The Nature of PBO

Wednesday September 19, 2012


Mr Pest Control


Is the "synergist" P.B.O. repellant? Would adding it to Termidor or Phantom applications provide any benefit? My hope is that it is not repellant and I could use less Termidor or Phantom to obtain similar results.

Richard, TX

Mr Pest Control


PBO is piperonyl butoxide, and it is the more common of two synergists frequently added to pyrethrum to enhance the killing ability of the pyrethrum, which by itself can "knock down" an insect rapidly but which may not completely kill it. Insects such as roaches may be stunned, but can metabolize the pyrethrum molecule and survive. In the olden days a product called Ficam was found to be somewhat ineffective on German roaches because of this - the roaches metabolized the active ingredient. So, the manufacturer came out with Ficam Plus, combining the a.i. with PBO to help overcome that difficulty. Another formulation was a Baygon aerosol that also added PBO, and it was found that this offered an enhanced effect on many pests. 

Used by itself PBO (Exponent, SynerPro, Prentox PBO-8) has a knockdown effect on insects. However, the label of Exponent, for example, offers its use only for mixing with other insecticides to enhance the effect of that other product. It states that the PBO has "no insecticidal properties of its own", but only works to block resistance by the pests to the other active ingredient. Because of its rapid action as a knock-down material I wonder if it could have some repellent effect, but this does not seem to be mentioned on the literature I have seen. However, without knowing if there is repellency it may be best to allow the non-repellent insecticides like Termidor and Phantom to do their jobs by themselves, and so far they are doing a marvelous job. 

I suppose, given that I have nothing supporting the idea that you could use less of these materials by combining with PBO, it would be best to stick with the label rates where possible. However, most states do permit you to use lower rates if you feel like it and can justify this with effective pest management, and you may be able to use lower rates and still see the control you need for many insect pests. 

Mr. Pest Control

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Please note, Mr. Pest Control is answering questions supplied by PMP customers across North America. His answers are generated from industry and manufacturer-provided information. The answer may not be specific to the laws and regulations for your State, Province, Territory or Country. In addition, products mentioned may not be registered and or available in all areas. Always check with your local Univar office for specific information to your area. Always read and follow label directions.