Insecticides are agents of chemical or biological origin that control insects. There are many different types of insecticide application such as granular, fumigants, drenches, and sprays. Insecticide effectiveness usually depends on when and where the pest encounters it. Most insecticides are absorbed directly through an insect's exoskeleton. These compounds are known as contact poisons because they are effective "on contact". Other insecticides act as fumigants are released in the vapor state (as gases) and enter the insect's body through its tracheal system. Fumigants are most effective when they are used in an enclosed area such as a greenhouse, warehouse, or a grain bin. Still other compounds must be ingested before they have an effect. These are known as systemic insecticides.
Systemic insecticides are a special type of "stomach poison" and are absorbed by the tissues of a plant without any effects on the plant. Insect pests ingest the insecticide when they feed on the treated plant. Systemic insecticides can be incorporated into the soil around ornamentals or bedding plants. The insecticides are absorbed by the roots and transferred to leaves, stems, and flowers. If the insect that feeds on a treated plant doesn't acquire a lethal dose of insecticide, it may at least be deterred from further feeding. Although systemic insecticides are commonly applied to horticultural plantings, they are not as useful for many food crops because the insecticide remains in the food after harvest.
Acephate systemic insecticide such as Orthene is an example of systemic insecticide product used to protect lawns, shrubs, and ornamentals from various insect pests such as white grubs, japanese beetles, and molecrickets. Merit 0.5 G is a systemic granular product that contains more imidacloprid than standard store brand granules. Merit systemic granules give long term control of lawn pests such as white grubs, but the timing of insecticide application is crucial to be effective in killing grubs that feed on grass.
There are two distinct advantages of systemic insecticides:
The first advantage is long term control. A surface application is constantly exposed to the elements. Rainfall, irrigation and sunlight all play a part in the demise of the insecticide. A systemic product is protected by the elements since it remains inside the plant's leaves, stems and roots.The second advantage of systemic insecticides over conventional insecticides is that the entire plant is protected from attack by insects, grubs and mites. Root systems, stems and leaf portions of the plant all contain a small amount of your insecticide, not just the leaf surface.
Source: Dr. Wheeler Foshee, Auburn University and North Carolina State University
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