Natural Pesticides – Bad For Pests But Safe For Pets | Myth

Unless you are new to Runwritedig and my gardening articles, you know how I feel about organic gardening. Around here, I’m on a mission to grow and give away 100# of vegetables this season, from my little backyard garden. For years now, I have kept my commitment to keep my garden as organic as possible. I’ve been mostly successful in this endeavor, save for a couple years (2009 and 2010) where the snail population was completely out of control and I resorted to using snail pellets. Since the great snail migration of 2010- that shall forever be remembered as “Snailmageddon” – I’ve become very adept at using mulches, compost, vermicompost and cover crops as organic pest and weed control. I’ve even got a wildly successful home made spray that I use to repel insects from the garden.

On the ragged edge in the universe of organic pesticide/herbicide solutions, botanical “natural” pesticides are derived from poisonous plants and have actually been noted in some cases as more toxic than their synthetic cousins. It’s a myth that these botanical pesticides are not harmful to your pets. Indeed, they are.

Pyrethrum and Rotenone
Pyrethrum is made from the chrysanthemum flower and rotenone comes from legumes. At face value, they sound harmless, right? How could a flower and a bean be harmful to pets or humans? In fact, both of the oily derivatives are known to be toxic when ingested by small humans (aka, your kids) and their pets. As well, both are known toxins to aquatic organisms. As is the case with most pesticides, the product goes to work on the nervous system, causing paralysis and death. Pyrethrum is particularly lethal to your feline housemates… cats are highly susceptible. Rotenone is made from the oils left behind after grinding up the roots and stems of a certain legume, and causes stomach upset in humans.

One of the most toxic botanical pesticides is nicotine, derived from the tobacco plant. Imagine that.

Short and sweet, don’t be lulled or misled into believing that  botanical pesticides are 100% safe around your family and pets. Be just as vigilant against accidental contact as you would with commercially available pesticides.

This article is the fourteenth in a series of 26 consecutive articles, as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for the whole month of April. Tomorrow, I’ll post an article with a title that begins with the letter “O”… So goes the rest of the alphabet, through the end of the month.

In closing, I have a little challenge for you. Because the letters “Q” and “Z” pose a challenge of their own, send me a title idea beginning with those letters. If I choose to write your title, I’ll send you a small prize to show my appreciation.  Use the comments box below, or email your title to


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