pyrethrin, feverfew, bees, other insects

patricianatMarch 16, 2008

I know that pyrethrin comes from daisy and since feverfew is a daisy or chrysanthemum, it contains pyrethrin. So, does the pyrethrin have to be extracted from the plant to work as an insecticide? I have seen no diminution in the numbers of thrips and aphids in my garden since I have feverfew growing, nor have I noticed less bees, but I am told by an agriculture professor that feverfew could cause my bee population to decrease since bees do not like it, not necessarily, he says, kill them.

Where is Mike Rivers on this?

(Just added some trivia here for your Sunday smiles. Flirtwort? It was surely named such by a married man who had fathered the child of a single woman, you think?)

Feverfew contains a number of toxins, terpenes, and is one of several sources of the insecticide, pyrethrum. Pyrethrum or pyrethron comes from the Greek, pyre, meaning fire. Medieval medicine classified a plant's use by 'temperature' and 'moisture'. In 1597, John Gerard said of this plant, "Feverfew doth manifestly heat, it is hot in the third degree, and drie in the second; it clenseth, purgeth, or scoureth, openeth and fully performeth all that bitter things can do." (The Herbal, 1633 ed.)

Gerard reiterated the ancient use of feverfew, "Dioscorides [first century]...teacheth, that it is profitably applied to Saint Anthonies fire, to all hot inflammations, and hot swellings, if it be laid unto, both leaves and floures....that the pouder of Feverfew drunke with Oxymell, or syrup of Vineger, or wine...draweth away flegme and is good for them that are giddie in the head....for such as be melancholike, sad, pensive, and without speech."

Feverfew was mainly considered a feminine remedy and called Matricaria for its action upon the matrix or womb. In the 'polite' language of the Sixteenth Century, Gerard wrote of its use as an abortifacient, "It is a great remedie against the diseases of the matrix (unwed motherhood); it procureth womens sicknes with speed; it bringeth forth the afterbirth and the dead childe, whether it bee drunke in a decoction, or boiled in a bath...." Women were taking an insecticide internally and this use was alluded to in another common name, flirtwort.

Henriette's Herbal plant photos has a great photograph of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Sch.-Bip). To view the photograph, click on the link:

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I did not mean to say I had noticed less bees, but that I have not noticed fewer bees. I'm tired. I got up too early. I am going back to bed.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 5:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know the answer Patricia, but I grow a lot of feverfew (just like how it looks in tha garden and with roses) and I have plenty of insects of all types (good and bad).

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 8:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know either Patricia.

But I do know that I have not seen ANY bees so far and I didn't see but one or two last or two!!
I do believe the poor bees are being decimated by something.
I have garlic all in my rose beds. I have noticed less aphids and less BS on my roses.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 10:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

The pyrethrum has to be extracted, and not just from any old daisy. There are specific species used to make the insecticide.

There are a number of things that are affecting honeybee populations, and there are flowers that are poisonous to them. I know that the California buckeye, for one, kills larval bees when honey from its nectar is fed to them, but it doesn't affect the adults collecting the nectar. The bees don't know this because they are European natives and have not lived around CA buckeye long enough to figure out the connection yet. Feverfew could have a similar action, I don't know, but it does come from the same part of the world that honeybees come from so you'd think they'd be adapted to it ...

Insecticide use is very bad for bees - not just yours, but all your neighbors too. There are various epidemics among bee hives too, varroa mite for one, and a virus from Australia for another. Plus, there are fewer and fewer bee keepers as people migrate indoors more and more and spend less time gardening and farming. Around here, honeybees need beekeepers as the climate is not conducive to wild honeybee colonies surviving for long.

Plus fear of bee stings and bee allergies drives people to kill bee colonies for one, and to avoid planting flowers that bees like for another. Bees love clover, but so many people use weed killers on their lawns specifically to kill off the clover so there wont' be any bees on the lawn. What's a poor bee supposed to do??

Bees love the daisy flowers, and I've never noticed a connection between daisy flowers and bee mortality. I used to be married to someone from a family of beekeepers and I would have heard about it if daisies were a problem for bees.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 12:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So there is more to debunk in scientific studies if one scientist says pyrethrin from daisies/chrystanthemums kill bees or keep them at bay and no one has witnessed that. Is all our science becoming junk science?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 2:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was told to boil the plant make a spray or dip for pets

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 11:55PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Deja Blu vs Dr. John Dickman
I have and like very much Deja Blu. It looks similar...
Maryl zone 7a
Crazy about Rose Buds!
There are times during this new season of roses that...
Rose Rosette video lecture, City of Allen, Texas
Is it just me or is RU shipping really late this year?
Now, I will admit that I didn't place my order until...
Some new roses
My rose bushes have a lot of buds and are about to...
dan8_gw (Northern California Zone 9A)
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™