Which type of lawn insect killer should you choose?
Lawn insect killers typically come in either liquid or granular form, but which is best for your needs?
The type of lawn insect killer you choose will depend on several critical factors, including:
The size of the area to be treated
The size of the area you wish to treat is a key thing to consider when deciding between liquid and granular lawn insect killers. If you need a product for ‘spot treatments’ (like anthills or other small areas with concentrated infestations), a granular product will probably be most suitable. If you want to treat your whole lawn, however, you may be better off using a liquid treatment.
This is because liquid treatments can be applied using a sprayer, making it easier to evenly distribute the product over large areas. Spreading granules over your whole lawn will be a lot more labor-intensive, and may even require the purchase of a spreader to ensure even coverage.
Foliage vs. lawn
If you want to treat a flat area, like turf or lawn, either type of product can be used with the same degree of effectiveness. If you want to tackle bugs in your flowerbeds, however, you will need to use a liquid product. This is because the product needs to coat the leaves and stems in order to work, and this effect can only be achieved by spraying.
Time and effort
If you want to treat your whole lawn, spraying a liquid insecticide is the quickest and most efficient way to get the job done. If you only require a spot treatment, however, then granules are going to be a lot less effort to use. This is because liquid insect lawn killers usually come in a concentrated formula that must be diluted with water, whereas granular products are often ready-to-use straight from the packet.
If you plan to use a lawn insect killer at home, your need to consider the safety implications of using toxic products around children, pets and other members of your household.
Some insecticidal products contain harsh chemicals that are potentially hazardous to people and other wildlife species. If you want to play it safe, opt for a natural product that uses essential oils as its active ingredients. It’s also worth bearing in mind that a liquid spill is harder to contain and clean up than granules.
What are the active ingredients in lawn insect killers?
Most insect lawn killers use potent insecticidal chemicals as their active ingredients. These may include one of more of the following:
- Imidacloprid: Imidacloprid works by targeting the insect’s nervous system, which kills them quickly. It is a type of systemic insecticide, meaning it is taken up from the soil by plants which then express the chemical in their leaves and stems. Any bugs that nibble on the treated plants will die. Imidacloprid has limited toxicity in mammals, birds, and fish, so it’s unlikely to harm your pets. However, it is highly toxic to bees, which are vital pollinators in your garden and beyond.
- Cyhalothrin: Cyhalothrin pesticides belong to a class of synthetic pesticides known as pyrethroids. These wide-spectrum insecticides kill on contact and will quickly eliminate every insect on your lawn (including bees). They are also highly toxic to mammals and aquatic critters and are also harmful to humans if swallowed or allowed to come into contact with the eyes or skin.
- Cyfluthrin: Cyfluthrins are another type of pyrethroid insecticide and, like cyhalothrins, will kill pretty much everything they come into contact with. This potent neurotoxin not only affects insects but is also poisonous to mammals, fish, and other aquatic creatures. It is a non-specific pesticide and quickly kills most types of bugs (again, this includes bees). In terms of human health, cyfluthrin is very dangerous if accidentally swallowed. It can also have negative effects if inhaled, or if it gets on the skin or in the eyes.
- Bifenthrin: Bifenthrin is also a neurotoxic pyrethroid insecticide that kills almost all bugs on contact. It is less toxic to mammals than it is to insects, but it can still cause skin, eye, gastrointestinal and respiratory irritation in humans. It may cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and drooling if swallowed by your pets, and is highly toxic to bees, fish and other aquatic creatures.
- Cypermethrin: Cypermethrins are kill-on-contact synthetic insecticides that will wipe out every insect on your lawn. These pyrethroids are also toxic to humans, household pets, fish and a variety of other wildlife species.
If you want to take a more environmentally friendly approach to lawn insect control, there are a few natural products that may work.
They are less potent than chemical insecticides, so you may not see the same total insect annihilation as you would when using pyrethroids. However, they are safer to use around people and other animals.
- Clove oil: Clove oil has been identified as an effective insect killer that is safer for use around people, animals, and bees. This 100% natural essential oil kills insects when it comes into contact with them, and may also continue to repel insects after application.
- Thyme oil: Thyme oil is another type of insecticidal essential oil that may make a safer alternative to chemical insect lawn killers. Thyme oil kills a wide variety of insect pests but is less dangerous for bees, humans, and other animal species.
Keep in mind!
Please note that although essential oils are a lot less harmful to humans, wildlife and domestic animals than chemical insecticides, they may still be toxic to cats.
