Insect growth regulators are a relatively new type of insect control materials that are primarily aimed are the development of safer alternatives to conventional insecticides, while also reducing resistances of insects to manmade insect control agents. These materials are primarily used to stop immature insects from successfully growing into healthy adults.

Insect growth regulators are being used extensively in food storage activities, which can be mainly attributed to the high efficacy in controlling pests and other insects that can have adverse impact on food reserves. The introduction of sustainable variants of insect growth regulators are rapidly gaining traction in the industry, with the objective of selectively culling only harmful insect populations, while leaving benign species unaffected.

The worldwide market for insect growth regulators is projected to display a moderate CAGR of ~ 4 per cent during the forecast period from 2019 to 2027. This increased use of regulators can be attributed to rising global temperatures, which are conducive for population spurts of insects, especially pests such as mosquitoes and fleas.

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Vector Disease Control Plays Key Role in Adoption 

Insect growth regulators are a widespread group of chemical compounds which display high effectiveness against mosquito larvae and other pest insect species. In most cases insect growth regulators do not have a substantial impact on other types of animal or plant life including fish, birds, and invertebrates, and are also safe to animals and people.

Further, the use of insect growth regulators does not affect the mortality of insect populations immediately, but normally carries out its functions over a prolonged period of time. This is a key feature which promotes the use of such agents, as insect which are vector hosts of pathogens are often food sources for wildlife and fish. These benefits of using insect growth regulators and the efficacy against target insect species will bolster its use in vector control programs for the future.

Environment Concerns Drive up Use of Plant Based Agents

Insect growth regulators known as juvenile hormone analogs or juvenoids, primarily function by copying insect hormones. In addition, researchers have also managed to identify natural compounds present in plants which counteract insect hormones, which are known as juvenile hormone antagonists.

Scientists have managed to identify thousands of such plants, and the compounds which have displayed efficacy against specific species of insects, including those, which potentially include insects that are vector carriers for pathogens, by targeting the development of ovaries, thereby controlling insect populations for the long term.

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For instance, juvenile hormone antagonists from two plants have been found to be effective against the larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Alexander Raikhel, a researcher from UC Riverside Stated:  “Our experiments showed that these five JHANs are effective against yellowfever mosquitoes,” said Alexander Raikhel, a distinguished professor of entomology at UC Riverside. “Our Korean collaborators, led by Sang Woon Shin at Seoul National University, are testing the effect of these five molecules on other agricultural pests. These newly-discovered natural molecules could lead to the development of a new class of safe and effective pesticides to control mosquitoes and, we expect, other agricultural pests.”

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