Permethrin vs. Pyrethrum Insecticides: What’s the Difference?

Permethrin vs. Pyrethrum difference

Permethrin and pyrethrum are insecticides with similar properties, so their similar names are no coincidence.

However, despite their commonalities, there are differences between each insecticide.

It is true that they both kill insects, but you need to understand what makes each one unique before making your purchase.

What follows are the definitions of each insecticide, how they are used, and what makes them different so you can make the best-informed decision as to which one to buy.

What is Permethrin?

Permethrin is a synthetic chemical that is primarily used to kill mosquitoes, but it does work on other insects as well.

Permethrin also kills lice and scabies in humans and especially animals where such creatures may live in their fur or worse, inside their skin.

You’ll find permethrin in several different forms from lotions and creams to sprays, powders, and even flea collars.

Clothing can be treated with permethrin as well. While the substance is used in products that come into contact with the skin, it can irritate the epidermal layers.

However, it is safe to use for adults and children over two months of age.

But keep permethrin away from aquatic creatures such as fish or frogs since it can kill them as well.

You’ll find this substance used in crops to kill unwanted pests. Plus, it is also quite effective in killing ticks.

But it also may destroy helpful insects such as honeybees. It is indiscriminate in terms of what insects will be damaged or killed. 

Mosquitoes are the primary pest that permethrin destroys, which is why it is applied to clothing, bedding, and netting in areas where malaria can be found.

Permethrin not only kills mosquitoes; it also repels them which keeps them away from humans.

Be sure to follow all instructions when using permethrin, whether as a medication or pesticide.

What is Pyrethrum?

Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide that is commonly found in chrysanthemums, a flower that has been used for centuries to kill insects.

Because it is an extract from a plant, pyrethrum is not synthetic and can be used on organic farms.

The flower is dried, crushed, and then the pyrethrin is extracted to create the insecticide.

While used in its pure form for centuries, pyrethrum is now combined with other organic properties to create a stronger insecticide.

You can find this substance in many household products designed to control or kill pests.

Despite the fact that the pyrethrum is natural, it is quite harmful to aquatic life and certain mammals.

This is why you should handle the product with care and keep it away from pets.

The toxic properties are such that they may cause considerable harm when ingested.

For humans, the pyrethrum may create mild side effects from overexposure such as a runny nose or itchy skin.

For those with asthma, it may trigger an attack or at least symptoms might appear.

If you have an allergy to chrysanthemums or pesticides that are made from them, then you might suffer from more serious health issues if exposed.

Permethrin vs Pyrethrum: The Difference?

The main difference is that pyrethrum is a natural form of insecticide that creates substances known as pyrethroids.

While permethrin and similar insecticides are modified or synthetic forms of pyrethrum.

In other words, the primary difference is that pyrethrum is organic while permethrin is a synthetic compound that is derived from pyrethrum or the pyrethroids that make up pyrethrum.

The pyrethrum will break down rapidly when exposed to light or immersed in water.

Pyrethroids are more resilient to both sunlight and water.

Keep in mind that even in small amounts pyrethroids are still dangerous to bees, so be careful when using them in your garden as bees are quite beneficial.

Both versions are low in toxicity levels, but cats are particularly sensitive to both substances because their digestive system cannot break them down quickly.

Permethrin or Pyrethrum: Which One is Better?

Both are quite good at what they do. If there is a better one, it will depend on how it is used.

Because the synthetic version, permethrin is synthetic and is combined with other substances, it is more durable and resistant to both sunlight and water.

This means that for farmers who are using pesticides on their crops, permethrin is substantially better compared to pyrethrum.

This is because the pyrethrum breaks down quickly in moist or sunny conditions.

Therefore, if you are going to apply a pesticide outdoors, then permethrin is the one to choose.

Pyrethrum can be used indoors away from moisture and sunlight, just keep it away from pets, especially cats.

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