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Washington State University entomologist Dr. Doug Walsh is worried about a trend he is seeing in pesticide registrations of new compound materials, a trend he believes could disrupt the balance of ecological systems. What Walsh finds alarming is a move by some chemical companies that are going to a "custom blend" of two or more insecticides as a way to improve the product but also make it harder for other companies to compete when ­pesticides go off patent.

He explained that because of the length of time it takes for registration approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there is frequently only a short window when the material is under patent. Companies have found that combining two or more of their pesticides into a new blend can help extend the life of patented products.

He pointed out that Syngenta recently registered Endigo, a blend of Warrior (cyhalothrin) and Actara (thiamethoxam) insecticides, while Bayer Crop Science released Leverage, a blend of Provado (imidacloprid) and Baythroid (cyfluthrin). Though these chemicals target cotton and potatoes, similar blends will be coming for wine grapes, he said.

"The labels cover a laundry list of insects that they can control," he said. "But the bad news here is that you’ve got pyrethroids in the mix as well. With the pyrethroids, I think there’s great potential for having secondary outbreaks of spider mites and what not. These types of insecticides will really throw your balance of the ecological system off fast."