Permethrin and pyrethrum insecticides are quite similar. It’s no coincidence that their names sound alike; they have similar qualities and chemical composition. They both kill unwanted insects. However, they are not the same thing. So, let’s explore the topic of permethrin versus pyrethrum to see what makes them so different from each other and to find out which one is better for whatever your intended use may be.
Permethrin is a synthetic chemical used in insecticides to kill mosquitoes and other insects. It is also used in medications that treat scabies and lice. In animals, it is used to eradicate lice and other parasites which may be in their fur or, even worse, living inside of them.
Permethrin insecticides are available in creams, lotions, sprays, powders, flea collars, and treated clothing. Even though this pesticide can be found in medications and is meant to be applied to the skin, it can cause skin irritation. However, it is not dangerous or unsafe for adults or children over two months of age. Permethrin is, however, highly toxic to aquatic life (e.g., fish, frogs).
Permethrin insecticides should be used only when necessary and in the correct amounts, as is true for all medications and pesticides.
If permethrin is used according to the safety instructions, side effects are unlikely.
Permethrin is also utilized in agriculture where it is used to fight the pests that may infest various different crops. But, as it is a wide spectrum insecticide that is intended to kill various kinds of pests, it also kills beneficial insects such as honey bees. It can also be harmful to aquatic life. Permethrin is used to fight insect pests, such as ticks, which may infect other animals by being applied to the rodent populations which may house these insects. In addition, permethrin is used in tropical areas as a mosquito prevention measure to suppress deadly mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria. By lining our bedding and clothing with this chemical, we can repel mosquitos and other insects that transmit different illnesses and infections.
Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide found within a genus of flowers commonly called chrysanthemums. As it is naturally accessible, pyrethrum has been used for centuries. Moreover, because pyrethrum is a natural plant extract, pyrethrum insecticide is non-synthetic and also can be used on certified organic farms.
Chrysanthemum flowers are dried and crushed so that the active components, called pyrethrin, can be extracted and the insecticide acquired. Nowadays, pyrethrum is combined with other chemicals for greater effectiveness and can be found in many household pest control products.
Even though pyrethrum is natural, pyrethrum insecticides are still dangerous for some animals, especially aquatic animals. Therefore, pyrethrum should be handled with the same amount of caution as synthetic pesticides because its toxic effects are quite similar to those of synthetic pesticides.
People who suffer an over-exposure to pyrethrum can experience side effects such as itchy skin, a runny nose, and even asthma symptoms. People who are sensitive and have allergies should be extra careful around chrysanthemums and pesticides manufactured from them, as they can cause health issues.
The differences between permethrin and pyrethrum
Permethrin and other pyrethroid insecticides are a modified form of pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is the raw, natural form of this insecticide while pyrethroids were created to substitute this strong natural insecticide and to be more stable. Pyrethrum breaks down rapidly in water or when exposed to light. Pyrethroids are more resilient. As an insecticide, pyrethroids are still deadly to bees, even in very small amounts. Therefore, take caution when using them in garden areas or other places frequented by bees.
The main difference between these two insecticides is that permethrin is a synthetic chemical made in laboratories while pyrethrum is a completely natural substance acquired from chrysanthemums.
The effects of both pesticides are quite similar, but, as permethrin is synthetic, it is more stable and effective when exposed to sunlight. For this reason, synthetic permethrin is used in agriculture more often than pyrethrum to protect crops from unwanted insects. Farmers need more stable pesticides which can withstand exposure to sunlight on those sunny, hot summer days.
Both pyrethrum and permethrin have low toxicity to mammals and birds. However, cats can be particularly sensitive to them due to their inability to quickly break them down.
Altogether, the main difference between permethrin and pyrethrum is the way they are produced. One comes from flowers while the other is synthetically manufactured in laboratories and persists longer in the environment.