Derris, A Natural Insecticide

When I found out about Derris as a natural insecticide, an episode from the Simpsons came to mind. In the cartoon show, Homer goes fishing with his son Bart, on a canoe. His son, Bart becomes startled when he sees his father with dynamite. The father lights the dynamite and throws it into the lake. After the explosion, fish float to the top of the lake due to the shock of the explosion. Easy fishing, but more importantly, smart fishing. Derris is used in the same for many years now.

Derris is a climbing leguminous plant found in the south eastern parts of Asia and some Pacific Islands. Some Derris plants can also be found in South America. The roots contain rotenone, a strong natural insecticide. Rotenone from Derris plants can be found in the pea family, sucha as barbasco, cube, nekoe and timbo. Rotenone is not fatal to humans but is toxic enough for the respiratory system to react if inhaled enough. Rotenone has also been linked to nerve damage in humans, possibly even linked to Parkinson’s disease.

Rotenone form Derris plants are a strong natural insecticide and can be lethal to insects and even fish. Rotenone affects not only the stomach of an insect that may digest some of it, but also can transmit poison on contact. Derris has been used for years against fleas and lice, but is also effective against aphids, beetles and caterpillars. It is also used as a natural insecticide on cats and dogs, horses and rabbits. It is also safe to use on grain, fruits and vegetables.

Rotenone may take a few days to terminate insects, but the insects will die and feeding on the plants will end. Rotenone is biodegradable so with the presence of the sun and heat, the chemicals will break down in about a week. It also rapidly breaks down in soil and water. Rotenone, although widely used happens to be very safe natural insecticide. However, due to the possible link with Parkinson’s disease the EPA is looking into further safety levels for those using rotenone as a natural insecticide. The only warning that is more of a principle of safety is not to enter a treated area for about 12 hours after using rotenone.

Today Rotenone from the derris plants can be purchased as over the counter pesticides. It can be found in products like Devcol Liquid Derris and other various products. Most of the products that contain rotenone as a natural insecticide from the derris plants are marketed from outside of the United States of America. In those countries that do sell these pesticide products, they are used against insects like sawflies and slug sawflies that eat pears and roses. In those countries outside of the USA, rotenone is also used against maggots bagworms, cabbage worms, thrips, leaf hoppers, Japanese beetles, vegetable weevils and codling moths.

Derris as a natural insecticide is considered among many people to be a first choice in pest control. Maybe the next time you go fishing, you can use Derris to help catch fish. Dynamite is pretty much illegal. We can learn a lot from the Simpsons.