Insect growth regulators are chemicals that use an insect’s growth regulating hormones to alter the normal development of the insect. Some insect growth regulators act by affecting the reproductive cycle, the growth of the exoskeleton or by speeding up development to combat the insect. In this article we review the history of insect growth regulators and the implications of Insect Growth Regulators for the DIY Pest Controller.
Insects have exoskeletons. Normal insect development includes a new exoskeleton being formed inside the old exoskeleton and the old will eventually be shed. At that point, the “new skin” will swell and harden. The process is called molting. During molting, metamorphosis also takes place, which includes the change from larval stage to the adult stage. As with humans, hormones are responsible for controlling the phases of molting by acting on the epidermis, which is part of the exoskeleton.
IGR’s have three different ways to alter the development process:
Some of them work by affecting the chitin, a carbohydrate that is an important structural component of the insect’s exoskeleton. If our insect is treated with one of these compounds, it will grow normally until it is time to molt. Then, during the molting process, the exoskeleton is not properly formed the insect dies. Synthesis inhibitors can also kill eggs by disrupting the normal embryo development.
Juvenile hormone analogs can cause the insect to produce an extra larvae stage instead of molting, or larval-pupal intermediates. They can also affect eggs development. They can cause the insect to not be able to reproduce, or dormancy before the onset of winter.
Anti-juvenile hormone compounds can stop the insect by producing normal hormones. The insect then molts into an adult before it is time, and the adult insect is then non functional.
All of these factors offer benefit to the DIY pest controller, by minimizing recurrence of breeding and multiplying pests. Therefore, minimal applications are necessary, since pests are unable to develop into reproductive adults. IGR’s are now easily obtainable to by the general public at pest control suppliers. It is important to review the target pest for the specific IGR and application recommendations.
Common pests that can be treated with IGR’s are fleas, ticks, ants, roaches, bedbugs, and other stored product pests.
Insect growth regulators can be found in such name brand pest control products as Gentrol, Precor, Petcor, Ultracide, and Precor 2000. The benefit of adding an insect growth regulator to your Integrated Pest Management practice is that you add an extra layer of protection, one that is specific to that insects’ life cycle.
When a DIY pest controller is reviewing available pest control methods, be sure to check with your local pest control supplier about the availability of IGR’s and their targeted pests.