Beware Illegal Pesticides Available Online

One of the great things about internet shopping is that you can find almost anything you want for sale. Buyers beware when it comes to pesticides. It is very easy to type in "pest control" for a certain pest and see what is offered to you. Unfortunately some of these products may not be legal for use in the UK.

Any insecticide for sale in the UK must go through a registration process, especially if the product claims control of an insect pest. This process is very expensive and time consuming for the companies producing these products. The system is not perfect and sometimes prevents safe and effective products reaching the market due to the registration costs, however the registration process is there for a reason. It aims to prevent untested, ineffective or dangerous products being sold in the UK. For insecticides there are also two types of registration, those permitted for sale to professional growers and qualified insecticide applicators and those permitted for use in the Home & Garden market where any member of the public can use them. Even biological insecticides, which are normally totally safe to the user and the environment have to go through this process, if they claim control of insect pests.

A good example of this is the natural bacteria; Bacillus thuringiensis, which is used for caterpillar control. In the UK there are two professional products registered for use by professionals. There is no current Home & Garden registration, so it should not be available to gardeners. The recent invasion by Box tree moth has made gardeners search for  a natural solution and Bacillius thuringiensis  is a candidate for professionals but is not permitted in the UK for amateurs. However professional and non-professional versions can be found on both Amazon, E-Bay and other outlets. These are often listed by suppliers outside the UK and sent directly to the Amazon or E-Bay customer.

Example of a professional use only product available to the UK home garden market.

Another form of abuse of the system is online sales of insecticides claiming control of pests without going through the registration process. Sometimes these products make claims that have not been verified or tested. Some appear very "snake oil" like claiming multiple benefits and miracle cures. They would never appear on a garden centre shelf but do appear on-line. Little is known of their ingredients or side effects. They can cover a wide range of ingredients from Neem Oil to Worm casts! Besides the obvious risks of relying on these products they can offer false hope and put customers off choosing safer, legal and more effective products such as those that use beneficial insects for pest control.


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