The Master Gardeners Association of BC supports an IPM approach and environmentally responsible use of pesticides.
This means that you should only consider the use of the least toxic chemicals after all non-chemical alternatives have been used. For assignments, only chemical control references that appear on the Least Toxic Pesticides List, prepared by Linda Gilkeson, (listed here and in her book West Coast Gardening: Natural Insect, Weeds & Disease Control. 2013) will be acceptable.
The Home & Garden Pest Management Guide and the West Coast Gardening: Natural Insect, Weeds & Disease Control are still valuable reference manuals. Just check to make sure that the chemical recommendation appears on the Least Toxic Pesticides List in PDF below.
- 1:Rotenone is allowed by municipal bylaw in Vancouver and allowed for organic growers in some cases but is omitted from Linda Gilkeson’s list/.
- 2:Safer’s & others sell a neem ‘leaf shine’ product that is not registered as an insecticide and has no instructions for use as such. The instructions to spray regularly ‘for healthy plants’, if followed, would regularly expose beneficial insects to a spray with insecticidal activity.
- 3: Safer’s 3-in-1 Garden Spray contains both fatty acid insecticide and sulphur for disease control. There are few, if any, times when a gardener would need an insecticide at the same time they require a fungicide.
BC residents looking for information about how to safely dispose of pesticides should be directed to the Recycling Council of British, Columbia (RCBC) Hotline. RCBC can help with pesticides that are dealt with through the “take-back program”, including DDT.
RCBC can also give options on how to handle hazardous products with labels that don’t show the two things required for disposal under the program: the skull-and-crossbones poison symbol and the Pest Control Product (PCP) number. RCBC’s suggestion was to wrap dry pesticides in three bags and put them in the garbage, and to pour wet pesticides on absorbent paper, allow it to dry, and then put them in the garbage.
The Product Care Association handles pesticide disposal in British Columbia. Go to their website at www.productcare.orgfor a list of bottle depots that accept pesticides for disposal. The following depots were called as a random sample.
J R Bottle Depot
4 – 20097 – 97A Avenue
604-513-0420 10 am to 5 pm, M – F
Their response was excellent: they take all products , at no charge. If a product does not have the two symbols, it must be hand-labelled and you must leave your name and address.
2577 Kingsway Avenue (rear door)
Only takes products with two labels and DDT. 9 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week
East Van Bottle Depot
2605 Kaslo Street
Only takes products with two labels and DDT. 9 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week
Excerpt with permission from: West Coast Gardening: Natural Insect, Weed and Disease Control. 2nd edition. 2013
This list provides examples of Canadian registered products at time of writing; it is not a comprehensive list as company product registrations change. Most products listed are for residential use and have ‘DOMESTIC’ on the label. As noted, a couple of pesticides are currently only available in products registered for Commercial use, but are worth knowing about in the event Domestic products become available. Products named are not necessarily approved for certified organic growers (consult Organic
Materials Research Institute lists or local organic certification bodies for acceptable products).
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki [Safer’s BTK Biological Insecticide; Rona BTK; DiPel-Commercial]
• Contains a common species of soil bacteria; they produce spores and protein crystals that infect and
• Non-toxic to other insects, animals and people. Non-persistent, breaks down in a few days.
• Use to control leaf-eating caterpillars in greenhouses, food crop and gardens, and on ornamentals.
• Spray foliage while caterpillars are actively feeding; caterpillars stop feeding immediately but may
not die for 2-5 days.
Horticultural (Supreme) Oils: Dormant & Summer Oils [Green Earth, Wilson’s products]
• Contains highly refined petroleum oil, or canola oil; acts upon contact, by suffocation and by
disrupting other physical processes; there are no residual effects.
• Dormant oil controls overwintering eggs of aphids, some moths, mealybugs, pear psylla, pear and
rose sawflies, scales, spider mites. Summer oil controls mealybugs, rust mites, scales, spider mites,
• Use dormant oils on deciduous woody plants after leaves drop, or before growth starts. Use summer
oils on shrubs and trees during the growing season, but not in hot weather.
• Always check labels for list of plants that cannot tolerate oil sprays.
Insecticidal Soap [Safer’s, Scotts, Green Earth products]
• Contains biodegradable fatty acids; acts upon contact against insects and mites; no residual effects.
• Used on aphids, earwigs, mealybugs, pear and rose slugs, solids, scales, spider mites, whiteflies and
other insects; outdoors and indoors.
• Thorough spraying required; repeat applications may be necessary.
• Limit number of times soap applied to the same foliage as it can damage leaves. Phototoxic to some
plants (check labels).
Silicon Dioxide (Diatomaceous Earth) [Insectigone; Green Earth, Scotts Ecosense, Safer's products]
• Contains ground up fossilised shells of diatoms mined from natural deposits.
• Acts upon contact against insects by causing them to dry up; kills most insects that contact it. Non-
toxic to people, animals, birds, fish, earthworms.
• Long residual effects, if kept dry and not dispersed; best used for structural pests because it kills
beneficial insects; limit use on outdoor plants to spot treatments.
Pyrethrins [Safer’s; Scotts Ecosense, Green Earth products; Doktor Doom Botanics]
• Active ingredients extracted from pyrethrum daisies; a nerve toxin that acts upon contact.
• Used on crawling and flying insects on plants, pets, in structures, indoors and outdoors. Non-
• Moderate toxicity, avoid inhalation or contact with skin and eyes; may cause allergic reactions in
sensitive people. A last resort pesticide.
Spinosad [Conserve Domestic Naturalyte Insect Control Product]
•Controls many leaf eating caterpillars and beetles, thrips and other insects.
