Pyrethrin sprays are organic pesticides that have been used as insect control for more than 160 years, and they contain chemicals taken from chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethrins are a natural insect-killer that can be very effective on certain orchard pests. Most insects are highly susceptible to pyrethrins, even at low concentrations, and these sprays can cause immediate knock down of some pests.

Pyrethrum are the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium and coccineum.  Pyrethrin is the extracted active ingredient and Pyrethroids are synthetically produced chemical versions.  All three function by penetrating the cuticle of insects and attacking the nervous system, causing the insect to lose all function of the affected nerve cells. This, in most cases, causes immediate death of the insect.  Pyrtherin works best on chewing and sucking insects, which in the orchard may include aphids, codling moths, leafhoppers, spider mites, stink bugs, and pear psyllas.  Recent testing has also shown it to be the most effective organic spray for control of Spotted Lanternfly.


Pyrethrin is derived from certain Chrysanthemum daisies and yes it is possible to grow and make your own natural sprays at home!


Although Pyrethrin sprays are less toxic than many chemical pesticides, they should be used with caution, and only when non-chemical controls are not effective. Pyrethrins can kill both beneficial and pest insects, so use this chemical wisely.

Pyrethrin can be moderately toxic to mammals, so wear protective clothing when spraying and follow all label instructions for mixing and applying. The EPA has approved it for more uses than any other insecticide and organic versions are sold under the trade names PyGanic, Entire and Safer Yard and Garden Insect Killer. Pesticide labels are legal documents, so be sure to read the label and follow all procedures to kill your pests in the safest way possible.


Scout your orchards throughout the spring and summer months, and when an insect pest is found, identified, and causing a lot of damage to your tree or fruits, consider using pyrethrum or pyrethrin as an effective control method to protect your crop.  In some cases, more than one application may be necessary for effective control.  Pyrethrin should be used only for spot treatment of specific and severe outbreaks of pests, not as a universally applied spray for an entire orchard.  Twilight is the preferred time for application to minimize damage to beneficial insects.




This edition of POP TIPS prepared with assistance from POP intern Nettie Baugher. 

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