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Pyrethrin vs. Permethrin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 21, 2024
Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers, while permethrin is a synthetic chemical similar to pyrethrin but more stable and longer-lasting.

Key Differences

Pyrethrin is an organic compound extracted from chrysanthemum flowers, used as a natural insecticide. Permethrin, on the other hand, is a synthetic chemical that mimics the insecticidal properties of pyrethrin but is more stable under sunlight and air.
Pyrethrin is biodegradable and breaks down rapidly in the environment, which minimizes long-term environmental impact. Permethrin, being synthetic, is more persistent in the environment and can remain effective for longer periods.
The natural origin of pyrethrin often makes it a preferred choice for organic farming and gardening. In contrast, permethrin’s synthetic nature and longevity make it suitable for use in textiles, like mosquito-repellent clothing.
Pyrethrin acts quickly against insects but degrades rapidly, especially in sunlight. Permethrin, while also effective against a broad range of insects, retains its effectiveness over time and is less susceptible to environmental degradation.
Pyrethrin is a fast-acting, environmentally friendly insecticide with limited longevity, while permethrin offers a more durable, synthetic alternative with broader applications but greater environmental persistence.

Comparison Chart


Natural, from chrysanthemum flowers

Environmental Impact

Biodegradable, minimal long-term impact
More persistent, can remain active longer


Organic farming, natural pest control
Textile treatments, long-term pest control


Less stable, degrades quickly in sunlight
More stable, resistant to environmental factors


Fast-acting but short-lived effectiveness
Effective over a longer period

Pyrethrin and Permethrin Definitions


Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide derived from flowers.
The garden spray contained pyrethrin to control aphids.


Permethrin is more stable and lasts longer than pyrethrin.
The permethrin spray provided prolonged protection.


Pyrethrin quickly degrades in the environment.
Pyrethrin is ideal for short-term pest control.


Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide similar to pyrethrin.
Permethrin-treated nets are used to prevent mosquito bites.


Pyrethrin is effective against a wide range of insects.
She used pyrethrin to eliminate the flea infestation.


Permethrin remains effective after sun exposure.
Permethrin-treated fabrics retain their insect repellent properties.


Pyrethrin is a biodegradable insecticide.
Pyrethrin was chosen for its minimal environmental impact.


It's used in textiles for long-lasting insect protection.
His hiking gear was treated with permethrin for tick prevention.


It's used in organic gardening for pest management.
Organic farmers often prefer pyrethrin for its natural origin.


Permethrin is used for sustained pest control.
Permethrin is commonly used in public health mosquito control programs.


Either of two viscous liquid esters, C21H28O3 or C22H28O5, that are extracted from pyrethrum flowers and used as insecticides.


A synthetic pyrethroid, C21H20Cl2O3, used as an agricultural, industrial, and residential insecticide, to treat scabies and head lice in humans, and to control fleas and ticks in dogs.


(organic compound) Any of a number of naturally occurring insecticides extracted from the pyrethrum plant; unusual in having a cyclopropane ring.


A synthetic insecticide, C21H20Cl2O3, used to treat head lice, nits, scabies, and in flea collars.


A substance resembling, and isomeric with, ordinary camphor, and extracted from the essential oil of feverfew; - called also Pyrethrum camphor.


Is permethrin biodegradable?

Less so than pyrethrin; it's more persistent.

What is pyrethrin?

A natural insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers.

How quickly does pyrethrin break down?

Rapidly, especially in sunlight.

What is permethrin?

A synthetic chemical insecticide similar to pyrethrin.

Can pyrethrin be used in organic farming?

Yes, it's suitable for organic agriculture.

Does pyrethrin have a strong environmental impact?

It has minimal long-term environmental impact due to its biodegradability.

Does pyrethrin pose health risks?

When used as directed, it's generally safe, though some may have sensitivities.

What are the primary uses of permethrin?

In textiles and for long-term pest control.

Is pyrethrin safe for indoor use?

Generally, yes, but follow specific product guidelines.

How long does permethrin remain effective?

It can remain effective for several weeks or months.

Can permethrin-treated clothing be washed?

Yes, but it may reduce effectiveness over time.

Is pyrethrin effective against bed bugs?

It can be, but often in combination with other methods.

Are there any resistance issues with pyrethrin?

Some insects can develop resistance to it.

Can permethrin be used in aquatic environments?

Caution is needed as it can be toxic to aquatic life.

Can permethrin be used on pets for flea control?

Yes, but it's important to use pet-specific formulations.

How is permethrin applied in public health?

Often in mosquito control programs and in impregnated materials.

Is pyrethrin safe for bees?

It can be harmful, so it should be used carefully around pollinators.

What pests is pyrethrin effective against?

A wide range, including aphids, fleas, and mosquitoes.

Is permethrin safe for garden use?

It can be used, but it's important to consider its longer-lasting nature.

What forms does permethrin come in?

Sprays, impregnated materials, and liquid formulations for various uses.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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