Compendium of Pesticide Common Names

Glossary


This glossary is only intended to provide definitions or explanations of terms that are used in the Compendium. It is not intended to define or explain every technical term that is used in association with pesticides or pest control.

acaricide
A pesticide that is used to kill mites and ticks, or to disrupt their growth or development.

active ingredient
The chemical in a pesticide formulation that kills or otherwise controls a pest or a weed. The remainder of a formulated pesticide is one or more inert ingredients.

algicide
A pesticide that is used to kill or inhibit algae.

antibiotic pesticide
An active ingredient that is isolated from or produced by a microorganism (e.g. a bacterium or a fungus), or a related chemical that is produced artificially.

antifeedant
A pesticide that prevents an insect or other pest from feeding.

approval
See registration

attractant
A chemical that lures pests to a trap, thereby removing them from crops, animals or stored products.

avicide
A pesticide that is used to kill birds.

bacterial insecticide
An insecticide in which the active ingredient is a living bacterium that infects an insect pest and then kills or inhibits it. A type of microbial pesticide. Bacterial insecticides are not included in the Compendium.

bactericide
A pesticide that is used to kill or inhibit bacteria in plants or soil.
(Chemicals that kill bacteria for medical or veterinary applications are termed “antibacterial agents”; they are classed as pharmaceuticals and so are not included in the Compendium.)

biochemical
A chemical that occurs naturally in an organism, or an identical substance that has been made artificially.

biochemical pesticide
A naturally-occurring substance that controls pests by a mechanism other than toxicity. Examples include sex pheromones that are used as mating disrupters for insect pests, and plant extracts that are used as attractants to lure insect pests to traps or that are used as insect repellents.

bird repellent
A chemical that deters birds from approaching or feeding on crops or stored products.

brand name
A name used by a pesticide manufacturer or supplier for a formulation, and the most prominent name on product labels and in advertisements. Often a registered trade mark.

chemosterilant
A chemical that renders an insect infertile and thus prevents it from reproducing. Some insects that mate only once can be controlled or eradicated by releasing huge numbers of sterilised insects.

common name
A relatively short name for a pesticide, approved by either an international body such as ISO (International Organization for Standardization) or by a national body such as ANSI (American National Standards Institute) or BSI (British Standards Institution).

defoliant
A plant growth regulator that causes the leaves or other foliage to drop from a plant, usually to facilitate harvest.

desiccant
An insecticide that kills insect pests by damaging their cuticle thus causing them to dehydrate, or a herbicide that promotes the drying of living plant tissues, such as unwanted plant tops.

formulation
A pesticide as sold to personal and professional end users, usually a mixture of an active ingredient and several inert ingredients, and with a prominently-displayed brand name on its label.

fumigant
A pesticide that is (or produces) a gas or vapour that is used to kill pests (including weeds) in soil, stored products or buildings.

fungicide
A pesticide that is used to kill fungi in plants, stored products or soil, or to inhibit their development.
(Chemicals that kill fungi for medical or veterinary applications are termed “antifungal agents”; they are classed as pharmaceuticals and so are not included in the Compendium.)

herbicide
A pesticide that is used to kill plants, or to inhibit their growth or development. Also known as weedkillers.

herbicide safener
A chemical that protects crops from injury by herbicides, but does not prevent the herbicide from killing weeds.

inert ingredient
A substance that is not an active ingredient and that is included in a formulation for reasons other than pesticidal activity. Functions of inert ingredients include diluting the pesticide, making it safer, making it more effective, making it easier to measure and mix, making it easier to apply, and making it more convenient to handle.
Despite being called “inert” and not being toxic to pests, these substances can be biologically or chemically active, and can cause environmental and health problems. In some countries, they are listed on the label.

insect attractant
A chemical that lures insects to a trap, thereby removing them from crops, animals or stored products.

insect growth regulator
An insecticide that works by disrupting the growth or development of an insect.

insecticide
A pesticide that is used to kill insects, or to disrupt their growth or development.

insect repellent
A chemical that deters an insect from landing on a human or an animal.

juvenile hormone
A biochemical that occurs in insects and regulates their development. Can be used to control some insects by preventing larvae from developing into adults.

label
The printed information on the packaging of a pesticide formulation that displays the brand name, provides information about the active ingredient, gives instructions for using the product, and lists additional information as required by the registration authority.

larvicide
An insecticide that kills the larvae of insects.