Are insect lawn killers safe for home use?
Insect lawn killers can be safe for home use, provided they are used with caution. Several types of insecticide are toxic to humans, domestic animals, and wildlife, and should always be applied according to instructions. People and pets should not be allowed to enter treated areas until the product has dried completely.
If the product gets on your skin, wash the affected areas immediately and thoroughly.
If you get the product in your eyes, flush the affected eye(s) thoroughly with clean, tepid water for 15-20 minutes. If you wear contact lenses, remove them after 5 minutes and continue to rinse the eye. If irritation persists, contact your doctor.
If you inhale the product, move to an area with fresh air. If you feel unwell, contact a doctor.
If you swallow the product, contact poison control. Many insecticidal products are highly toxic if ingested by people or animals.
How to use lawn insect killers?
How to use granular lawn insect killers
When using any kind of insect killer, the first thing you should do is check the directions on the label to find out the proper application rate. Once you know how much to use, apply an even layer of the granules to the affected area.
If you plan to treat your whole lawn, you will probably need to use a lawn spreader to ensure even coverage.
Once you’re done spreading, sweep any runaway granules off your sidewalks, patios, and driveways.
Finally, you will need to water the treated area thoroughly. Moisture helps to release the active ingredients in the granules, which will then seep into the ground and work their magic on your lawn insects. Wait for the treated area to dry completely before letting people and pets back onto your lawn.
How to use liquid lawn insect killers
Liquid insect lawn killers often come in a concentrated formula which must be diluted with water before use.
Always read the instructions on the label thoroughly to make sure you get the ratio right.
You will also need to buy a separate sprayer for application.
Many liquid lawn sprays come in bottles that are designed to have hoses attached and are ready to use. In this case, you can skip the dilution part and follow these steps to use the product:
- Shake the bottle well.
- Attach your hose to the designated port.
- Turn on the water.
- Open the safety lock at the top of the bottle.
- Start spraying.
When spraying your liquid lawn insect killer, make sure to do so with an even, side-to-side sweeping motion.
Spray the treatment area until it is thoroughly wet, and walk backwards towards the faucet while you do this. When you’re done spraying, turn the water off. Turn the spray switch back on to relieve pressure in the bottle.
As with granular treatments, you must wait until the treated area is completely dry before allowing people and pets to re-enter.
Tips and tricks for safe and effective use
Choose a suitable time of day
The best time of day to apply a lawn insect killer treatment is in the early morning or evening. If you apply the product in the middle of the day, it may evaporate in the sun which will make the treatment far less effective.
Take weather conditions into consideration
As mentioned above, applying your treatment under the blazing midday sun will cause it to evaporate before it has a chance to take effect.
Another weather condition that can sabotage your lawn insect-killing efforts is heavy rainfall, which will wash away the product before it can work. Therefore, the best time to apply a lawn insect killer is right after a heavy rainfall.
Mow the lawn first
Cutting the grass on your lawn before you apply your insect killer will give pest insects fewer places to hide. This ensures maximum contact of the product with your target pests and, therefore, more effective treatment.
Mowing the lawn before you apply your pesticide will also help to displace bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and other beneficial insect species so they aren’t harmed by the treatment.
Keep people and pets out of recently treated areas
Many insect lawn killers contain ingredients that are toxic to humans and animals, and which may cause skin and eye irritation. Always keep people and pets out of treated areas until the product has had a chance to dry.
Insect lawn killers can be a highly effective way to rid your yard of fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other nuisance pests this summer. Many contain potent insecticidal agents that kill bugs on contact and have lasting repellent effects, helping to protect you and your pets from potentially harmful bites and stings. Ridding your garden of nuisance bugs can also help to keep them out of your house, especially if you have a cat or dog that may carry fleas inside.
Insect lawn killers typically come in either liquid or granular form, and the type you choose will depend on the size of the area you need to treat. Liquid lawn insect killers are generally more suitable for whole lawn treatment, while granular products are better for spot applications. Chemical treatments dominate the market and kill a wide variety of insect species on contact. Unfortunately, they are often also highly toxic to non-target species like bees, fish, and mammals. While effective natural products do exist, they may not work quite as effectively and most contain essential oils, which may be harmful to cats.
Whichever type of lawn insect killer you choose, it’s important to always follow the product instructions to the letter. Always use the product as directed, avoid contact with the skin and eyes, and keep people and pets off your lawn until the treatment is complete.