THE USE OF NATURAL PRODUCTS TO CONTROL PESTS

Fieldtech IPS believes the logical solution to organic pest control is to create a balance of organisms in your yard or garden. In a diverse ecosystem pest populations are regulated naturally. Development of this balance relies on products that minimize harm to pollinators and other beneficial insects. Traps and pheromone lures are used to identify the presence of pests, and to help control them. If garden pests are present the least-toxic solutions should be used first barriers and repellents, beneficial insects, biological pesticides, soaps and oils with the more toxic (but short lived) botanical or natural pesticides used only if necessary.

Natural products (NPs) have long been used as pesticides and have broadly served as a source of inspiration for a great many commercial synthetic organic fungicides, herbicides and insecticides that are in the market today. In light of the continuing need for new tools to address an ever‐changing array of fungal, weed and insect pests, NPs continue to be a source of models and templates for the development of new pest control agents. Interestingly, an examination of the literature suggests that NP models exist for many of the pest control agents that were discovered by other means, suggesting that, had circumstances been different, these NPs could have served as inspiration for the discovery of a great many more of today’s pest control agents. Here, an attempt is made to answer questions regarding the existence of an NP model for existing classes of pesticides and what is needed for the discovery of new NPs and NP models for pest control agents.

Natural products have been used to control animal pests, plant diseases, and weeds since ancient times. The biological activity spectrum of natural pesticides is extremely variable, and the selectivity is often achieved by targeted application, often relying on the behavior of the target pest. However, the biological property of a chemical is a function of its structure rather than its origin. The biological activity exerted by a given dose of the compound under given circumstances, especially as related to safety, depends on the way in which the chemical is used.

Natural substances used for pest and disease control are generally non-persistent under field conditions. Most of these often-complex molecules are readily transformed abiotically by light and/or oxygen into less toxic products. There are many natural insect control agents, most of which were discovered by empirical screening of plants and, recently, other natural sources. Moreover, research on insect physiology and behavior made possible the commercialization of chemicals that can be used to manipulate insect development or behavior.

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