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DDT insecticide



Chemical products designed to kill insects. Insecticides can be classified as:

1. Inorganic toxic compounds (e.g., soluble salts of Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, and Copper) are consumed and act as stomach poisons. Silica absorbs the outer waxy covering and desiccates insects.

2. Natural organic compounds (e.g., Pyrethrin, Rotenone, Nicotine, Copper naphthenate, petroleum derivatives) are contact insecticides.

3. Synthetic organic compounds such as chlorinated (e.g., DDT, Aldrin, Chlordane, Lindane) contact insecticides are nonbiodegradable and many have been banned. Organic phosphates (e.g., Parathion, Diazinon, Chlorpyrifos, Dichlorvos, Malathion) are toxic contact insecticides that are still in use.

4. Insect growth regulators (e.g., Methoprene, hydroprene, and Fenoxycarb) prevent larvae from becoming adults.

5. Fumigants (e.g., Sulfuryl fluoride and Methyl bromide) are vapor phase insecticides that penetrate inaccessible locations.

6. Anoxic storage using oxygen scavengers (Ageless, VELOXY) in an airtight container kills all stages of insects (adults, eggs, larvae, and pupae).



All insecticides are potentially toxic to humans and animals. Pyrethrins, rotenone and methoxychlor are the least toxic because they quickly decompose.

Resources and Citations

  • Lynda A. Zycherman, J.Richard Schrock, A Guide to Museum Pest Control, FAIC and Association of Systematics Collections, Washington DC, 1988
  • J. Dawson, CCI Technical Bulletin, 'Solving Museum Insect Problems: Chemical Control' , Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, No. 15
  • Caring for your Collections, Arthur W Schulz (ed.), Harry N. Abrams, Inc. , New York, 1992
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998