Why Do Pests Become Resistant To Pesticides?

Most pests are quite resilient. The cockroach for example, can withstand almost anything you throw at it. There is a reason there are so many depictions of them in post-apocalyptic movies and games. Unfortunately, that means they can also be hard to get rid of. By knowing the resilience that pests have, it shouldn’t sound too far-fetched that pests can become resistant to pesticides. Why do pests become resistant to pesticides? We are going to explore that question today.

spraying pesticides

First, we should note that insects becoming resistant to pesticide is not a new problem. Insects were around as early as the 1800’s as being resistant to pesticides. This is why we have been developing so many pesticides since then.

Part of natural evolution is that animals, including pests, adapt to address threats to their safety. Pesticides is just one example of that. They adapt to live in the environment that they are in, or they die out.

What makes a difference?

Resistance to pesticide can happen in as few as 2 years for new insects. It may also take up to 20 years, but waiting for that long to develop new pesticides is not a good idea. The last thing you want is to be left without a pesticide when the pest becomes resistant. And we don’t know when that will happen. How fast resistance comes depends on several factors:

  • Reproduction Timetable
  • Migration Patterns
  • Availability of Hosts
  • Persistence of the Pesticide
  • Number of Pesticide Applications Conducted

Temperature also plays a role in the development of resilience. Warmer temperatures will cause the resilience to develop faster.

crops and pesticides

The development of resistance also isn’t affected by whether the pesticide is an organic chemical compound or not. DDT was supposed to be an organic pesticide to help overcome the resilience developed to other pesticides while not having terrible pesticides. Pests became resilient to that, just like they did to non-organic pesticides. Even though some pests became resilient, DDT is so dangerous to humans, that it is banned in the UK.

Should pesticides still be used?

Treatment for pests with pesticides should be the last option in most cases. By reducing the amount of times you use a pesticide, you are reducing the chances of the pests developing resistance.  Use alternative methods of pest control when possible such as eco-friendly pest control. Pest prevention is also key to helping to reduce the resilience of pests to pesticides.

fumigating truck

Pest control experts must also be prepared to encounter pests that are resilient to the pesticides they have on hand. If this happens, they must use alternative pesticides or alternative control methods, which is why you hire a professional. This can be a challenge, but a professional is ready for it.

Pesticides are a great way to get rid of an infestation, but they have their downsides. One of those being that they do not work forever. Resilience is a problem with many things that scientists develop in labs, not just pesticides. For example, resilience to medication can happen too. Part of pest control is knowing that that resilience exists and how to address it.

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