What About Systemics?
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Pesticides that are in the soil and then taken up by plants are called systemic pesticides, because they introduce a toxin into the entire plant system.
Insects that feed on treated plants are poisoned as they take in the plant’s juices. Systemic pesticides are an effective way to treat scale problems that do not respond to simpler strategies, and they are sometimes used to control other sucking insects, too. However, when you use a systemic pesticide, you are bringing a toxic substance into a closed indoor environment. It is therefore important to read the product’s label carefully!
Older systemic pesticides often used as their active ingredient disulfoton, which is extremely toxic. Most new products are based on imidacloprid, which is much less toxic to people, earthworms, and birds. It is included in some potting soils and combination ready-to-use pest control sprays that are safe to use indoors. Read the label, because concentrated forms of imidacloprid-based pesticides should be applied outdoors rather than indoors. Move the plant outdoors for treatment, and allow the spray to dry completely before bringing the plant back inside. Also remember that systemic pesticides should never be used on edible plants!
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