The Science Behind Botanical Pesticides and 10 Key Benefits of EcoVia Botanicals for PMPs

Background on Botanical Oils

Using plant extracts as insecticides goes back to when botanical insecticides including pyrethrum, nicotine, and rotenone were found and used to kill and repel insects. Unfortunately, the use and interest in these natural ingredients were replaced by the discovery of synthetic insecticides after World War 2. However, problems with the synthetic pesticides such as residues in food, environmental health related concerns, and pest resistance issues have sparked a renewed interest in the development of botanical insecticides.

Using plant oils to kill bugs may sound like hocus pocus, but nature is smarter than you might think. Plants have evolved over time by producing compounds to protect themselves from insects, mites, and diseases. Some plants produce particularly high amounts and/or particularly potent compounds. These essential oils have been studied and used since ancient times for their medicinal and other beneficial properties. The essential oils are obtained by grinding the plants and steam-distilling or cold-pressing them to extract the oil. The oils may then be further processed for purification.

The botanical oils that exhibit insecticidal or deterrent properties often contain numerous active compounds. For example, rosemary oil contains three active components in significant concentrations and numerous other components in lower concentrations. Combining the right botanicals in the right proportions with the right inert ingredients is a complex process to perform effectively. At Rockwell Labs, we have taken the time to research and understand the science underlying the observed effects of natural plant oils. Combining that knowledge with modern formulation chemistry has allowed us to offer the most effective and innovative range of EPA minimum-risk 25(b) botanical pesticides available on the market today.

Botanical Oil Compounds & Modes of Action

There are many ways to kill an insect. Many synthetic pesticides are neurotoxins, and there are several different modes of action for different chemicals within the neurotoxin family. Others, like IGRs, affect the cuticle formation or the endocrine system. Botanical compounds, in many cases, have similar modes of action to synthetic pesticides. Some botanical actives block tyramine or octopamine which is basically insect adrenaline. Others affect neurotransmitters in various ways such as:

  • GABA receptor antagonists
  • Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (responsible for the fast action of some botanicals)
  • Effects on transient receptor potential

These multiple modes of action from the various compounds in the botanical oils gives botanical insecticides an advantage against insect species with acquired resistance to common synthetic pesticide classes, such as bed bugs, roaches, and flies.

What to Look For in a Botanical Insecticide

  • Active Ingredients with Multiple Plants Oils By using multiple plant oils in the actives for our botanical products (and their various modes-of-action), Rockwell has learned that it enhances the overall efficacy of our EcoVia products against the targeted pests listed on their respective labels.
  • Total Percentage of Active Ingredients – Rockwell specifically formulates our EcoVia products with higher levels of plant oil actives (compared to most competitive botanical products) to allow for lower use rates for PMPs and lower application costs. It also means fewer products a PMP has to buy and less space needed on their trucks.
  • Compare Application Costs vs. Product Costs – Even though EcoVia product costs may be higher than competitive botanical products, the higher percentages of plant oil active ingredients in EcoVia products translate into very low use rates. For example, the use rate for treating mosquitoes and ticks using EcoVia MT is .33 oz per gallon while the general pest and mosquito granule application rate using EcoVia G is 1 lb per 1000 sq ft. This actually provides PMPs significant savings when comparing per application costs.

EcoVia Botanicals: A Comprehensive Range of Natural Insecticides That Provide 10 Key Benefits to PMPs

The EcoVia line of research-based products from Rockwell are the most advanced, natural FIFRA 25(b) exempt botanical insecticide formulations on the market today. EcoVia botanicals offer specific advantages over conventional synthetic insecticides for certain applications. These advantages extend far beyond simply the green or natural status of the products. Here are the 10 key benefits EcoVia botanicals provide PMPs:

  1. EcoVia botanicals are fast-acting – Certain botanical oil components have modes of action that are extremely fast, causing immediate paralysis and rapid death in most pests. When properly combined and formulated, and applied correctly, botanical pesticides are often faster-acting than synthetic pyrethroids.
  2. EcoVia botanicals provide true repellency – Many botanical components take effect in the vapor phase and are classified as true repellents. This means that pests that come into their vicinity will immediately be repelled by the vapors. And they will stay far away from the area. In contrast, synthetic pyrethroids are known as excito-repellents, which means the pests have to physically contact the treated surface, and then an irritant effect can cause them to behave erratically. Maybe then they’ll be repelled.
  3. EcoVia botanicals are excellent flushing agents – The fast-action and vapor-phase repellency of EcoVia botanical pesticides make them excellent flushing agents. This can be helpful for numerous applications, whether it’s flushing out cockroaches from a wall void, quickly ridding a yard of mosquitoes, or removing overwintering pests from the side of a structure.
  4. EcoVia botanicals can act as fumigants – The vapor-phase activity of EcoVia pesticides causes them to have a fumigation effect in enclosed spaces. Whether it’s for small flies in a drain, or pests in an electrical box, the vapor action will quickly kill, flush, and repel pests from the treated area.
  5. EcoVia botanicals are excellent tools for resistance management – Each unique EcoVia formula consists of multiple botanical oils, and each natural plant oil, in turn, contains several active components, often with different modes of action. This diversity of active ingredients and modes of action, when properly combined, gives EcoVia formulations an advantage against species that have acquired resistance to common synthetic pesticides such as bed bugs, roaches, and flies.
  6. EcoVia botanicals offer minimal threat to pollinators – EcoVia botanicals don’t accumulate in plants or in the environment, so aside from direct application, their threat to pollinators is minimal. Also, the vapor-phase action tends to repel pollinators away from treated plants while the pesticide treatment is still active.
  7. EcoVia botanicals don’t have label restrictions related to impervious surfaces – Since EcoVia botanicals don’t accumulate in ground water, they can be broadly sprayed on impervious surfaces when and where necessary, unlike pyrethroids. Whether it’s for a dumpster and pad behind a restaurant, or the side of a structure for overwintering pests, EcoVia provides treatment options with minimal use site restrictions.
  8. EcoVia botanicals have no water set-back restrictions and can be used near and over water – With dramatically lower fish toxicity compared to pyrethroids and other, much broader-label pesticides, EcoVia botanicals can be safely used on, near, and over water. For example, they can be sprayed up to the water’s edge, applied to boat docks for spider control, fogged over water for mosquitoes, or used on properties with ornamental water features, all with reduced risk.
  9. EcoVia botanicals don’t require notification in most states – While many states require notification before treatment on certain properties such as schools, most states exempt minimum risk 25(b) pesticides (such as EcoVia products) from these requirements. This allows inspection and treatment to be completed in a single visit! Be sure to check your state’s specific regulations.
  10. EcoVia botanicals are the most advanced natural pesticide formulations available – Whatever your reason for choosing a botanical pesticide, whether for the fast-action, for the multiple modes-of-action, for the lack of label restrictions, or simply for the green status of the products, you can rest assured that EcoVia pesticides represent the most-advanced and most-tested 25(b) exempt formulations on the market today.

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