Generally, biopesticides are made of living things, come from living things, or they are found in nature. They tend to pose fewer risks than conventional chemicals.
Very small quantities can be effective and they tend to break down more quickly, which means less pollution.
Some biopesticides are targeted in their activity, often working on a small number of species. However, users need more knowledge to use biopesticides effectively.
This is because they are often most effectively used as part of an Integrated Pest Management approach.
Types of biopesticides:
- Microbes - These are tiny organisms like bacteria and fungi. They tend to be more targeted in their activity than conventional chemicals.
For example, a certain fungus might control certain weeds, and another fungus might control certain insects. The most common microbial biopesticide is Bacillus thuringiensis.
- Substances Found in Nature – These include plant materials like corn gluten, garlic oil, and black pepper. These also some include insect hormones that regulate mating, molting, and food-finding behaviors.
They tend to control pests without killing them. For example,, they might repel pests, disrupt their mating, or stunt their growth.
Some synthethic substances are allowed. However, they must be similar in shape and makeup to their natural counterparts. They must also work in the exact same way against pests.
- Plant-Incorporated Protectants (PIPs) – These are the genes and proteins, which are introduced into plants by genetic engineering.
They allow the genetically modified plant to protect itself from pests, like certain insects or viruses. For example, some plants produce insect-killing proteins within their tissues.
They can do this because genes from Bacillus thuringiensis were inserted into the plant’s DNA. Different types of proteins target different types of insects.
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated November 13, 2015