Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Soaps as Insecticides

  • Rebecca Baldwin
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_4255

Soaps were used as insecticides in Europe as long ago as 1787, and there are several thousand references in the literature on the use of soaps as insecticides. Prior to 1900, fish or whale oil soaps were the most commonly used insecticidal soaps. Soaps have changed a lot since then, yet they still prove to be an effective control of certain insect pests. Currently, numerous soap salts are registered as insecticides with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are three documented active ingredients of soluble soap salts: sodium, ammonium and potassium. It is principally potassium salts that are used as insecticides, acaricides, herbicides, and algaecides.

Because of their chemical structure, soap salts precipitate out of hard water, resulting in an insoluble residue known as soap scum. To combat this, synthetic soap substitutes, or detergents, are available as cleaning products. Detergents share the cleansing and emulsifying properties of soap, and they are not separately...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Baldwin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA