Natural vs. Synthetic Arguement

In the end, if you decide you need to kill the critters you will need to decide whether to use a “natural” type insecticide or a “synthetic” insecticide. The differences are not all that great no matter what you read in some of the literature. Natural insecticides, sometimes called “organic” insecticides have been preferred by people concerned about the side effects of such products on the ecology of the yard and garden and in general on the environment as a whole. Fifty years ago, when the “organic movement” had its emergence, synthetic products such as DDT, Diazinon, and Chloridane were common household products and indeed have been proven to be harmful to the environment. Now in 2004 the majority of potentially harmful synthetic pesticides have been banned from home use. In their place are a collection new synthetic products mostly based on pyrethroid chemistry which evolved from the early use of pyrethrin made from chysanthemum blossoms. Any synthetic products listed in Yardener’s Tool Shed or recommended in Yardener’s Helper have been carefully screened by the editors and determined to be, in their view, products that are effective and at the same time very safe in the environment.

That is not to say that folks preferring to work with truly ‘natural’ products should not continue to do so. Jeff Ball, one of the key editors of this web site has been an organic gardener for 30 years. His views are reflected in this file. In his view, the difference between natural insecticides and synthetic insecticides today rests with the details of application requirements and not with any concern about negative impact on the environment. Natural products tend to be much more dependent on following precise directions to be effective than do most of the synthetic products. Both groups will do the job, but you need to be very sure, when using natural insecticides, that you follow the instructions on the label carefully. Often you must hit both the top of the leaves and the undersides of the leaves, not usually a requirement of the synthetic products. Often you must apply the natural product twice three to five days after the first application, again not usually a requirement of the synthetic products. In the end, you will make your own decision. Yardener’s Helper always recommends a natural solution and a synthetic solution.

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