Medicinal plants

Pyrethrum insecticide

Information and botanical notes

Tanacetum cinerariifolium is a species of herbaceous plant native to the Balkans belonging to the Asteraceae family. Also called Pyrethrum or Dalmatian Chrysanthemum, it grows in sunny meadows and in very numerous groups of individuals. The flowers have the appearance of a white daisy, with white and tapered petals, while the flower head (the central part of the flower, also called calatide) is bright yellow. The stems, about 50-80 cm in height, are robust and with a thick hair. The leaves are lobed and rather branched, often with bluish tinges along the central veins. Perennial species, it grows spontaneously in many areas, even if it is currently cultivated in much of the world thanks to its insecticidal properties.

Pyrethrum insecticide

Pyrethrum flowers are harvested shortly after flowering, before the flower fades completely. The petals are removed from the flower head and left to dry in the shade for several days. The raw pyrethrum powder thus obtained therefore represents the main component of current insecticides based on this natural element. Its insecticidal power is given by the pyrethrins, such as cinerine, pyretrotoxic acid and pyrethrol, present in large quantities in the flower head. These organic compounds are toxic to insects and various types of arthropods, but harmless to vertebrates and humans. Their action is neurotoxic and, once ingested, causes the total paralysis of the insect with consequent death. Since pyrethrins are easily degradable, they are never used as well,

How to use the pyrethrum

Given its natural origins, biodegradability and almost zero toxicity for warm-blooded animals, the pyrethrum insecticide is widely used in organic farming. Packs of actigreen pyrethrum are easily found on the market, intended for those who do not intend to use chemical insecticides, which are much more harmful. In some circumstances it can be used in the form of a potted plant, on terraces and balconies; it keeps mosquitoes and other annoying insects away and its range of action also extends to other nearby plants. Pyrethrum insecticides should be used at temperatures below 25 ° C, therefore, in summer, it should be distributed on plants in the late afternoon or evening. Be careful to spread it evenly on the vegetable, especially if it is heavily infested plants.


Although it is an organic product, the pyrethrum insecticide must still be used in compliance with certain standards. It is a non-selective insecticide, which means that it acts on all types of insects, even those useful for pollination such as butterflies, bees or bumblebees. Therefore the use must be regulated and limited only to infested vegetables and plants, taking care after harvesting to wash them properly with running water. It is also very harmful to organisms living in water (aquatic insects, fish, amphibians) and it is not recommended for use on aquatic plants or aquatic seeds of artificial lakes or ponds. Pyrethrum degrades easily at high temperatures, so it should be stored in a dark and completely dry place, out of the reach of children.

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