Pesticide Use In Australia

Pesticide Use In Australia – A Look At Past, Current and Future Trends

Pesticide use in Australia has been increasing from early 1990s to-date. This has brought about numerous benefits to urban as well as rural settings due to the fact that dangerous and annoying creatures have been kept under control. But there have been challenges as well. Cases of pests becoming resistant to chemicals and concerns about the environmental impact of this activity have triggered several debates.

The fact however remains, a wide presence of professionals who help administer pesticides professional has played a big role in the improvement of quality of life. Some of the pests that invade Australian homes from time to time have the potential to cause serious negative effects not only to the concerned families but also to the economy at large if not kept under control.

Which are the most dominant pests in Australia?

Although there are many different types of pests in Australia, there are a few that present the biggest headache to homeowners.


Top on that list are termites which invade at least 1 in every 4 Australian homes. These are highly destructive and are estimated to cause an average of $8,000 loss to homeowners yet no home insurance policies cover this damage. One of the most commonly used pesticides for termite extermination is Befenthrin – used in both pre-construction barriers and existing buildings.


Another common type of pest is the house mice which is active all year constantly damaging furnishings and damaging food. If left unattended to, mice can spread disease further affecting the host household. Alpha-Chloralose is considered one of the most effective ways to keep mice and other vertebrate pests under control.


Since time immemorial, cockroaches have invaded Australian homes with wall cavities and kitchens providing their perfect hideout. They often crawl out at night and feed on leftovers – this may cause a spread of disease. Boric acid and LambdaStar Ultra 9.7 are some of the recommended chemicals to get rid of roaches.


Wasps are also a common phenomenon. According to Museum Victoria Entomologist Patrick Hona, about 10 per cent of wasp nests survive through winter and thrive into spring. Each nest contains about 30,000 wasps. A generally safe way to deal with wasps is by spraying them with Yates 350g Blitzem Wasp and Nest Killer Insecticide.


In 2015, an explosion of yet another popular pest, the grasshopper, was reported in Queensland. And while grasshoppers may not sound like a bother to an urban population, swarms can destroy acres and acres of crop creating a terrible situation for farmers and town dwellers alike. Grasshoppers can be controlled by use of a concentrated spray that has been approved for organic use – Azamax (Azadirachtin) is a good example.


Although many terrifying creatures rule over the desolate plains of the Aussie Outback, very few can match the potential ferocity and horror of ants. Fire ants are particularly notorious and have even been classified as Australia’s most destructive insects. So far, over $330 million has been spent over the last 15 years in eradication efforts with little success. Ants can be exterminated by sprays like Brunnings Ant Kill and Richgro Ant Killa insecticide.

Bedbugs and Flies

Bed-bugs are yet another headache especially in backpacker-friendly suburbs. With their distant relatives – the flies – also causing a nuisance especially around hot Octobers, which provide perfect breeding conditions. Bed bug barrier powder and bed bug glue traps are commonly used to tame the bedbug menace while Talstar One is recommended for getting rid of flies.

Other common pests include:

  • Spiders
  • Rats
  • Mosquitoes
  • Textile pests

Pesticide Use in Australia

More than 8000 pesticide products are formally registered for use in Australia (25% of these being used in households and 75% in agricultural settings). Some of these can be purchased over the counter from hardware stores or supermarkets and are mainly designed for use around gardens and homes.

Professionals In Pesticides Use

Despite the fact that they can be easily accessed, this does not mean they are harmless. A good number of them are toxic and if improperly used can cause serious health effects to the user, family and the environment. As such, pesticide use in Australia is best done by professionals to maximize on the benefits and minimize on the negative effects. That being said, achieving optimal use of chemical pesticides remains a challenging resource management problem. Although frequent use of pesticides has increased standards of living and world food security, substantial challenges have been encountered.

How much do Australians spend on pesticides per year?

On average, families in Queensland reportedly spend $180 million each year controlling pests according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. However, the overall cost to Queensland’s economy could be higher than that if you factor in production losses and destruction of natural resources.

  • The average cost of eradicating termites in a typical household stands at $3,500 per infestation
  • Rodent elimination on the other hand averages at $60 per animal
  • Other types of pests cost anything from as low as $45 per week to as high as $150 per visit.

It is worth noting that, despite rising cases of pest infestation and resistance cases, the cost of eradicating pests has remained fairly competitive.

Effects of Pesticide Use In Australia

Pesticide use in Australia has from time immemorial dominated large areas of agriculture and urban areas. Consistent use of these chemicals represents a vital way to protect human life and improve productivity in households and agriculture sectors alike. Overuse and reliance on pesticides has however resulted in some insects developing resistance. This has more often than not necessitated an ever-increasing use of insecticides in an attempt to get hold of the problem.

Past Trends

For instance, in the 90s, overuse of insecticides was reported to cause resistance in cotton bollworm, a pest that almost took our cotton industry to its deathbed. Besides that, consistent use of broad spectrum pesticides (classified among the cheapest chemicals in the country), also tends to kill all the good insects. ( It’s important to remember that the impact of frequent spray of chemicals can be far-reaching and although the consequences may not be immediate, long-term effects can be dire.

The Future of Pesticide Use

Researchers are working to develop sustainable ways to households and farms from pests. The aim is to create products that are not only friendly to humans but also to the environment and other friendly insects. Recently, a research team from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture & Food Innovation came up with a forward-looking pesticide known as “BioClay”. According to AIBN, this special clay will provide wide benefits in the next decades with its application expected to expand into a wider field of local use.

Nanotechnology in Pest Control

Going forward, the trends of pesticide use in Australia are likely to take a more nanotechnological approach. This is in line with the country’s goal of becoming an environmentally sustainable and ecologically safe hub. Other trends we are likely to see going forward include:

  • Rapid growth of transgenic-crop demand
  • Further integration of chemical companies with seed and food processors
  • Increased use of generic pesticides (as chemicals go off patent)

Final Word

There is need for the members of the public to be educated on the importance of taking this kind of approach. Past trends have shown that people are reluctant to embrace new technology in pest management mainly for economic reason. That being the case, there’s need for the government and other organizations to support this vital industry through legislation.

Further Reading and Resources

You must be logged in to post a comment.