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Microbial insecticides are a new form of pesticide that work by infecting selected insect populations with bacteria, viruses, amoebas or fungi. Though this sounds potentially dangerous, many argue that it is actually quite safe, since the application of microbial insecticides is specific to the species one is trying to kill. Microbial insecticides usually have no effect on animal populations, unless diminishing a certain bug in the area interrupts the food chain. Each type usually works against only one type of insect.
Bacterial microbial insecticides may be used to control certain types of caterpillars that eat crops. They will kill caterpillars of both moths and butterflies, though, and should only be used where one will not diminish a butterfly population. Normally, this preparation is sprayed directly on crops.
One bacterial microbial insecticide works specifically on mosquito populations. It is considered extremely beneficial in eliminating populations that might spread the potentially deadly West Nile virus.
Several viral microbial insecticides work to first sicken and kill some insect species. They may affect moths, and sawflies, depending upon the virus used. Fungal microbial insecticides may be used on cockroaches, and create disease among a whole population. Amoebic insecticides may not kill an insect but may shorten the lifespan of an insect or cause it not to reach sexual maturity.
While microbial insecticides may be fantastic at killing a single type of insect, those with infestations of several different types of insects may require the use of several different sprays. Since microbial insecticides are so species specific, they are unlikely to harm any other bugs eating up or infesting crops, so they may not reduce all bug infestations at the same time.
Microbial insecticides also tend to be more vulnerable to outdoor elements. For example, long exposure to the sun, or heavy rains can kill certain bacteria. Therefore those attempting to control insect populations must be careful as to when it is appropriate to spray crops to achieve the maximum effect desired.
Some scientists express concern over safety issues regarding the use of microbial insecticides. We know for certain that living creatures even at the microscopic level change and evolve, as do the creatures they affect like insects. Could certain bugs become disease resistant, or could certain microbial insecticides mutate and affect other populations? These questions concern some environmentalists who view the widespread use of microbial insecticides as potentially dangerous in the future.
For now however, other environmentalists are celebrating the development of species specific agents that seem a better alternative to more frequently used poisonous pesticides. These environmentalists argue that microbial insecticides offer a way to get rid of harmful insects by keeping beneficial insects safe.
What are examples of microbial insecticides for mosquitoes?