Difference Between Insecticides and Pesticides

Insecticides vs Pesticides

Insecticide also is a pesticide. Therefore, there is a relationship between them. Most of the time the terms “pesticide” and “insecticide” are used interchangeably. Despite the similarities between the two, there are some differences, as well. Therefore, this article intends to discuss the characteristics of both pesticides and insecticides.


Insecticide is a pesticide, which is used to prevent, destroy, repel, or to control insect pests under the economical threshold level. Most of the insecticides target the egg or larval stage of insects. Insecticides are classified under several categories. Insecticides that are classified according to the chemical nature include inorganic compounds, botanical insecticides, organochloride compounds, organophosporus compounds, carbamate, synthetic pyrethroid, and chitin inhibitor. Also, there is another classification by the mode of action, which includes stomach toxicants, contact toxicants, systemic toxicants, and fumigants.

Systemic insecticides kill insects through feeding, and contact insecticides kill insects through direct contact with the insect’s body. Therefore, systemic insecticides are incorporated with plants. Sap feeding insects are more susceptible for systemic insecticides. Insecticides are toxicants. Therefore, they could adversely affect human being and the environment.


Pesticide is a pest killing agent. There are two definitions for pesticides. One is “any substance or mixture of substances, intended for preventing, destroying or controlling pests”, and the other is “an economical poison uses for preventing, destroying repelling or mitigating any animal pest, pathogen or a weed”. There are three methods of classification of pesticides. They are target organism, chemical nature and the physical structure. Pesticides classified according to the target organism include insecticides (killing agents of insects), termicides (killing agents of termites), tickicides (killing agents of ticks), avicides (Killing agents of birds), miticides (killing agents of mites) etc. Pesticides classified based on the chemical composition include inorganic, organic, synthetic, natural or botanical pesticides. Also, pesticides are at different physical status including granules, emulsifiable concentrates, granules, Wettable powders, water soluble powders and dispersible concentrates. Synthetic pesticides are manufactured as a technical grade material (T.C.) including active ingredient.

Pesticide formulation is the most important part in the pesticide application. It should ensure the improvement of properties of the pesticide, handling, effectiveness and safety. Since pesticides can have an adverse effect on non targeted organisms, safety precautions are a must in pesticide application. Therefore, novel techniques of pesticide applications take place in an environmental friendly pathway.

What is the difference between Insecticides and Pesticides?

• Since insecticide is a group of pesticides, they are similar in many ways. Both of them are toxic; therefore, adverse environmental impacts could be encountered. On the other hand, they are manufactured as a technical grade material.

• Pesticide is covering a vast area than the insecticide.

• Pesticides are killing substances of any pest including arthropods, vertebrates, and plants. Insecticides are specifically killing substances of insects. Therefore, insecticides target the larval stage or egg stage of the insect.

• There are three major methods of the classification of pesticides. They are target organism, physical nature, and the chemical composition.

• Insecticides are classified according to the chemical composition and the mode of action. Systemic insecticides and contact insecticides are used frequently in commercial agriculture.

• Systemic insecticides are applicable for sap feeding insects. The effect of the systematic insecticide is chronic, while the effect of the contact insecticide is acute.

• Novel trends of pesticide application is towards the environmental friendly pathway.