Fungicides vs Herbicides vs Pesticides vs Insecticides

By - December 7, 2018
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Pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides each contain the suffix ‘cide.’ In Latin, this means ‘killer’ or ‘the act of killing.’ The ‘cides’ in these cases indicate the ability to kill organisms that damage or kill plants, such as plant diseases, insects and fungi. Fungicides and herbicides are types of pesticides. Pesticides are substances that kill a variety of plant pests, with ‘pests’ simply meaning a variety of problems that hurt plants, such as fungi and even other types of plants.


Fungi lead to plant mold, rot, and possibly disease. Fungicides help to reduce fungi before they become a serious problem. Fungicides can be either protectants or eradicants. A protectant fungicide can be applied before a fungus is clearly present. It is essentially a preventative measure. Fruit and vegetable crops are often treated with these protectants. An eradicant is put directly to a fungus and often is needed when a protectant is not applied.

Eradicants can be useful to stop diseases in a fruit tree orchard where a few trees suffer from a disease. Fungicides that are used for agricultural reasons in the US have to be registered with the FDA. They must not lead to harm for the rest of the treated plant or leave any type of toxicity behind. An example of a common fungicide is triticonazole is that is used on cereal grain.


Herbicides differ from other pesticides because they are intended to kill or curtail various types of plant growth instead of protecting them. Herbicides are applied in areas including lawns and golf courses. A selective herbicide is intended to kill only one sort of plant in an area that contains several plant varieties. A good example is an herbicide that can kill weeds in grasses. Non-selective herbicides are able to kill all plants in the area where it is applied, such as all plants that grow up between cracks in the pavement. Inorganic herbicide chemicals are things such as sodium chlorate and borate; organic versions include sulfonylureas and phenol derivatives.


Pesticides are intended to treat many possible plant problems and can be applied in a number of ways. Pesticides besides herbicides and fungicides include insecticides, miticides, and rodenticides, which kill mites, insects and rodents. Some pesticides may be applied directly to soil or plants. They can be in the form of liquid, powder or gas. Others may be actual baits, including rodent poisons and ant traps that appeal to those pests.

Let’s say a few words here about safe use of pesticides. Pesticides often contain toxic chemicals and substances; after all, if it can kill a bug or plant, it probably can do something to humans or pets. One of the most-used pesticides out there is Roundup that is used to kill weeds. Some experts and organizations claim that Roundup exposure can lead to serious health problems, including some cancers.

It is important to follow the directions on the package of any pesticide you use. You might want to investigate safety more before you begin spraying a certain pesticide all over your garden or yard. Some smart planning or even an alternative solution may be effective in killing weeds and pests without using anything with harmful chemicals. For instance, you can often beat down weeds by applying a lot of mulch to your garden, or get rid of most fungi by cutting off any infected leaves.


Insecticides are chemicals used to destroy a variety of bugs in the home, in gardens and on farm crops. The first thing to know about an insecticide is its formulation. This is a fancy word to describe how the insecticide is made up. Is it a liquid concentrate that you have to mix with water before you spray it? Is it a flowable type, meaning it has little bits of the active ingredient in it that is suspended in liquid? Or, is it granular – a solid mixed with a lot of clay particles? Is it a dust? The formulation is listed on the bottle or box and will tell you how the product should be spread over the plants.

Insecticides also can be classified by how they affect their environment and their toxicity. There exist low impact insecticides and while they are not always organic, are less harmful to the environment and humans. There are many types of these. There are some major insecticides that are very toxic and can harm pets and humans, and might even be harmful to beneficial bugs, such as ladybugs and bees.

Non-Toxic Treatments

Using pesticides on or near any type of edible plant is a major concern to many people. Data that has been reported by FDA and EPA has indicated that possibly toxic residue may be present on produce when it gets to market or even to the dinner table. According to the Environmental Working Group, it performs regular analysis of government pesticide data and it releases what it calls its Dirty Dozen each year. Produce that is listed as organic contains no toxic pesticides.

A good option for a natural fungicide is a baking soda and water and cinnamaldehyde mixture. This is made by doing a steam distilling of cinnamon bark. Natural herbicide options can include vinegar and special herbicidal soap. You should use care with a natural herbicide because if you spill or use too much, it could harm or kill them.


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