Pest Control: Bifen Granules, Bifenthrin, and Pyrethrin Explained

Insects, pests and rodent control is critical in protecting your home the health of your family.There are many products out there to control insects. Some are great, some are good and some simply don’t work. This article will discuss a few of your choices with Pyrethoid insect control products.

Bifen Granules, Bifenthrin, and Pyrethrin

All three are commonly used insecticides for pest control, but they work through different mechanisms and have distinct characteristics. Let me explain how each of them works:

Bifen Granules

Bifen Granules is a brand name for an insecticide containing the active ingredient bifenthrin. Bifenthrin is a synthetic pyrethroid, which means it’s a man-made chemical that mimics the properties of naturally occurring pyrethrin compounds found in chrysanthemum flowers.

Bifenthrin acts as a neurotoxin, disrupting the nervous system of insects. When applied as granules, they are typically spread on the ground around the area to be protected, such as lawns, gardens, or perimeters of buildings. When insects come into contact with the treated granules or soil, the bifenthrin is absorbed through their exoskeletons or ingested when they groom themselves, leading to nerve function disruption and ultimately death.

Bifenthrin:

Bifenthrin is the active ingredient found in products like Bifen Granules. It belongs to the pyrethroid class of insecticides, which are widely used due to their effectiveness against a broad range of insects and relatively low toxicity to mammals.

Bifenthrin works by affecting the nervous system of insects. It interferes with sodium channels in their nerve cells, causing prolonged excitation and eventually paralysis. This disrupts the normal communication between nerve cells and leads to the death of the insect.

Pyrethrin:

Pyrethrin is a naturally occurring insecticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower. It has been used for centuries to control various pests. Pyrethrins target the nervous systems of insects in a similar manner to synthetic pyrethroids like bifenthrin.

This causes nerve cells to become excited and fire repeatedly, leading to paralysis and death. Pyrethrins are generally considered less toxic to humans and other mammals compared to many other insecticides, but they can still be harmful in high concentrations. They also tend to break down more quickly in the environment compared to some synthetic alternatives

One of the most effective ingredients is Bifenthrin.

It is a pyrethroid insecticide used primarily against insects by disrupting its nervous system.  Insect control products at Lowes with Bifen granules will usually have less than .20% concentration.  Higher concentrations of up to 7.0 % can be found through commercial dealers, though use restrictions may apply.  Bifen granules can remain effective for 2-4 months.

It is effective on Japanese Beetles, ants, termites, fleas, ticks, spiders, scorpions, roaches, millipedes, earwigs, grasshoppers, sod webworms, weevils, leaf miners, box elder bugs, bees, wasps, crickets, and ornamental pests. Although it is listed as a restricted use chemical in the United States, it is allowed to be sold for retail use, provided the product sold has a low concentration of bifen.

Products containing bifenthrin come in many forms, including sprays, granules, liquid and aerosols.  There are over 400 products containing bifenthrin for insect control available in the United States. Products containing bifenthrin include Talstar, Maxxthor, Capture, Brigade, Bifenthrine and Ortho Home Defense Max.

Bifenthrin is an insecticide in the pyrethroid family. Pyrethroids are manmade versions of pyrethrins, which come from chrysanthemum flowers.  About 200 years ago people in central Asia discovered that dried, crushed flowers of certain chrysanthemums were toxic to insects. Pyrethroids make up the majority of todays household insecticides.

In lower concentrations, they may also have insect repellent properties and are generally harmless to humans in low doses. Pyrethroids became popular as consumer insecticides in the 1990s as replacements for older pesticides, like Diazinon and Dursban that were phased out for environmental and human health reasons.

Pyrethrum, pyrethrins, pyrethroid terms are confusing.

The term pyrethroid is confusing to many because of its similarity to the name of the natural insecticide known as pyrethrum or pyrethrins. Pyrethrum is one of the oldest known natural organic insecticides and comes from the dried and crushed flowerheads of two species of Chrysanthemum flowers.

The only thing you must remember is that the name pyrethrins, refers to the original plant-derived mixture from the Chysanthemum flowers.  Many organic gardeners accept the use of pyrethrins on crops because it is organically derived, but there is nothing natural about pyrethroid insecticides.  If you wish to garden organically, don’t confuse pyrethroids with pyrethins.

  • Pyrethrum is the extract from the Chrysanthemum plant containing pyrethrins.  It is a natural organic insecticide.
  • Pyrethrins are natural insecticides produced by certain species of the chrysanthemum plant.
  • Pyrethroids are synthetic, or man-made, versions of pyrethrins. They kill insects by imitating pyrethrum, but do not come from flowers. The  popular insecticide, Cy Kick is made with Cyfluthrin, which is a synthetic pyrethroid
  • All Pyrethroids are synthetic chemical compounds similar to naturally occurring pyrethrum.  Bifen and bifenthrin are fourth generation pyrethoids.

All pyrethroids are synthetic compounds similar to naturally occurring pyrethrum.

How does it work?

