Neonicotinoids, A Brief History II: Imidacloprid

Living With Insects Blog

Nicotine has several undesirable properties for use as an insecticide. On a per weight basis, nicotine is generally more toxic to vertebrates than to insects. Compared to other insecticides, nicotine was used in relatively high concentrations and only effective for a short interval. At the physiological level, the nicotine receptors of mammals and insects are significantly different. Could analogs of nicotine be produced that would be more effective against insect nicotine receptors and less effective against the vertebrate receptors? Would some of the analogs prove more effective insecticides?

The chemists at Bayer went to work synthesizing chemical analogs and the biologists tested their effectiveness against insects. Bayer produced analogs that were 1000 times more toxic to house flies than to lab rats. Some of these analogs had interesting properties such as being taken up in the vascular system of plants. The analogs proved to be very effective insecticides, especially against…

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