5 Questions with Dr. Jamel Sandidge

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According to Dr. Sandidge, most PMPs have a misconception that products containing borates are exceptionally slow. While this may be true when compared to fast-acting pyrethroids, borates actually operate at a speed similar to slow-acting pesticides and termiticides (also known as non-repellent insecticides). It’s important to rebuild the story of borates with up-to-date information including current research. They are not nearly as slow as people think.

July 5, 2022

Dr. Jamel Sandidge, Ph.d., bce, National Director, Technical Services Nisus Corporation
1. I’ve heard that borates kill slowly. Does that mean that it will take longer to obtain control of an insect infestation?

The speed of kill with products containing borates is highly dependent on the amount of active ingredient present. Borates must be ingested to be effective. They are often found in baits at low concentrations because a delayed response allows time for insects to consume bait or carry it back to a nest site to share with colony members. Once ingested, borates start working quickly like many other slow-acting insecticides such as fipronil or dinotefuran, and within two to three days, insects will start to die. When used as dust at a much higher concentration (95-100 percent) or as a liquid (10-15 percent solution), borates act rapidly, and death starts in as little as 12-24 hours after contact. Borates create versatile, long-lasting, effective pesticides.

2. If I’m rotating different baits for cockroaches, does that address the resistance concerns that we hear about?

There are two primary mechanisms of resistance: behavioral and physiological. We are most familiar with physiological resistance, which leads to increased detoxification, target site insensitivity and reduced penetration of pesticides. These mechanisms all occur through small genetic changes (mutations) that alter proteins in insect populations that are passed to the next generation. Borates have multiple modes of action but do not directly affect proteins. The key to bait rotation is to rotate different classes of pesticides, not simply rotating to a different bait matrix. Borates are a perfect rotation bait.

MRB is packaged in pre-filled 1.23 oz. (35 g) reservoir tubes, four tubes to a carton. The tubes fit in any standard dispensing gun including the Nisus Blue Bait Gun.
3. Magnetic Roach Bait is a borate-based bait. What are its benefits?

First, it has one of the longest track records of any cockroach bait on the market. Baits come and go, but MRB has withstood the test of time. The food matrix is attractive to roaches, and the product is stable and will not discolor or stain surfaces that it contacts. The active ingredient, boric acid, is light and heat stable and has very low human toxicity. Finally, since there is no known resistance, expect great efficacy with no worries about a specific rotation schedule.

4. How does MRB’s active work?

Boric acid and other borates primarily target energy production, but also destroy the insect gut and cause a neurotoxic effect. Food eaten by cockroaches is broken down into glucose by enzymes, which is used as fuel (energy) for the cells. Borates prevent this process by binding directly to critical enzyme co-factors which blocks energy production. To put it simply, the insect starves to death, their gut is destroyed, and the process is aided by neuromuscular fatigue from a low-level neurotoxic action.

5. What happens when there is an abundant food supply? How do baits compete when there are multiple food choices for roaches?

This is where the bait matrix is so important. Insects seek a balance of nutrients. A bait matrix that provides a variety of the essential nutrients and food ingredients that cockroaches prefer will not only compete with existing food sources, but may become the preferred food source. A good bait matrix, along with the skill of knowing where to place the bait to make it accessible to cockroaches, will lead to improved success.

While animals and humans simply take what boron they need from their diet and excrete the excess, insects can’t. As a result, borate-based pesticides inhibit pest metabolism on a cellular level.