mammal repellent
A chemical that deters mammals from approaching or feeding on crops or stored products.

mating disrupter
A chemical that interferes with the way that male and female insects locate each other using airborne chemicals (pheromones), thereby preventing them from reproducing.

microbial pesticide
A pesticide in which the active ingredient is a living pathogen (e.g. a bacterium, a virus or a fungus) that infects a pest and then kills or inhibits it. Microbial pesticides are not included in the Compendium. Pesticidal chemicals from pathogenic microorganisms are called antibiotic pesticides.

miticide
An acaricide that is used to kill mites.

molluscicide
A pesticide that is used to kill slugs and snails.

mycoherbicide
A herbicide in which the active ingredient is a living fungus that infects a weed and then kills or inhibits it. A type of microbial pesticide. Mycoherbicides are not included in the Compendium.

natural pesticide
A pesticide in which the active ingredient is a biochemical or some other naturally-occurring substance, as opposed to a synthetic pesticide in which the active ingredient has been manufactured. It must not be assumed that natural pesticides are safe or environmentally friendly.

nematicide
A pesticide that is used to kill nematodes in plants or soil.
(Chemicals that kill nematodes for medical or veterinary applications are termed “anthelmintics”; they are classed as pharmaceuticals and so are not included in the Compendium.)

non-target organism
Any organism that a pesticide is not intended to control.

organic pesticide
(1) A pesticide that is an organic chemical, meaning that the molecule consists mainly of a carbon skeleton plus other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus or chlorine. By this definition, nearly all pesticides are organic, while only a few are inorganic, such as copper sulfate, cryolite, lead arsenate, mercurous chloride and phosphine.
(2) A pesticide that is claimed to be environmentally friendly. By this definition, very few pesticides are organic. Claims that a pesticide is environmentally friendly should be viewed with scepticism.

organism
Any living thing, including humans, mammals, birds, fishes, insects, snails, plants, fungi, bacteria and viruses.

ovicide
An acaricide or insecticide that kills the eggs of mites or insects.

pathogen
An organism that causes disease in another organism. Some pathogens that infect pests or weeds can be used as microbial pesticides.

pesticide
A substance that is intended to kill, repel or otherwise control any organism that is designated a “pest”, including weeds, insects, snails, rodents, fungi and bacteria.

pheromone
A biochemical emitted by an organism to influence the behaviour of other organisms of the same species. Some pesticides work by interfering with the normal response of a pest to its pheromones.

plant activator
A substance that protects plants by activating their defence mechanisms against pests or diseases.

plant growth regulator
A substance that alters the expected growth, flowering or reproduction rate of plants. Fertilizers and other plant nutrients are excluded from this definition.

proprietary name
See brand name

registration
Formal licensing with a government-approved body of a new pesticide formulation that allows it to be distributed and sold. Registration normally requires data that demonstrates no unreasonable adverse health or environmental effects when applied according to the directions on the label.

repellent
A chemical that is used to drive away insects, dogs or other pests.

rodenticide
A pesticide that is used to kill rats, mice and other rodents.

safener
A chemical that when used in combination with a pesticide reduces its effects on non-target organisms. Only herbicide safeners have so far been produced, and these protect crops from injury by herbicides but do not prevent the herbicide from killing weeds.

synergism
A phenomenon in which a mixture of 2 chemicals exhibits higher toxicity to a pest than would be expected from their individual toxicities. Can involve either 2 pesticides, or one pesticide plus a substance that is not by itself toxic to the pest, termed a synergist.

synergist
A chemical that enhances the toxicity of a pesticide to a pest, but that is not by itself toxic to the pest.

synthetic pesticide
A pesticide in which the active ingredient has been manufactured, as opposed to a natural pesticide in which the active ingredient occurs naturally.

systematic name
A name that fully defines a chemical compound and is derived using a set of rules. The main rules are those produced by IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) and CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service).

toxicity
The capacity of a pesticide to harm an organism by other than mechanical means. A measure of the ability of a pesticide to cause acute, delayed or allergic effects in an organism.

trade name
See brand name

virucide
A pesticide that is used to kill viruses in plants.
(Chemicals that kill viruses for medical or veterinary applications are termed “antiviral agents”; they are classed as pharmaceuticals and so are not included in the Compendium.)

weedkiller
See herbicide

wood preservative
A pesticide that is used to treat wood to protect it from insects, fungi and other pests.


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