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Pesticides (from Latin pestis – infection and caedo – to kill) are chemicals for fighting against malicios or undesirable microorganisms, plants and animals. According to their purpose pesticides are divided into:

  • insecticides – for fighting against insects
  • acaricides – against acaridans
  • herbicides – against undesirable plants
  • algicides – against algae
  • fungicides – for fighting against fungi
  • bactericides – against bacteria
  • molluscicides – against snails and slugs
  • nematocides – against nematode worms
  • zoocides – against pests from vertebrates group

Pesticides include repellents and antifeedants - substances, which can scare away harmful organisms; attractants - attract substances used for disorientation, control or further disposal of certain species of animals; hormonal insecticides and chemosteriliants - impede normal development and reproduction, as well as the substances, similar to herbicides by the mechanism of action: plant growth regulators influence processes of plant growth and development, defoliants – remove leaves, desiccants – dry plants.

In fact, pesticides are natural or more often synthetic substances. They are almost always used not in the pure form but in the form of various compositions with solvents and surfactants. Sometimes special additives are used, such as antidotes for plants, increasing selectivity of herbicides and synergists, increasing activity of insecticides.

Some pesticides show their activity in gas or vapor state (fumigants); sometimes so called pro-pesticides are used. These are substances that turn into pesticides only during their usage or after getting inside a living organism.

There are several thousand of acting substances. The assortment of the pesticides is constantly updated. It is caused by the necessity of creating more effective and safe for people and environment pesticides. It’s also caused by the resistance that insects, acaridans, fungi and bacteria develop in case of a long-term usage of the same pesticide.

The main features of the pesticides are: activity toward target organisms, selectivity of action and safety for people and environment.

Pesticides activity depends on their capability to penetrate into the living organism, move inside it to the place of action and suppress vital processes; on the quantity of pesticides (measured dose in mg per the whole organism, per unit of its weight or the concentration of the acting substance in the working solution) and on the time of its impact. The measure of the pesticides activity in practice is the norm of the expenditure of the acting substance per area unit (mass, volume) at which the necessary protective effect is achieved.

Pesticides selectivity (the ability to destroy certain types of organisms without affecting the others) depends on differences in biochemical processes, enzymes and substrates in the organisms of different species and, consequently, on their unequal ability to absorb pesticides and detoxification (by oxidation, hydrolysis, etc.), as well as on the doses used (selectivity may get lost with the increase of dose).
Ecological safety of pesticides is connected with their selectivity and their greater or lesser persistence – the ability to persist in the environment for some time without losing its biological activity. Persistence of the pesticide may differ significantly in different environmental objects and in different climatic conditions.
Among pesticides used for plant protection there are contact pesticides (active in places of contact) and systemic pesticides (able to absorb and move through the circulatory system to different parts of the plant). As a rule, systemic pesticides are more effective.

The usage of pesticides in agriculture contributes to the increase of its productivity and reduction of losses.