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What Are Natural Pesticides?

Natural Pesticides: An Alternative to Chemical Pesticides

Pesticides are widely used in agriculture to protect crops from pests, diseases, and other environmental stressors. However, the use of synthetic chemical pesticides has raised concerns about their potential health risks and environmental impacts. As a result, many growers and consumers are seeking alternative methods of pest control, including the use of natural pesticides.

Natural pesticides are derived from natural sources, such as plants, animals, and minerals, and are considered to be safer and less harmful to the environment compared to synthetic chemical pesticides (Bashan and Holguin, 2016). Examples of natural pesticides include neem oil, pyrethrum, bacillus thuringiensis (BT), and EPA exempt minimum risk alternatives like Plant BodyGuard.

Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree and has been shown to be effective against a wide range of pests (Subramanyam and Koul, 2009), but it has been banned in many countries including Canada for potential side effects and misuse.

Pyrethrum, extracted from the flowers of the pyrethrum daisy, is a natural insecticide that is toxic to a wide range of insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and ticks (Bashan and Holguin, 2016). However, In 2008, the Center for Public Integrity analyzed 90,000 adverse reaction reports and found that health problems linked to pyrethroids had increased 300 times in 10 years.

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) is a naturally occurring bacterium that is toxic to only a specific groups of insects, such as caterpillars and beetles (Arantes and Waquil, 2002).

Plant Bodyguard is a alternative pesticide and fungicide exempt from EPA registration since it is completely made from the EPA minimum risk ingredients list, and the active ingredients are natural and plant derived like thyme and peppermint oils. It is effective, breaks down quickly to avoid residue, and has minimal environment impact.

Despite the potential benefits of natural pesticides, it is important to consider the following when using them:

  • Efficacy: Natural pesticides may not be as effective as synthetic chemical pesticides in controlling certain pests and diseases.

  • Residue: Some natural pesticides can leave residue on crops, which may pose health risks to humans and animals that consume them.

  • Environmental impact: Some natural pesticides can have negative impacts on non-target species, such as beneficial insects, birds, and aquatic life.

In conclusion, natural pesticides can be a safer and more sustainable alternative to synthetic chemical pesticides for pest control in agriculture. However, it is essential to consider the efficacy, residue, and environmental impact of natural pesticides when making decisions about their use. Growers should also consider using integrated pest management practices, which combine the use of natural and synthetic pesticides with cultural, biological, and other methods, for a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to pest control.


Bashan, Y., and Holguin, G. (2016). Natural Pesticides from Microorganisms and Plants: Mode of Action and Environmental Impact. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Subramanyam, B., and Koul, O. (2009). Neem Oil: Composition, Uses, Mode of Action and Safety Concerns. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Arantes, V., and Waquil, J. M. (2002). Bacillus thuringiensis: A Tool for Pest Management. Microbiological Reviews.

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