Imidacloprid, the world’s leading insecticide, has been approved recently for controlling infectious disease vectors; yet, in agricultural settings, it has been implicated in the frightening decline of pollinators. This argues for strategies that sharply reduce the environmental impact of imidacloprid. When used as a contact insecticide, the effectiveness of imidacloprid relies on physical contact between its crystal surfaces and insect tarsi. Herein, seven new imidacloprid crystal polymorphs are reported, adding to two known forms. Anticipating that insect uptake of imidacloprid molecules would depend on the respective free energies of crystal polymorph surfaces, measurements of insect knockdown times for the metastable crystal forms were as much as nine times faster acting than the commercial form againstAedes, Anopheles, andCulexmosquitoes as well asDrosophila(fruit flies). These results suggest that replacement of commercially available imidacloprid crystals (a.k.a. Form I) in space-spraying with any one of three new polymorphs, Forms IV, VI, IX, would suppress vector-borne disease transmission while reducing environmental exposure and harm to nontarget organisms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry