Like neem oil and pyrethrins, rotenone is plant-derived insecticide. Like pyrethrins, rotenone is highly toxic to insects and fish. Unlike pyrethrins, it is also moderately toxic to birds and mammals including humans. Because pure rotenone is organic, it can be used on organically-grown fruits and vegetables, but that does not imply safety. It is simply natural, non-synthetic. In large doses, it is toxic, even fatal; some human deaths have followed deliberate ingestion of large amounts. Rotenone also causes Parkinson's disease in rats; it may increase the Parkinson's risk in humans.
Beware also that rotenone preparations may be mixed with synthetic and more toxic pesticides. Read the label; let the buyer beware.
Rotenone is effective against virtually all insect pests, but is also toxic to beneficial insects. Specific target pests include aphids, borers, cabbage worms, caterpillars, codling moths, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, Mexican bean beetles, sawflies, stinkbugs, thrips and weevils, and many others.
Rotenone breaks down rapidly when exposed to sunlight, and in the garden degrades almost completely within a week. Note that it lasts much longer in water - up to half a year - and that is extremely toxic to fish. Take care to contaminate streams, ponds, or other bodies of water.
As with all pesticides, rotenone should not be used indiscriminately. It should not be used if not needed, and not within several weeks of harvesting. Beware that commercial forms may also contain synthetics pesticides, which are often considerably more toxic to humans and other mammals.
Apply in early evening, as per manufacturer's directions, and use adequate protection.
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