Imidacloprid is known as a neonicotinoid, which is part of a category of neuro-active insecticides that are based upon the properties of nicotine (in tobacco). This chemical is perhaps better known by one of its many brand names including: Admire, Advantage, Advocate, Confidor, Gaucho, Hachikusan, Kohinor, Premise, Provado, Prothor, and Winner. It is widely marketed as a broad spectrum form of pest control, and when used as a spray is considered to be quite effective for the control of fleas, cockroaches, and termites.
Imidacloprid has been gaining a bit of popularity in the world of extermination because it is considered to have a low level of toxicity to most types of living organisms (other than insects). This is due to the fact that the chemical works on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor of the brain; this receptor is found more readily in the insect nervous system as well as in some zooplankton, than in any other type of animals except for fish and earthworms.
Because of this fact, it is possible to use lower concentrations of the chemical for adequate insect control, as opposed to other types of neurotoxins, especially organophosphates. This has allowed Imidacloprid to be commonly used in flea control treatments for pets, control of certain types of lawn destroying larvae, and the elimination and prevention of termites.
Even though Imidacloprid is considered to be fairly safe, it is actually categorized as “moderately toxic” to humans, and is classified as a class II or III pesticide requiring a “caution” or “warning” label. It is also listed as a potential ground water contaminant. It is a Group E chemical, which means it is an “unlikely carcinogen”.
There is no documentation (to date) as to Imidacloprid causing endocrine, developmental, or reproductive harm, and this chemical is so far not banned, illegal, cancelled, or restricted in most countries. France, however, has banned the use of Imidacloprid for crop use in 1999 due to the potential harm it may pose for honeybee populations.
Imidacloprid has been in the spotlight a great deal in regard to honeybee harm, and has been listed as a possible contributing factor to colony collapse disorder (CCD). Colony collapse disorder is still not completely understood, but results in mass deaths of honeybees all around the world. This has put food crops in a bit of danger as pollination levels have dropped off drastically. While more research is needed to fully understand this issue, systemic pesticides, such as Imidacloprid, do stay in vegetation for a good amount of time. Therefore, this can pose many potential problems for the beneficial insects that feed upon and pollinate these plants.