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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Insecticides


During my “staycation” at the Bugout Location (BOL), I knew I needed to do something to control the infestation of spiders and Japanese beetles that have been a problem for several years. I chose an insecticide that I have used at work (I'm a licensed custom pesticide applicator) and was pleasantly surprised at how effective it has been.

Background on Insecticides
Like weeds and bacteria, insects are evolving resistance to the control methods we have used for years. Since very little in life is 100% effective, whenever we use a pesticide (which is a generic term that covers herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides) or antibiotic that doesn't kill everything we want dead, we are leaving survivors that will breed and pass on their resistance to that pesticide/antibiotic. To combat this inherited resistance, various groups have been studying exactly how a pesticide works on the cellular level (this is known as Mode of Action, or MoA) and recommend alternating treatments with differing MoAs to break the chain of inheritance. 

Manufacturers are starting to put the standardized MoA classification number on their labels to make it easier to pick the one you want. If you want the biology lesson necessary to understand the differences, let me know and I will put it together; for now, just recognize that each number designates a different MoA. The list of MoAs can be found here as a pdf file starting on page 5, or here as a poster.

Besides the MoA, you'll also see various abbreviations on a pesticide label that may not be obvious. A fairly comprehensive list can be found here.
  • A number after the name of the chemical indicates how many pounds of active ingredient per gallon is in the container. This is handy when mixing large batches to cover large areas. 
  • If you see “RTU” on a label it means “Ready To Use”, which is common for the stuff you will find in the hardware store (overpriced and overly diluted). 
  • The abbreviation “SC” stands for “Suspension Concentrate” which means that the active ingredients aren't soluble in water but will form a suspension. Think of the pulp in a container of orange juice, if you keep it stirred up, the pulp stays suspended in the juice but it will settle to the bottom if you let it sit. 
  • “WP” or just “W” means it is a “wettable powder”, meaning it is a powder that will dissolve in water forming a solution. These powders are often as fine as dust or talc and can be a pain to measure and mix. 
  • “WSP” stands for “water soluble packet”, meaning that the ingredients are pre-measured into a package that will dissolve in water (making it safer to handle). 
Tempo Ultra SC
This is the insecticide I picked. We use this product at work since most of our locations are located in rural areas., and beetles, roaches, spiders, millipedes, and various other pests like to move into our buildings. 

Some morons imported a Japanese beetle to eat the aphids that attack soy beans, but they have no natural predator in the USA. They stink (alive or dead) and swarm buildings in the fall. I have had to clean a solid layer of them off of the floor of my cabin every year since they imported these pests. They look something like a ladybug, but these bite. Tempo is one of the few things I've found that kills them.
  • It is labeled (a legal term) to be used in and around homes, food and feed handling facilities, schools, and hospitals. 
  • It is a Type 3 insecticide, a synthetic pyrethrin ( a class known as pyrethroids) that disrupts the insect's nervous system by blocking the mechanism that allows their muscles to relax after contracting. 
  • Special steps should be taken to keep it away from fish and other aquatic animals. 
  • Most mammals can break down small quantities naturally without harm, but cats lack an enzyme needed to break it down and are more susceptible to poisoning. 
  • It is labeled to kill over 100 common insects, so keep it away from bees and bee hives. 
When used according to the label instructions, I have seen excellent contact kill results when it is sprayed on visible insects. Wasps and hornets don't die quite as quickly as they would if sprayed with a petroleum-based insecticide, but the residual kill makes up for it. The label claims that the residue will continue to kill for up to 90 days; I've seen it keep killing for almost a year when applied to interior surfaces. I applied it to the basement in my BOL after clearing out the cobwebs (they were thick enough to clog the sprayer nozzle, so I had to clear them first). Normally the spiders would have new webs up within 24 hours of my knocking them down, but I have seen no new webs after 72 hours.

With no odor and being non-staining, this stuff is great for using in areas where people work and live. Once it dries, it is safe for pets and kids, and I can attest that it doesn't stain anything that water won't. It is a very fine powder that is carried by the water, so once the water dries it stays where it was applied for residual kill effect. Having no odor is great for those of us who can't handle many of the commercial fragrances.

When used outdoors, Tempo is good enough to take care of fire ants, ticks, fleas, boxelder bugs, and scorpions. Those are some tough bugs to kill, so it is a good choice for treating the soil around a building as well as the outside of the foundation. From what I've seen at work, ants and roaches walking over treated ground don't generally make it more than a foot or two before they stop moving.

Tempo comes in a few different forms. The prices may seem high for such small quantities, but when you look at how much each container will make, it is a lot cheaper than the stuff in the hardware store.

Tempo Ultra SC
My choice for mixing up in half-gallon or one-gallon batches for use inside. Makes up to 30 gallons of spray.

Tempo Dust

This is handy for treating cracks in stone or concrete structures, long residual action. It's applied directly and not diluted.

Tempo WP

This leaves a powdery residue, so it's better suited for use outside. It makes about 42 gallons, depending on mixing rate.

Words of Warning
Please read and follow the label instructions. Not only is it a federal offense to go “off-label”, mixing it too weak or too strong isn't going to do any good. 

Wear gloves and eye protection. A mask is also a good idea if you're going to be spraying overhead. 
With careful use,  this could be a good aid in protecting your stored food (and family members) from insects.

The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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