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How Do Insect Growth Regulators Eliminate Cockroach Infestations?

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How Do Insect Growth Regulators Eliminate Cockroach Infestations?

Much research has been conducted on insect biology, particularly insect pest biology. It should not be surprising to learn that entomologists sometimes discover new ways to control insect pests while studying insect biology. For example, it has long been known that insect behaviors are largely influenced by pheromones, and not long ago, researchers gained the ability to synthesize some insect pheromones for the purpose of insect pest control. Synthesized compounds that mimic the pheromones involved in insect mating and food acquisition are now used to lure certain insect pests to bait stations.

Research on insect maturation led to the development of a class of insecticides known as insect growth regulators (IGRs). Insect growth regulators contain chemicals that alter the physical development of insect pests, ultimately making them unable to reproduce. Since most IGRs render insect pests sterile rather than killing them, several weeks must pass before IGRs fully eliminate an infestation. Despite this, IGRs are favored by many homeowners due to the low amount, or complete absence of toxic substances they contain. IGRs are widely used to control termites, and they are one of the few reliable methods of German cockroach control.

The IGRs known as “juvenoids” contain synthesized compounds that mimic the natural growth hormones of insect pests. When cockroach nymphs are exposed to a juvenoid IGR, they either molt into sterile adults with abnormal physical features, or they remain nymphs. While IGRs are highly effective at eliminating entire German cockroach populations from homes, they are often used in combination with minimal insecticide applications while homeowners wait for IGRs to begin showing results. Some IGRs also stimulate feeding activity among pests, which is useful for controlling German cockroaches that are known for avoiding baits, as stimulating their appetite makes bait acceptance more likely. Some IGRs are chitin synthesis inhibitors, and they work by inhibiting the growth of new exoskeletons after developing larvae or nymphs shed their old ones. Chitin synthesis inhibitors result in death during the developmental stages, and they are often used with success for controlling termites.

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