AgSense: Alternative insecticide treatments exist

Temik, an insecticide whose active ingredient is aldicarb, is used mainly on cotton, peanut and potato crops

in our area to control early season pests (Thrips and nematodes). Temik is now owned and manufactured by Bayer CropScience, and was formerly owned and produced by Union Carbide which will be phased out by 2018. It is a granular insecticide with high levels of dermal toxicity.

The main disadvantage of Temik is its high level of solubility that restricts its use in areas where the water table is close to the surface. In August, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the insecticide Temik will be phased out. According to the EPA, Temik does not meet the food safety standards and the recent report showed high risk mainly to infants and children.

According to the EPA memo, the Temik residue is high in citrus, potatoes and water. In infants the residue of Temik can be as high as 800 percent while in children ages 1 to 5, they can ingest 300 percent more than the level of concern.

High exposure of Temik results in diarrhea and vomiting, and adverse effects of nervous system inhibits an enzyme that regulates the control of messages to the nerves. Although not carcinogenic, there are reports of high rates of colon cancer with pesticide applicators who are exposed to high levels. The “lock and load” option to apply Temik has reduced the contact with humans and has been safer to apply.

Temik, which is a carbamate insecticide, has been in the market for the past 40 years and provided farmers with an excellent benefit, mainly in the control of pests, and has been a “wonder drug” to most of the growers. Although it is applied on large number of crops like citrus, potatoes, dry beans, peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, sugar beets and cotton.

Bayer CropScience, is the sole manufacturer in the United States and agreed to the new EPA regulation and said that its distribution will end in December 2017 and all use must end by December 2018. The use of Temik will be banned in citrus and potatoes by December 2011. In other crops like cotton, peanut and soybeans, there will be a change in labeling and care will be taken to protect groundwater near the crops.

At present, there are seed treatments like Cruiser, a Syngenta product which is a systemic insecticide and belongs to subclass neonicotinoids. It has a couple of advantages such as replacing planter box, in-furrow and foliar insecticide application for controlling early season insects. Cruiser is safe as there is minimum contact with humans. It is an alternative to Temik in controlling sucking pests at planting. It is showing promising results on cotton at planting to get crops to a healthy and vigorous initial growth but does not have a long-lasting effect after planting compared to Temik.

Naveen Puppala is a peanut breeder with the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center at Clovis. Contact him at 575-985-2292 or via e-mail:

npuppala@ad.nmsu.edu