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Are Permethrin and Pyrethrum Insect Dust Safe for My Garden?

Most garden insecticides are some form of permethrin. Are they safe for my garden?

Gardeners call from all over with the same few questions. What is permethrin and is it safe? Is it organic? Is it environmentally safe?

Permethrin is found in many products. It is the main chemical in many lice treatments, flea treatments, garden dusts, roach sprays and more, but is it safe?

Permethrin is a synthetic version of pyrethrum. Please don't run off- I am going to simplify this for you. Pyrethrum is an organic insecticide derived from mums. Since it would take acres and acres of mums to supply our country with enough pyrethrum, our clever chemists copied the chemical make up, which is referred by the name of Permethrin.

Permethrin is a pretty cool chemical compound for a few different reasons.

For one, Permethrins and pyrethrums break down quickly. This means the chemical decomposes back down to its elemental parts. In other words, it is not left in the environment.

Another reason this chemical is so great is that it does not mix well in water. So if the chemical comes in contact with a stream, it will bind (or hang onto) solids, such as dirt and not pollute our water ways.

Permethrin and Pyrethrum are great also because there is very little wait time after application. You can wash your tomatoes and eat them, right after you douse them with this dust. Keep in mind that soft fruits such as strawberries can absorb the insecticide into the fruit, so use caution.

Even though permethrin also comes in a liquid, I prefer the dust. With the dust you can actually see where the chemical is going. The dust kills almost every insect, except stink bugs. Those little devils are hard to kill.

Permethrin is dangerous to bees. You should not dust the flowering parts your vegetable plants. We need the bees to pollinate. No bees, no vegetables. Also, only dust when you have problem. If you see beetles eating your cucumber leaves, dust them, if not- wait. Keep the dust away from the blooms. Your winter garden will consist of mustards, turnips, kale, lettuce and more. Greens do not have flowering blooms so you can dust more often.

Chemicals are great if and only if used responsibly. We have been given dominion over the plants, animals and the environment, be it by God or by our mass population. It is up to us to preserve our surroundings for generations to come. Use chemicals, but use them only as needed. I want to hear your garden questions. As always, Get Growing South Carolina.

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