Natural pyrethrins and chemical based pyrethroids are considered contact poisons which quickly penetrate the central nervous system of the insect. A few minutes after application, the insect cannot move or fly away. This  “knockdown dose” does not mean a killing dose.

The pyrethrins can be detoxified by enzymes in the insect. Thus, some pests will create an immunity and recover. Pyrethrins and pyrethroids have low toxicity to warm blooded animals but is a powerful insect repellent.

Bifenthrin interferes with the nervous system of insects when they eat or touch it. It’s more toxic to insects than it is to people because insects have lower body temperatures and smaller body size.  The shutdown of the insect nervous system and insect death are most often the consequences of insect exposure to pyrethrins.

It affects the central nervous systems of all types of flying and crawling insects, disrupting normal function, so that nervous impulses fail.

What I Use:  I have had great results with Ortho Home Defense and I also use Cy Kick.

Home Defense contains Bifen – Cy Kick contains Cyfluthrin

If you need a stronger insect killer or have problems like scorpions, black widow spiders or cockroaches try Cy Kick.  For common everyday pests like ants, spiders or flies, Home Defense will work great. You will probably need to find Cy Kick online with the best prices being on Amazon.

Read my article on Cy Kick here.

Bifen Granules and Liquid are the most common Pyrethoid insect control used today. Ortho Home Defense along with other products that contain Bifen will control:

Fire Ants, and Carpenter, Red Harvest, Pavement, Odorous, Pyramid, Argentine, Pharaoh, Black Turf, White-footed Ant, Crazy Ant, Little Black Ant, Small Honey Ant, Black Turf Ant, Lawn Ant, Cornfield Ant, Ghost Ant, Thief Ant, Acrobat Ant, Citronella Ant, Big-headed Ant, and Allegheny Mound Ant.

American Dog Ticks, Armyworms, Billbugs, Bristletail, Centipedes, Chiggers, Chinch Bugs, Crickets, including House Cricket, Common Short-tailed Cricket, Indies Short-tailed Cricket, Arizona Cricket, Tropical Cricket, Variable Field Cricket, Fall Field Cricket, Southeastern Field Cricket, Texas Field Cricket, Spring Field Cricket, Northern Wood Cricket, Western Striped Cricket, Eastern Striped Cricket, Sand Field Cricket, Vocal Field Cricket and Southern Wood Cricket.

Cutworms, including Black Cutworm, Bronzed Cutworm, Granulate Cutworm and Variegated Cutworm, Flea Beetle, Earwig, European Crane Fly Larvae, Firebrat, Fruit Fly, Grasshoppers, Greenbug, Ground Beetle, Lady Beetles, Asian Ladybeetle, Mealybug Ladybird, Leafhoppers, Lucerne Moth, Mealybugs, Millipedes, Mole Cricket, Mosquitoes, Pillbugs, Arizona Stripetail Scorpion, Yellow Ground Scorpion, California Common Scorpion, Northern Scorpion, Eastern Sand Scorpion, Maggots, Sowbugs.

Spiders, including Marbled Cellar Spider, Longbodied Cellar Spider, Shortbodied Cellar Spider, Thinlegged Wolf Spider, Burrowing Wolf Spider, and Pirate Wolf Spider, Springtails, Striped Grassworm, Ticks, Two-lined Spittle Bugs, Webworms, Sod Webworm, Grass Webworm,  Weevils and Wireworms.

Safety Precautions

Ingestion of pyrethroids may cause a sore throat, nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting almost immediately after ingestion. Other reported symptoms included increased oral secretions, ulcerations in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, head-ache, dizziness and fatigue.

Symptoms less frequently reported include blurred vision, heart palpitations and tightness in the chest.The U.S. EPA classified bifenthrin as a Category C, possible human carcinogen. Bifenthrin is not absorbed by foliage or translocated throughout plants. Bifenthrin is highly toxic to fish. 

Exposed pets may experience vomiting or diarrhea, reduced activity, twitching of the ear, paw flicking and increased drooling.

Here is more on Bifen from  The National Pesticide Information Center.

Spring and summer is the time of year people find themselves spending more time outdoors.  With an increase in temperatures, also come an increase in the insect population.  Insect and mosquito control can be as easy as applying a bifen insecticide. 

These insecticides are available in both granular and liquid form and can be used with one another for best control.  Mosquitoes prefer to hang out in cooler damp areas most of the day and are most active during evening and morning hours when temperatures are cooler.

The sprayable liquid form of bifenthrin can be applied to shrubs and lower tree limbs where mosquitoes prefer to hang out.  Underneath decks and other damp shaded areas are where bifen can be applied as a liquid or granule to reduce insects.

It’s important to note that while these insecticides can be effective in controlling pests, they should be used carefully and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Overuse or improper application can lead to unintended environmental consequences and potential harm to non-target organisms. If you’re considering using any of these products, I recommend consulting with a pest control professional or reading the product label thoroughly to ensure safe and effective use.

Always follow label instructions and take steps to avoid exposure. If any exposures occur, be sure to follow the First Aid instructions on the product label carefully.

By Victoria Stone

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