Common Chemicals Used in Pest Control

Common Chemicals Used in Pest Control

Pest control is faced with some challenges as some pests developed resistance to some pesticides over time. Knowledge of the chemical content in pesticides and the specific parasites that they fight effectively is essential.

This article discusses some of the common chemicals used in pest control in Australia. It also provides information on the specific pests that certain chemicals deal with effectively.

All pesticides come with paperwork called Safety Data Sheets or SDS sheets. These sheets outline the dosages, safety precautions and procedures in case of an emergency.

Here are some of the chemicals we will discuss

  • Fipronyl
  • Hydramethylnon
  • Pyrethrins & Pyrethroids
  • Boric Acid
  • Carbamates

Fipronyl and the central nervous system

How it Works

Fipronyl belongs to the phenylpyrazole chemical family. It is a broad use insecticide that disables the central nervous system. As the insects interact during feeding, they infect each other, and eventually die.

In what form is the chemical most effective? Fipronyl comes used in liquid form, as granules, and as a powder. It is useful in the three types.

Apart from termites, this chemical also kills fleas, roaches, and it is not toxic to humans as long as you handled it with care.


This chemical works best when ingested. Its main targets are ants and cockroaches. How is it administered?
  • As bait
  • In the form of a gel
  • As granules

Hydramethylnon is designed to act slowly but ensuring a sure death to the pests. It operates on the premise that once the insect eats it, they will still be alive to go to their colonies where they will infect the rest.

Some of the most common ant baits in Australia contain Hydramethylnon as the active ingredient. An example is, “Protect-us Professional Granular Ant Bait.”

Though it is generally considered less toxic to mammals, this chemical is said to be carcinogenic (possibly) to humans, as demonstrated by a study on rats.

Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids

Both act in a similar manner. The only significant difference is its extraction. Whereas Pyrethrins are organic and derived from chrysanthemum flowers, pyrethroids manufactured synthetically.

They are both commonly used in many household pesticides. The reason is that their toxicity levels are considered mild compared to other chemicals.

Their main targets are flying insects like mosquitoes and houseflies. They can be used against fleas and cockroaches too.

An example of pesticides that contain Pyrethrins is PY Aerosol Insecticide Spray. Pyrethroids are components in products such as Cislin.

Boric Acid

Exists in the form of a white powder that is soluble in water to give a colorless liquid. Known as the biggest enemy of bedbugs and fleas. It can, however, eliminate mice, cockroaches, and termites.

If the white powder is mixed with sugar and then water is used to make it stick on a piece of cotton wool, it becomes a death trap for ants.

You can place it on their path. Once it holds on their bodies, it takes enough time to kill them, such that they spread it in their colonies.

It is highly contagious

Boric Acid can corrode human eyes and irritate the skin, and you should take care when handling it to avoid contact with those two areas. Ingesting you can also cause vomiting and diarrhea.


“Carbamates” is a general term for insecticides that are extracts of carbamic acids. They are common in pest control due to their widespread effectiveness. Carbamates destroy many varieties of pests.

Are They Toxic to Humans?

The other reason for their broad application is their low toxic levels, especially to mammals, humans included.

The only care that you should take is to make sure not to ingest them or that they do not come into contact with the skin.

Also, do not inhale them. Always have hazard masks when using pesticides with these chemicals.

How Do Carbamates Work?

They are used to kill aphids, ants, cockroaches, and tens of other harmful insects. They can be sprayed or baited on the insects, and once ingested, they affect the entire nervous system.

Respiratory systems of harmful insects become inhibited, leading to their death.

Pesticides such as aldicarb, sevin, and carbaryl contain Carbamates as their active ingredient.

Precautions to Take When Using All Pesticides

Precautions to Take When Using All Pesticides

Despite the observation that some pesticides are very toxic while others are less toxic, you must be cautious when dealing with them.

All the common chemicals used in pest control are not entirely friendly to humans too.
Always observe the following measures:

  • Read instructions on the pesticide pamphlet very carefully
  • Read the container label studiously
  • Apply common sense in taking precautions
  • Ensure vulnerable groups like children, the sick, pregnant women and the elderly are protected

These are measures that you must take to make sure that you understand the active chemical ingredients and that you follow all the steps in mixing and using pesticides. They also help protect others from possible hazards.


Although most compounds act on a broad spectrum, some act most effectively on particular pests. When shopping for a pest control agent, it is advisable to choose the most appropriate pesticide based on the active chemical ingredient and the targeted pest.