What is Pyrethrin?

Finding the right insecticide for your home isn’t easy. With so many options to choose from, it’s important to know what kind of product you’re dealing with and whether or not it’s safe. 

All insecticides are either organic or synthetic mixtures made to prevent or kill unwanted pests, but they aren’t all created equal. 

There are three different types of insecticides, including:

  • Systemic insecticides- this type of insecticide, effectively reaches every part of the plant it is sprayed on. Systemic insecticides are soluble, meaning they can be dissolved easily. 
  • Contact insecticides- are lethal insecticides that affect insects upon direct contact. Contact insecticides can be organic, inorganic, or natural. 
  • Ingested insecticides- this type of insecticide lays directly on the plant it’s sprayed on. Ingested insecticides affect pests after they consume part of the plant or the insecticide directly. 

Pyrethrin, also known as pyrethrum, is a compound made from the chrysanthemum plant. Chrysanthemum contains pyrethrin, a highly-effective contact insecticide that alters the nervous system of insects, including flies, ants, and mosquitoes.

Often touted as “non-toxic,” pyrethrin can be deadly to both humans and pets. That’s why we’ve dedicated our resources here at Mosquito Magician to producing a safe, natural, and effective mosquito killer and repellent, without pyrethrin, to get rid of mosquitoes for good. 

Here’s how pyrethrin works and why you should consider a natural alternative.

How Does Pyrethrin Work? 

Pyrethrin kills instantly upon contact by disrupting the insect’s nervous systems. This results in paralysis, which eventually leads to death.

How is Pyrethrin Used? 

Pyrethrin is used to make a potent insecticide. Most often, pyrethrin is mixed with other ingredients to make it more effective, but it can be used on its own to spot spray your yard. A pyrethrin concentrate can be used to spray heavily-infested plants, however, you shouldn’t be showering your entire backyard with it.

What Does Pyrethrin Kill? 

Pyrethrin is considered extremely toxic to most insects, including ants, flies, moths, fleas, and mosquitoes. One downside to spraying pyrethrin is that it’s toxic to insects that pollinate your yard, like bees and ladybugs. Pyrethrins are also toxic to pets, fish, and other aquatic animals. 

Why is Pyrethrin Used in Organic Gardening?

Pyrethrin is biodegradable, which makes it safe for growing food. Most pyrethrin products will break down in sunlight, within a couple of days, and will not remain in the soil or ground. Pyrethrin is also commonly claimed to be “non-toxic” as it shouldn’t interfere with your daily life, however heavy exposure to the chemical can be deadly.

What is Pyrethrin Used In?

Pyrethrin is an ingredient in over 3,500 products, many of which are used in and around households, on pets, and for mosquito control. According to the Journal of Pesticide Reform, pyrethrins are the most frequently used home and garden insecticides in the U.S.

Products that contain pyrethrin include:

  • Foggers (bug bombs)
  • Bug sprays
  • Pet shampoo
  • Flea medication for dogs
  • Lice shampoo

Even though you might not realize it, washing your dog with pet shampoo containing pyrethrin or spraying a small portion of your yard with insecticide is enough to expose you to this harmful chemical. 

How is Pyrethrin Produced?

Pyrethrin is a compound of six ingredients that are toxic to insects. Once pyrethrin is extracted from the chrysanthemum plant, it is manufactured into an insecticide. Pyrethrin can also be combined with what is called a synergist, which helps make the ingredient more effective. The synergist will inhibit an enzyme that insects use to detoxify the pyrethrin. Common synergists include piperonyl butoxide and MGK-264

What’s the Difference between Pyrethrin and Pyrethroids? 

Pyrethrin is, as stated, a compound produced from the chrysanthemum flower. Pyrethrin is a botanical insecticide used to alter an insect’s nervous system. Pyrethroids are made from the chemical structure of pyrethrin but are considered a synthetic chemical insecticide. In short, pyrethroids are an enhanced form of pyrethrin, because they’ve been modified to increase their stability in sunlight so they can be used for longer.

Is Pyrethrin Safe for Humans? 

Pyrethrin is mildly toxic to humans. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency states that “low-toxicity” products like pyrethrin must have a “caution” label, but can be used sparingly.

Direct contact with pyrethrin can cause skin irritation. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, it can also cause numbness or tingling at the site of contact.

Pyrethrin is most toxic, to humans, when it’s inhaled or ingested. Symptoms of pyrethrin inhalation include headaches, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. Prolonged exposure to household insecticides, like pyrethrin, can trigger life-threatening allergic reactions including heart failure and severe asthma.

According to the National Environmental Engineering Institute, pyrethrins disrupt the normal functioning of sex hormones. Pyrethrins are also classified as “likely to be human carcinogens” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because they have been known to cause thyroid tumors. Children are at great risk of health problems if exposed to pyrethrins. 

Safe to say, Pyrethrin doesn’t seem like a pesticide you would want to spray in your yard where you and your children or pets will be hanging out. 

Is Pyrethrin Safe for Pets?

Though pyrethrins are said to be non-toxic to humans and pets, there are reports of health issues that are believed to be linked to the compound.

Is Pyrethrin Safe for Dogs?

Pyrethrin is a common ingredient used to treat tick and flea infestations in dogs. While dogs can handle a small amount of pyrethrin, similar to humans, they should not be exposed to it for extended periods. Common symptoms of pyrethrin-related poisoning in dogs include vomiting, rapid breathing, and distress.

There are many reported cases of pets becoming ill and even dying from causes linked to pyrethrins

Mosquito bites pose a threat to dogs, so you want to make sure you properly control your yard’s mosquito population. However, Pyrethrins aren’t the safest option. A natural, non-toxic mosquito repellent like Mosquito Magician’s concentrate is a safer, healthier choice. 

Is Pyrethrin Safe for Cats?

Unlike dogs, pyrethrin is extremely toxic to cats. Cats are unable to metabolize pyrethrin and may show symptoms such as vomiting, disorientation, and seizures if exposed to the chemical. 

Pyrethrins are also toxic to fish and other aquatic animals, so misting systems must never have spray capable of drifting onto ponds, especially if the pond contains Koi fish. 

A Natural Mosquito Repellent Alternative

Sprinkler Magician has developed an integrated pest control system that does not use pyrethrins or pyrethroids. Our Mosquito Magician concentrate is natural, safe, and effective. 

We’ve researched all the natural compounds that have been used for centuries (sometimes much longer!) These are all from the family of essential oils. Instead of picking one like many of our “natural” competitors, we use no less than 6 different oils including:

  • Lemongrass
  • Cedar
  • Rosemary
  • Geraniol
  • Garlic

This results in an extremely potent concentrate that eliminates mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, Fire Ants, Gnats, No-See-Ums, and a dozen or so more pesky biting insects. These ingredients are also completely safe for humans, pets, and the environment so that you can effectively get rid of mosquitoes at home. 

The Mosquito Magician concentrate can be applied with anything from a $10 hose sprayer, pump up sprayers, battery sprayers to our automated system that injects the concentrate into your sprinkler system to deliver it all around your property. 

Are you ready to switch to a safe, natural mosquito repellent alternative?