Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Origin of Insecticides

In browsing Scientific American magazine of February 2011, the following brief note appeared in the highlights of 150 years ago - February 1861.

Modern agriculture and horticulture does have a degree of reliance on both herbicides and insecticides, although some would say that is changing as biotechnology makes advances and GM crops advance.

Whether true or not, pyrethrin was one of the very earliest insecticides. And the snippet below provides some interesting thoughts from 150 years ago.

February 1861 - Scientific American Magazine

Pyrethrin Insecticides

“A vegetable powder, under the name of ‘Persian Insect Powder,’ has lately been introduced into the drug market, for the extermination of insects, vegetable parasites, &c.

Until recently, the botanical source of this powder has not been known, except to its maker. For a number of years it was erroneously considered to be a native of Persia, but it has been traced beyond question by Dr. Koch, as having its origin in the Caucasian provinces, and to the contused blossoms and flowers of Pyrethrum roseum and Pyrethrum carneum.

It is of a yellowish, gray color, perfectly odor­less, yet slightly irritating to the nostrils; at first almost tasteless, but afterwards leaving a burning sensation upon the tongue.

As its effects for the destruction of bugs, roaches, parasites on delicate plants, &c. have been fully established, and it being otherwise harmless, its introduction into general use would be of great importance to families and horticulturists.”

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