Neonicotinoids, A Brief History: Nicotine

argylesock says… Neonics are derived from nicotine. That makes sense now that Jonathan’s explained it here. Years ago, I had a friend who bred stick insects and who was always careful to put out his cigarette before handling his insects.

Living With Insects Blog

As I noted in a post yesterday, the neonicotinoid, Dinotefuran, has been implicated in a massive bumblebee kill in Oregon. How did Dinotefuran and other neonicotioids come into use?

Neonicotinoids are based on the natural insecticide, nicotine, which is produced by the tobacco plant. In addition to being a highly addictive neurostimulant in humans, nicotine is toxic to insects. An easy demonstration is to place a few fruit flies (Drosophila) into a container with “smokeless tobacco”. The fruit flies will soon be dead. The insecticidal properties of tobacco (due to nicotine) were well known to Native Americans who used a water infusion of tobacco to control insect pests in their crops.

Even though nicotine is a “natural” insecticide, most “organic” regulations prohibit the use of nicotine on organic produce. As an insecticide, nicotine is noted for high toxicity to humans and short residual.

Nicotine is sold in the United…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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