Compound extracted from a soil bacteria. Fast-acting, remains active up to 4 weeks once sprayed on
leaves. Highly toxic to bees and parasitic insects at time of spraying; low risk to beneficial insects
once spray residues dry.
Do not apply to squash family plants. Avoid spray drift to water bodies.
Limit the number of applications to any one plant to 3 times per year.
•Azadirachtin, Neem Oil [Registered in US, but not Canada at time of writing]. Neem ‘leaf shine’
products are not registered; following label directions to spray frequently ‘for healthy plants’ overuses an
• Powdery mildew. Aphids and other sucking insects, leaf eating caterpillars
• Active ingredients derived from the neem tree. Controls some plant disease fungi; repels chewing and
sucking insects, also suffocates insects. Low toxicity, low environmental impact. Once dry, sprayed
area is safe for beneficial insects.
• Not persistent, reapply after a couple of days. More effective on immature insects than on adults
Kaolin Clay [Surround Crop Protectant-Commercial].
• Fine clay particles applied in a spray; forms a white barrier film when dry.
• Not registered or suitable for ornamentals.
• Clay barriers have a repellant, anti-feedant effect on agricultural pests: caterpillars, sawflies, fruit
flies, pear psylla, tarnished plant bugs.
Fatty Acid Herbicide [Safer’s Topgun; Safer’s Superfast Patio Killer; Scotts Ecosense Pathclear]
• Naturally occurring fatty acid compound, acts on contact to kill foliage of most plants; non-residual.
• Controls annual weeds, provides suppression or top-kill of some perennials.
• Apply in spring or summer to actively growing weeds, less than 13 cm tall (5 inches).
• Avoid letting spray drift onto desirable plants.
Acetic Acid Herbicide [Scotts Ecoclear, Ecosense products; Green Earth products]
• Contains the same naturally occurring acid as in vinegar.
• Acts on contact to kill foliage; non-residual.
• Uses and timing the same as fatty acid herbicide (above).
Corn Gluten Meal Pre-emergent Herbicide [TurfMaize; Scotts products; Wilson Weed-Out; WOW
Without Weeds; Green It Liquid Bio-herbicide ]
• Non-toxic; granular or liquid form of corn gluten.
• Suppresses germination of seeds; registered to control dandelion and smooth crabgrass in lawns.
• Controls only germinating seeds, not established weeds; should not be used on new lawns until after
the first mowing.
Sclerotinia minor [Sarritor Selective Biological Lawn Weed Killer]
• Biological control for dandelion and other broadleaved weeds in lawns.
• Common native fungus that destroys top growth of susceptible plants; herbicidal effect appears to be
from oxalic acid secreted by the fungus.
• Does not persist in the environment. Do not allow spray to overlap on vegetation adjacent to lawns or
to drift to ponds or aquatic habitats.
Sulphur [Later’s, Wilson’s, Green Earth, Green Cross, C-I-L brands; Safer’s Defender]
•Sulphur particles bind with spores to prevent germination; broad-spectrum control of fungi, also a
matricide; no residual effects.
Used on foliage for black knot, black spot, leaf spots, powdery mildew, rusts, apple and pear scab and
others; also controls russet and rust mites.
Use only on plants tolerant to sulphur or extreme injury may result (check labels).
Low toxicity to mammals, bees, birds, but toxic to beneficial mites.
•Lime Sulphur [Later’s, Green Earth, Green Cross, C-I-L brands]
• Contains a calcium sulphur compound; controls fungi, also mites and some insects; no residual
• Used as dormant spray or growing season spray for fungal diseases; also for scales, spider mites, rust
mites, aphids, mealybugs, peach borers.
• Phytotoxic to most actively growing plants; use growing season spray only on plants listed on label
and at the correct dilution.
• Moderate toxicity to mammals, bees, birds, toxic to beneficial mites.
Bicarbonate, Potassium or Sodium [MilStop® Foliar Fungicide-Commercial]
• Contact fungicide for control of powdery mildew on agricultural crops and ornamentals.
• Acts on contact to kill fungi. Low toxicity and low environmental impact.
• Start applying at first sign of disease and every 1-2 weeks thereafter.
Copper (Fixed Copper, Copper Sulfate) [Green Earth Bordo Copper Spray]
• Bacterial leaf spot, powdery mildew, late blight and other plant diseases.
• Moderate toxicity. Can build up to toxic levels in soil if used frequently. Remains active on the leave
1-2 weeks after spraying. Highly toxic to fish and aquatic organisms.
• Many plants are sensitive to copper (read labels). Avoid spray drift or runoff to water bodies.
Ferric Phosphate/Ferric Sodium [Safer’s; Sluggo; Escar-go; Scotts EcoSense Slug-B-Gone]
• Contains iron mixed in an attractant bait
• Metal ions cause slugs & snails to stop feeding, dry up and die in 3-6 days.
• Non-toxic to people, pets, birds, insects, earthworms and other wildlife. Remains active for a week
even in heavy rain. Broadcast small amount widely over the area--do not surround plants with the bait
as it attract slugs to feed. Replace after prolonged heavy rain.
• Use instead of metaldehyde, which is toxic to pets and wildlife (fatal to dogs).
1. Rotenone is allowed by municipal bylaw in Vancouver and for organic growers in some restricted
cases, but I do not consider it safe enough to recommend, therefore have omitted it.
2. No combination products containing mixtures of insecticides and fungicides are included. It is unlikely
that a gardener would ever need both types of pesticide at the same time, therefore use of such products
contribute to overuse of pesticides in the environment.
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