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Publication #PI-46

How are Pesticides Classified?1

Frederick M. Fishel2

This guide explains the classification system used by experts to define how pesticides are classified.

Pesticides are classified according to their function. For example, insecticides control insects, and herbicides control weeds. There are pesticides that control more than one class of pests and may be considered in more than one pesticide class. Methiocarb, for example, may be considered an acaricide, insecticide, and molluscicide because it controls mites, insects, and snails and slugs, respectively. Another common example is 2,4-D, which is used as a herbicide for broadleaf weed control, but it is a plant growth regulator at low rates. Attractants and repellents are considered pesticides because of their use in pest control. The following table shows a listing of pesticides classified based on their target pests with some examples.

Tables

Table 1. 

Pesticides classified by target pests.

Pesticide Class

Primary Target/Action

Example(s)

Acaricide

Mites

Bifenazate

Algaecide

Algae

Copper sulfate

Attractant

Attracts wide range of pests

Pheromones

Avicide

Birds

Avitrol (aminopyridine)

Bactericide

Bacteria

Copper complexes, streptomycin

Bait

Wide range of organisms

Anticoagulants

Biopesticide

Wide range of organisms

Bacillus thuringiensis

Defoliant

Removes plant foliage

Tribufos

Desiccant

Removes water

Boric acid

Fumigant

Wide range of organisms

Aluminum phosphide

Fungicide

Fungi

Azoxystrobin, chlorothalonil

Herbicide

Weeds

Atrazine, glyphosate, 2,4-D

Insect growth regulator

Insects

Diflubenzuron

Insecticide

Insects

Carbaryl, imidacloprid

Molluscicides

Snails, slugs

Metaldehyde

Nematicide

Nematodes

Ethoprop

Piscicide

Fish

Rotenone

Plant growth regulator

Regulates plant growth

Gibberellic acid, 2,4-D

Predacide

Mammal predators

Strychnine

Repellent

Vertebrates and invertebrates

DEET, methiocarb

Rodenticide

Rodents

Warfarin

Silvicide

Trees

Tebuthiuron

Termiticide

Kills termites

Fipronil

Footnotes

1.

This document is PI-46, one of a series of the Agronomy Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 2005. Revised February 2014 and March 2017. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Frederick M. Fishel, professor, Agronomy Department and director, Pesticide Information Office; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Use pesticides safely. Read and follow directions on the manufacturer's label.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.