Pesticides are a crucial aspect of food crops and environmental horticulture. They not only can save crops from pests, but they can also prevent the spread of damaging pests- native and invasive. Unfortunately many pesticides can have a damaging effect to ecosystems and the organisms within. It is rarely a “black and white, good or bad” issue, however. Negative effects of pesticides and the likelihood of such effects happening can show a wide range of variation. For example, one pesticide can be harmless for terrestrial organisms but dangerous to aquatic organisms; or be harmless from acute exposure, but dangerous when the exposure persists over time (chronic). Even how a pesticide is applied can have varying impacts on the environment.

The table below lists many of commonly used pesticides for mites, thrips, aphids and scale & mealybug insects, accompanied by their efficacy against target pests and their potential risk to the environment. Both the efficacy and environmental risk data are represented on a scale. The pesticides are also split up by application and exposure type. The notes section is meant to inform the reader when there are specific differences that might not be representative of the whole (an example being when a pesticide is safe for most aquatic organisms but dangerous to a few). Missing data will be updated when there is accurate data available to make an informed risk assessment.


Dr. JC Chong, Mr. Dan Gilrein, Dr. Dave Smitley, and Ardea Consulting; Entomologist at Rutgers University, Matt Havers