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How to treat Spanish Moss for Bugs ...using nature's insecticide

Pyrethrin products are a natural and commonly used insecticide amongst organic farmers.

Pyrethrin is the active constituent of the flowers of the pyrethrum plant, better known as chrysanthemum. Pyrethrin compounds do not persist in the environment since they readily biodegrade when exposed to oxygen, moisture and sunlight.

What are pyrethrins

Pyrethrum is the extract from the flowerhead of the Chrysanthemum plant. The six esters known collectively as pyrethrins are found within the pyrethrum extract. The pyrethrins are the active ingredient in pyrethrum that kills insects.

How do pyrethrins work

Pyrethrins excite the nervous system of insects that touch or eat it. This quickly leads to paralysis and ultimately their death. Pyrethrins are often mixed with another chemical to increase their effect.

What happens to pyrethrum in the environment?

Pyrethrum does not persist for a long time in the environment. The active chemicals in pyrethrum, pyrethrins, are degraded by high temperature and UV light.

Signs and symptoms from a brief exposure to pyrethrins

Pyrethrins are generally low in toxicity to people and other mammals. However, it can cause tingling or numbness on skin contact at the site of contact. Children who have gotten lice shampoo containing pyrethrins in their eyes have experienced irritation, tearing, burns, scratches to the eye, and blurred vision.

What happens to pyrethrins when they enter the body

Pyrethrins are absorbed poorly by skin contact. When inhaled or ingested, they are rapidly broken down into inactive products and are removed from the body.

Can pyrethrins affect birds, fish, or other wildlife

Pyrethrins are practically non-toxic to birds but highly toxic to honey bees. However, some of the risk to pollinators is limited by their slight repellent activity and rapid breakdown.

Further Reading...

EPA information on the use of pyrethrins
Cornell Universtity, Pesticide Management Education Program

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