Pesticide Side Effects – An Insecticide Is Not Just That

There are many pesticide side effects, but an important one that a lot of people don’t know about is the effect of pesticides on non-target organisms.

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Pesticide Side Effects

Today I am talking about pesticide side effects and specifically how it relates to the soil food web.

People are often talk about pesticides and herbicides. Really a herbicide is a kind of pesticide.

“Cide” means to kill, so a pesticide is just anything that’s meant to kill a pest. So all of these are pesticides.

So insecticides are meant to kill insects, fungicides are meant to kill fungi, herbicides are meant to kill plants. piscicides for fish, miticides for mites, and we have other ones, too – bactericides, avicides for birds and on and on.

But there are side effects and this is what’s important to realize. When I was young and stupid, I used to spray fungicides on our golf course greens.

Later when I got researching, I found that these fungicides are very toxic to fish, and what I’m now seeing is that basically all of these are toxic to everything to some degree.

So if I spray an insecticide onto my plants in order to kill any insects that come along, it’s probably not gonna kill the plants, but we certainly know now that it disrupts the plant processes and causes problems and actually does makes the plants sick.

Same goes for everything. Fungicides, too. I’m sure insecticides have an effect on microorganisms. We know this.

Microbes And Pesticides

So manufacturers of these pesticides talk about how the soil food web will break them down. They don’t use that term soil food web but they say they will get broken down by microorganisms, and that is probably true to a degree.

Microbes are pretty resilient. There are some that are really tough and they can break down toxins and that’s great. But the problem is when we keep spraying these things over many years, they just slowly kill more and more microbes.

If you have a neighbor, it can be fifty miles away, a farm outside the city. If they are spraying pesticides, those are coming in through the wind, traveling and they’re getting onto your property.

Industry, pollution – that causes problems for the soil food web. When it rains, pesticides come in. Actually, pretty tremendous amounts of pesticides come in rain and they can come from thousands of miles away.

So I’m not trying to scare you in saying that we all have pesticides all over us and we are all going to die or anything. All I’m saying is that pollution and toxins are pretty prevalent in our environment and they have an effect on the whole soil food web. There’s no such thing as an insecticide that only kills insect and doesn’t hurt anything else.

Our Job As Organic Gardeners

So what this means for us, obviously most of my viewers and readers already don’t use these pesticides, so I don’t have to tell you about that, but if you do, I hope this maybe just gives you a different point of view. If you don’t want to hurt your plants, you don’t want to be spraying insecticides and fungicides on them.

But more importantly for everyone, now that we know pesticides are always coming in our organic gardens a little bit even just when it rains, our job is to really cultivate that soil food web with compost and compost teas and effective microorganisms and mulching and in just general creating health in the garden, creating a really vibrant ecosystem.

And that way they’re gonna be able to handle a little bit of toxins. And they do a fantastic job when you have a really diverse healthy soil food web, of breaking down toxins even converting those toxins into more nutrients, saving them from our water ways and from the food in our vegetable garden and all that.

So, I just wanted to talk about pesticide side effects today, and really just say the ultimate goal for us is to work on that soil food web and of course that’s what I talk about on my website.


  1. Hello, I use potassium bicarbonate to control mildew occasionally. What are your thoughts about this as an organic fungicide?

    1. Certainly I’ve used sodium bicarbonate, but I’ve never research into potassium bicarbonate. Either way, it may be an okay short term solution, but we have to remember that it kills beneficial microbes, too, so it can equally cause problems. I would come through with some compost tea or another microbial inoculant a day after I’ve applied something like that.

  2. What if u inhale thes products daily? My husband works for pionner and he treats the corn seeds with ppst 250 which contains fungicide, insecticide and a biological. Do you think after 4 months of doing this he can have perminet harm? Is it even legal ? My husband comes home dizzy and when he blows his nose or cleans his ears there’s treatment!

    1. I think you’ve probably answered your own question. My advice is to stop now before it’s too late. It’s difficult to know if irreparable harm has been done already, but it’s definitely still time to stop.

  3. My neighbor is applying fungicide to his corn field across the road from our home. Is a nice NE wind so as I was working in my vegetable garden I could smell it. How does, or could it affect my garden vegetables and my health?

    1. It could affect your garden and your health. It depends on several factors, especially the type of fungicide and the dose. Best to stay inside during spraying.

  4. Our HOA lawn service put down a fertilizer /per emergent last week.the front side of an entire bed is showing wilt. Other beds were not affected. Plants affected, up to 3 ft from the ground, are a young sweet bay magnolia, 2 small hydrangeas, perennial geranium and a mature ninebark bush. What should I do to relieve the stress on these plants? They are well watered. The lawn service is refusing to take responsibility.

    1. I’m sorry for your trouble, Mary. I’m not sure what can help other than perhaps giving them a boost through foliar fertilizing such as liquid seaweed and microbial inoculants such as effective microorganisms.

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