In the Southeast, summer means one thing: bugs. If you've been outdoors much this summer, chances are you've been swarmed by all manner of pesky insects and irritating bites. While there are some effective do-it-yourself strategies you can use to keep bugs away from your yard and your pool, you may find yourself swarmed and eaten up anywhere else.
Luckily, there is a great solution: permethrin, which can be instrumental in keeping insects at bay. Applied to clothing or directly to the skin, it can form a protective shield that keeps bugs at bay so you can enjoy the summer in peace regardless of where you are.
So what is permethrin, and how does it work? Read on to find out more.
What is Permethrin?
Permethrin is a type of synthetic chemical known as a pyrethroid. The name "pyrethroid" is derived from Pyrethrum, a genus of Old World flowers in the chrysanthemum family. The natural chemical extracts inside these flowers act as a natural insect repellent and contact insecticide, and permethrin-based chemicals are specifically designed to replicate these effects.
First discovered in 1973, permethrin was notable for being a fast-acting and highly toxic against insects yet low in toxicity for mammals and birds, making it a safe alternative to other, potentially-harmful chemicals in use at the time. As older pesticides started getting phased out in the 1990s due to health and environmental concerns, permethrin quickly rose to prominence.
Permethrin is now listed on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.
Uses of Permethrin
While permethrin's effectiveness both at protecting crops and killing the parasites that prey on livestock made it a natural fit for agribusiness, it has also seen use in a wide range of industrial and domestic environments.
In the textile industry, permethrin is used to prevent insects like moths, beetles, and crickets from attacking and destroying fabric and woollen products. In aviation, permethrin-based products are used to disinfect aircraft against mosquitoes and other harmful insects. The product also sees wide use across industries as a general-purpose insect control method.
However, for most people, the best use of permethrin is as a personal shield against insects. By applying permethrin to clothing or directly to the skin as a topical lotion, you can spend a summer afternoon outdoors without fear of irritating and dangerous bug bites.
Permethrin on Insects
In addition to its other benefits, one of permethrin's key benefits is the breadth of pests it protects against. Some of the bugs permethrin is effective for repelling include:
- Head lice
- Bed Bugs
Environmental Concerns & Side Effects
While permethrin is incredibly effective at what it does, it is not without side effects.
One of permethrin's downsides is that it can be too effective; while it's great for killing and repelling pests like mosquitoes and ticks, it will also kill helpful insects such as honeybees. Likewise, while low in toxicity to humans, birds, and most pets, it is highly toxic to fish, and can be devastating to a fish population if applied directly to water.
While it is low in toxicity to humans, permethrin can nevertheless cause allergic reactions in some people. Common symptoms include mild burning sensation, stinging, redness, and itching, as well as skin rash, numbness, and a tingling sensation at the application area.
It should be noted that while allergic reactions are possible, they are uncommon, with most people observing no negative symptoms after exposure. Permethrin has also been shown to have no negative developmental or reproductive effects on pregnant women or their children.
While considerations must be taken prior to use, with a proper plan in place, permethrin represents a great way that eco-conscious homeowners can take back their yards without harming the surrounding environment.
For more information about how to keep your home safe and your family protected from mosquitoes and other pesky bugs this summer, check out our free informative guide, How to Keep Mosquitoes Out of Your Yard This Summer.