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Rotenone for Garden Pests

    Pests Controlled

    • Gardeners commonly use insecticides containing rotenone on insects such as beetles and caterpillars that feed on the leaves of vegetable or fruit plants. Some of the more common insects it's used against include the cucumber beetle, Colorado potato beetle and the European corn borer. Some commercial insecticides combine rotenone with other botanical insecticides such as pryrethrum to expand the effective range of the product.


    • Mixing procedures and application rates vary with the commercial product. Always read and follow manufacturer's instructions when using insecticides. The death of the insects occurs about two to three days after the application. Rotenone loses all effectiveness after exposure to about three days of normal summer sunshine.


    • Rotenone is so highly effective against fish it is the chemical of choice for fish eradication projects. Obviously, inadvertent introduction of the chemical into waterways causes damage. The chemical is known to have a toxic and carcinogenic effect in rats during testing. Chronic exposure seems to affect the liver and kidneys in mammals. The chemical poses a hazard if inhaled or ingested. Use suitable precautions when handling the insecticide and avoid inhalation or ingestion.

    Environmental Factors

    • Wild birds exposed to rotenone will show signs of loss of physical control. This includes the inability to fly or walk due to lack of muscle coordination. Other signs include ruffled feathers or droopy wings. The symptoms pass about one week after exposure is eliminated. Rotenone does not harm bees, but it is often mixed with other insecticides that are harmful to this beneficial insect.

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