The pyrethroid insecticides were developed in the 1960s by a team of scientists at Rothamsted Research, led by Michael Elliott. They identified the most active components of pyrethrum, a natural (though relatively weak) insecticide mixture extracted from the chrysanthemum flowers (a type of daisy), and modified the molecular structures to improve their activity against insects.
|17%||Pyrethroids account for nearly one fifth of global insecticide sales|
|US $500 million||Value of current market for pyrethroids per year|
|CBE||And Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement received by Michael Elliott|
The new compounds were more effective at lower application rates than other classes of insecticides, less persistent in the environment, did not bioaccumulate in organisms, and are safer than their predecessors with very low mammalian toxicity. Bioallethrin and tetramethrin are two examples still used today.
In a market worth more than $7Bn each year, pyrethroids make a significant contribution to the UK economy. Furthermore, because of their natural origin some pyrethrum-based products can also be used for organic food manufacture.