Plant diseases

What is chlorpyrifos and what is it used for?

Plants can be affected by a wide variety of pests and microorganisms that cause diseases, but when potential enemies affect species that are suitable for human consumption, it is interesting to find (or create) insecticides that are really effective against them, such as chlorpyrifos.

But although it is hard to believe, sometimes what you do with it is to solve a problem to create another that, in the medium or long term, is worse. So before you start using it, keep in mind the tips that we are going to give you below.

What is chlorpyrifos?

It is a crystalline organosphosphate insecticide that what it does is poison the insect by collapsing its nervous system. Due to its great efficiency, it is widely used in agriculture and home gardening to control pests, such as whiteflies, thrips, mealybugs, weevils or caterpillars; although in the past it was also used in animals.

It does not dissolve easily in water (its solubility is 2mg per liter/ water at about 25ºC), therefore it is usually mixed with oily liquids before application. This is interesting, especially when we have to combat large or potentially deadly insects for plants, such as the red palm weevil or the Paysandisia archon. The larvae of both are drowned in the mixture, and die almost instantly.

It is considered a moderately toxic substance, so much so that if we continually expose ourselves, or repeatedly misuse them, we could end up having neurological problems, the immune system or even developmental disorders.

Where and when did manufacturing start?

It is an insecticide that was manufactured around 1965, in the United States, and began to be marketed by the Dow Chemical Company under the trade name Dursban and Lorsban. But due to its adverse effects, the EPA regulated it and Dow reacted by withdrawing the registration of its product for use in homes and other areas where children could be exposed. However, today its use in animals and people is still allowed in developing countries.

Chlorpyrifos is not very well regarded in the US. Due to misleading advertising by Dow, saying it is totally safe when it is not, on July 31, 2007 he was sued by a coalition of farmworkers and environmental advocacy groups, alleging that he posed an unnecessary risk to both farmers. as for their families.

The following month, its offices in India were seized by local authorities for an alleged bribery of officials so that the product could be sold in the country.

How does it work?

The one used in agriculture is a non-systemic insecticide, which acts as soon as it comes into contact with the insect. Once he ingests it, he dies poisoned.

In general, the product remains in the plant for about 30 days (the safety period will be specified on the packaging). We have to respect this time especially if we apply it to horticultural plants, otherwise we would run a very high risk of having health problems.

What are its adverse effects?

In humans and other animals

  • At low doses:
    • Nasal and eye discharge
    • Sickness
    • Dizziness
    • Diarrhea
    • Sweat
    • Changes in heart rate
  • At high and/ or continuous doses:
    • Behavior changes
    • Changes in sleeping habits
    • Humor changes
    • Muscular weakness
    • Convulsions
    • Paralysis
    • Fainting
    • Death

Chlorpyrifos and bees

Bees are one of the most important pollinating insects that plants – and therefore also humanity – rely on to be able to produce fruits and seeds. But if we don’t change chemical insecticides for ecological ones, we could end up without them. And then, we would be completely lost.

Chlorpyrifos is a very toxic substance for bees, as well as for marine life.

In the environment

The intensive use of this product, or of any chemical insecticide, causes the fauna that lives on earth little by little to die. We tend to think that nothing happens, that the fewer insects and others there are below the surface, the better the plants will grow, but that is a serious (very serious, actually) mistake.

Take worms for example. They are in charge of keeping the soil aerated, which is very good for the roots as this way they can have a better development. And that is not to mention that there are many plants that create symbiotic relationships from which both they and insects obtain benefits, such as ants and plants that produce showy flowers.

In addition, when they relieve themselves or die, they fertilize the soil. Without this decomposing organic matter, no plant could exist (not as we know them today at least).

Security measures to follow before, during and after its application

When talking about an insecticide so dangerous for animals, and for us, it is extremely important to follow some basic safety measures:

  • Put on new or rarely used rubber gloves, without holes. The use of protective glasses and a mask is not too much.
  • Apply it only if the plant is in semi-shade or shade, or failing that at sunset.
  • Follow the instructions specified on the package to the letter.
  • Wash hands with soap and water if the product has come into contact with the skin, as soon as possible. Also wash them after each use.
  • Do not smoke, and do not apply it on windy days.

I hope you have learned a lot about chlorpyrifos .

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