It is understandable to be crestfallen at news of the upcoming withdrawal of the extremely important insecticide, Ficam® W (dates to be confirmed), but could this be the bolt from the blue that benefits the pest control industry?

To use a famous quote ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, the unfolding situation may stimulate and shake-up ideas in the public health pest control industry.

Perhaps we will see a race from manufacturers, to attempt to fill the void of popular products, with a drive towards new formulation technology that enhances the effects of existing active ingredients while minimising environmental and health risks?

Pest Control News contacted the Killgerm Chemicals technical department, to ask for their take on the upcoming withdrawal of Ficam® W and the following is based on their thoughts.

Just before we proceed, remember that we’ve been here before and survived, from Empire 20 to Demand® CS via Stingray. It’s an enormous disappointment when excellent products are faced with withdrawal but not quite ‘the end of pest control as we know it’.

What just happened?

The press release from Bayer:

Bayer are disappointed to announce after significant investment in time and money on the resubmission of Ficam W that it is to be removed from the market, following a vote from the EU Biocide commission.

Alan Morris, Bayer head of environmental science, explains that the industry can expect an update in the coming weeks with regards to sell-out and use-up dates of Ficam W.

“It‘s expected that there will be a 180 day sell-out period for manufacturers and distributors, followed by a 180 day use-up period for pest controllers, but the Bayer Pest Solutions team will keep the industry informed on all of the latest updates,” says Alan.

“Ultimately, this product is a big loss to the industry after offering successful pest control for over 40 years. This is another reason why Bayer constantly invest in research and development of new chemistry, to continue to deliver solutions to our customers for the future,” he adds.

Alan explains that Bayer have recently launched an alternative solution which will cover most scenarios where Ficam W would have been used.

“Our newly launched product, K-Othrine Partix is a broad-spectrum insecticide providing 12-week residual control of a broad spectrum of pests. The state-of-the-art formulation technology has allowed us to reduce the active substance levels in the treatment environment while still offering a high level of control,” he concludes.

This decision does not affect the reapproval of Ficam D.

What alternatives do we have?

Novel formulations are now available
A feature of Ficam W is the residual formulation and suitability for porous surfaces such as brickwork.

It is timely then that Bayer have released K-Othrine Partix, a residual suspension concentrate suitable for porous surfaces, based on a novel formulation involving carnauba wax. The natural wax further reduces the environmental impact following application while also protecting the active from degradation, UV light and moisture which helps to provide better residual control. The product can be effective for up to 12 weeks when controlling general insects and up to eight weeks for bed bugs and spiders. Furthermore, this novel formulation has particles 10 times the size of typical insecticides, so the application remains on the surface increasing bioavailability and contact to the pest, allowing more effective residual control. This increased particle size means it provides a much more consistent performance on absorbent surfaces such as wood and concrete, resulting in increased product efficacy. This avoids a problem of smaller particles getting lost in microscopic gaps on surfaces. Aside from the formulation, K-Othrine Partix is based on the ‘top end’ highly-effective 4th generation pyrethroid Deltamethrin, which provides broad-spectrum control of a range of pests in many areas of use.

Resistance management is still possible
A huge benefit of Ficam® W is its use in resistance management, thanks to the different mode of action versus the many pyrethroids on the market. Naturally, there is concern regarding resistance management in bedbug control. However, evidence from Australia shows an intermediate level of resistance to the active ingredient in Ficam® W in selected bedbug populations, so no product is ‘resistance proof’. Furthermore, data from London shows similar resistance issues to Ficam® W in bedbug populations.

It is expected that alternative products will come to the fore in terms of resistance management, such as those containing insect growth regulators (IGRs), with options for physical control including immobilisation and temperature.

Physical mode of action products coming to the fore
Under the radar somewhat is the recent introduction of a ‘molecular mesh’ / ‘sprayable entrapping’ product, for insect control, described as a resistance-breaking and novel technique that causes external immobilisation of target species. The drawbacks, of direct application being required and no residuality, are outweighed by the significant benefits. Crucially the ‘molecular mesh’ works purely by physical means (by external immobilization) and, as confirmed by the Health and Safety Executive, falls outside of the definition of biocidal products and therefore the requirements of the Biocidal Products Regulations. What this means, in practice, is a degree of flexibility in application including treatment against a broad range of arthropod pests across many areas of use. Vazor® Provecta is the name.

Another option for insect control is the use of aerosol freezing sprays, such as Vazor® Ice and similar, that work by lowering the temperature of the treated insects to below their tolerable threshold. While a freezing aerosol may not always be suitable for an entire treatment, there is a place for these products especially for spot treatments in sensitive situations to supplement other control measures.

Other wettable powders and sachet products still exist
If the wettable powder aspect of Ficam® W is key, remember that Cytrol Forte® WP is available. Yes, ‘WP’ stands for wettable powder! Another benefit of Ficam® W is the comprehensive label, with many areas of use and a vast list of target species listed. Cytrol Forte WP has a similarly comprehensive label: ‘For professional use in and around domestic and industrial establishments, hospitals (not in occupied wards), Military areas, restaurants and eateries (not for use on food preparation areas), stores, storage areas, slaughter houses, refuse tips, dustbins and around manure heaps. For use on soft furnishings, and hard horizontal and vertical surfaces where pests may rest, with the exception of food preparation surfaces. For use against cockroaches, fleas, ants, bedbugs, silverfish, woodlice, earwigs, millipedes, centipedes, houseflies, clusterflies, mosquitoes and wasps.’ If the sachet feature of Ficam® W was a main reason for use, i.e. convenience, there are of course other insecticides on the market that utilise the sachet presentation.

More new insecticides are on the horizon
Fans of Syngenta’s Advion® cockroach bait will be interested to know that a sprayable indoxacarb based product, Advion® WDG, is available in certain parts of the world. This is certainly ‘one to watch’ for the future in terms of the UK. Indoxacarb benefits include the ‘reduced risk’ classification as applied by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States, and the novel mode of action that breaks pyrethroid resistance. It is also worth noting that Indoxacarb is non-repellent, another well-known feature of Ficam® W. Finally, keep an eye out for an ‘encore’ for Demand® CS!

Seek technical support
There are of course many other control options and this article is by no means an exhaustive examination of alternatives, with heat treatment being a notable and underrated alternative that should be considered.

At a potentially difficult and confusing time, regarding changes to familiar insecticides, it is important to contact highly qualified and experienced technical advisors to help guide you through this period. With six technical advisors and a dedicated in-house entomologist having vast insect knowledge at Killgerm Chemicals UK, boasting more than a combined 165 years of experience in insect biology and control, you know who to trust for unbiased and reliable technical support when you need it most.