A Common Pesticide is Banned for Home Use

A Common Pesticide is Banned for Home Use

Part of Ep. 803 Gourds, Ponds and Herbs

Join IPM Outreach Specialist Karen Delahaut and learn why the EPA banned lorsban or dursban for home use.

Premiere date: Aug 26, 2000

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
If you're in the habit of using any of these products, be aware, some major changes are coming. This is Karen Delahaut, and she's the IPM Outreach Specialist for the University of Wisconsin- Extension. Karen, what's changing? What's going to happen to these?

Karen:
Well, Shelley, all these products contain the insecticide commonly known as lorsban or dursban. And recently the EPA has canceled the use of this insecticide.

Shelley:
Who is most likely to be using these products?

Karen:
Everybody uses these products. On a commercial scale, apple growers use it. Commercial vegetable growers use it to control cabbage and onion maggots. Corn growers use it for corn rootworm control. Structural pest control people use it for termite control and carpenter ants. And we've got an example of carpenter ant damage right here.

Shelley:
These deep gouges?

Karen:
Yeah, those little ants.

Shelley:
Wow. I can see wanting to have something to control those, then.

Karen:
And there really isn't a very effective alternative to dursban for carpenter ant or termite control.

Shelley:
What about in my own backyard?

Karen:
In your backyard, sure, you can use it as wasp and hornet sprays. You can also use it on turf to control insects such as webworm, cutworm, armyworm and for trees and shrubs using it to control borer insects, such as birch borer, linden borer, ash borer and viburnum borer.

Shelley:
I know birch borer can be a problem. That's more in the south part of Wisconsin.

Karen:
Yes, birch borer can actually occur anywhere in Wisconsin, but in the southern part of the state, the trees are just a little bit outside of their native range and they're stressed more. And it's the stressed plant that attracts the birch borer.

Shelley:
So, it really sounds like this could be everywhere. Everyone could be using this for a number of insects.

Karen:
That's correct.

Shelley:
Then why is it being banned?

Karen:
It's being banned for health reasons. This is a type of insecticide called an organo-phosphate. And organo-phosphates kill insects because they're nerve toxins or nerve poisons. However, because insects are technically animals, the same effects can happen to other animals, including humans.

Shelley:
So, I'd be worried about my pets, too, and kids.

Karen:
Yes, you need to be worried about pets and kids, as well. And it's probably most serious implications would be for pregnant women or children, because of the developing nervous system. And with children, they're going to be exposed to a lot of it, just being in landscape areas, parks and yards and things like that.

Shelley:
So, the ban means it's going to be banned immediately?

Karen:
No, actually, it hasn't been banned, it's been canceled.

Shelley:
There's a difference?

Karen:
Yes, there is a difference. Banned means it prohibited from use, whereas canceled means that you can continue to use what you have in your garage, if you want to.

Shelley:
But we won't be able to buy it soon.

Karen:
Right. After next year, you won't be able to buy it. But you can continue to use what you have, as long as you use it according to the label directions on the container you own.

Shelley:
It sounds like if it's being canceled for health reasons, I really don't want to be using it.

Karen:
Well, that's your choice. There really aren't any alternatives for borer control, and you may choose to continue to use it just for that. But if you don't feel comfortable, you can dispose of it.

Shelley:
How do I do that safely?

Karen:
Well, don't dump it down the drain or the storm sewer, Shelley. Take it to your local clean sweep site and they'll take care of it for you.

Shelley:
What do I do instead, then, for the insect pests I have?

Karen:
Start an IPM plan for the home. That'll work great for insects, as well as diseases. With the IPM plan, you do things like rotate crops in the vegetable gardens. You're not planting the same thing in the same place all the time. Also, sanitation is good. Get rid of those infected or infested plant parts at the end of the season so they don't have stuff to spread next year. And more importantly, when you're designing a landscape and just starting out, put the right plant in the right place.

Shelley:
So, don't put the full sun plant in the dense shade.

Karen:
Correct.

Shelley:
Some basic good gardening techniques, which is really what IPM, Integrated Pest Management, is.

Karen:
Yes.

Shelley:
Okay, some good advice. Thanks, Karen. Remember, there are some other pesticides out there that work on these insects. However, they are also being looked at very closely by the EPA.

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