated tutorials developed to understand modes of action of insecticide classes, see:

  • SP-320 – Insecticide Modes of Action: The Insect Nervous System and the Actions of Neurotoxic Insecticides (Physioviva Flash Tutorial)
  • SP-362 – Insecticide Modes of Action, Part 2 – insecticidal soaps, oils and dusts (Physioviva Flash Tutorial)

One example of insecticide active ingredients follow:


Indoxacarb, an oxadiazine class of novel chemistry manufactured by DuPont, acts as a sodium channel blocker, which acts on the insect’s nervous system. The ingested toxicant causes very rapid cessation of feeding (a few hours in Lepidopterans) and death within 48 hours. Animal and environmental toxicity is very low and the active ingredient has been labeled for use on vegetables and other crops around the world.  Since its primary path is through ingestion, it seemed to lend itself well to bait applications at very low dosages, such as are found in baits used to control red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren.