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Last updated date: 28th May 2024
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What is a Malathion?

Malathion is a broad-spectrum organophosphate acaricide and insecticide also known as mercaptothion, maldison, and carbophos (that is used to kill mites and ticks). Considerably less toxic to humans compared to parathion, malathion can be suited for the control of garden and household insects and is essential in the control of boll weevils, mosquitoes, lice, and fruit flies.


Malathion is given as a colourless yellow-brown liquid having a characteristic unpleasant odour. Malathion iupac id is 4004. Generally, it can be prepared by combining O and O-dimethyl phosphorothioate with diethyl maleate. It is also soluble in most of the organic solvents except paraffin hydrocarbons. Practically, it insoluble in water and is readily decomposed by alkalies. The malathion chemical acts by binding to the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) at nerve endings, causing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) to be disrupted, eventually leading to death.

Mechanism of Action

Malathion is a compound that inhibits acetylcholinesterase, which is a large family of chemicals. When this is injected into the target organism, it binds irreversibly to the serine residue in the cholinesterase enzyme's active catalytic site. The phosphoester group is then tightly bound to the cholinesterase and irreversibly deactivates the enzyme, resulting in a rapid build-up of acetylcholine at the synapse.

Production Method

Malathion can be produced by the addition of dimethyl dithiophosphoric acid to either diethyl fumarate or diethyl maleate. The compound is chiral but can be used as a racemate.

Mix Ratio for 55% Malathion for Killing Bedbugs

Generally, while malathion is considered as an exterior pesticide, there are a few formulations, which are labelled interior use, with certain label restrictions. In the U.S.A., the product is not labelled at all for the treatment of bedbugs. The other issue with malathion is the fact that, generally, it can be sold as a malathion oil emulsion and holds a nasty odour. Malathion, that being said, is still considered as an effective treatment of malathion insecticide against bedbugs that have developed a tolerance to the pyrethrin and pyrethroid in a few areas.

In the United States, the last labelled use for bedbug control happened in 1965, a time when lindane, chlordane, D.D.T., and other insecticides were in wide use. At that time, the label suggested a concentration ranging from 0.5% to 1.0%, which would be achieved by mixing a single ounce ranging from 55% with 50–100 ounces of water (also, kerosene was a listed vehicle for malathion, but certainly it should not be used inside the home).

There are many other malathion insecticides, which are considered more appropriate for bedbug control, and they should be readily available for purchases either at hardware or home supply stores. The other suggested treatment is using the ethanol diluted in water is as a topical treatment, but it kills only bedbugs which are sprayed directly with it, and after it dries, it does not have a residual effect.

Most of the websites that cover the bedbug's information recommend hiring a professional pest control company to treat the premises for bedbugs since the local populations tend to develop some resistance to chemical treatment quickly and fairly.

Malathion Uses

Let us see some of the malathion insecticide uses.

Malathion Pesticide Use

Malathion is given as a pesticide, which may be used widely in residential landscaping, agriculture, in public health pest control programs such as mosquito eradication, and also in the public recreation areas. And, in the U.S., it is known to be the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide.

In the 1980s, a malathion mixture containing corn syrup was used to battle the Mediterranean fruit fly in California and Australia. Whereas, in the United States and Canada, starting in the early 2000s, malathion was sprayed in several cities to combat the West Nile virus.

Malathion was also used over the last two decades regularly during the summer to kill mosquitoes. However, homeowners were allowed to exempt their properties in the case if they chose. Today, Winnipeg is the only major city in Canada with a program of ongoing malathion adult-mosquito-control.

Medical Use

In low doses (0.5% preparations), malathion can be used as a treatment for:

  • Body lice and head lice. Malathion is also approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of pediculosis. It is effectively claimed to kill both the adult lice and eggs, but in fact, it has been shown in the United Kingdom, studies to be only 36 percent effective on the head lice and less so on their eggs. This specific low efficiency was observed when malathion was applied to lice found on schoolchildren in the Bristol region of the United Kingdom, and it is believed by some to be caused by the lice developing resistance to malathion.

  • Scabies

Some of the preparations of malathion include Prioderm, Derbac-M, Quellada-M, and Ovide.


Malathion is more highly toxic to the bees and other aquatic invertebrates, beneficial insects, and a few species of fish, notably largemouth and bluegill bass. Also, it is of moderate toxicity to the birds.

FAQs on Malathion

1. What is Malathion Insecticide Used for?

Answer: Malathion is given as a man-made organophosphate insecticide, which is commonly used to control mosquitoes and a variety of insects, which attack vegetables, fruits, shrubs, and landscaping plants. Also, it can be found in the other pesticide products that are used indoors and on pets to control insects and ticks, such as ants and fleas.

2. How to Kill Bedbugs?

Answer: To kill bedbugs in a natural manner, try some essential malathion oils; use either dried or fresh eucalyptus, mint, lavender, and rosemary around your house; Sprinkle a few pesticide grades diatomaceous earth around the rooms and in doorways or windows sills.

3. Give Some Signs of Bed Bug Infestation?

Answer: Some Signs of Bed Bug Infestation can be given as Dark or black stains - on the mattress and the surrounding area from bed bug excreta; Sweet scent, which is a sweet, unpleasant, sickly scent; small dark spots, which means some small dark blood spots on the bedding called 'faecal pellets'; Blood spots - on the mattress or sheets.

4. What are the Lethal Pesticide Effects on the Body?

Answer: It is recommended for organophosphate poisoning. Organophosphate is a pesticide that ate fairly common and can be found on farms across the world. A few of the trade names we might have heard are malathion, diazinon, or Parathion. These are close relatives of the nerve agents, like Saran gas. When exposed to these agents, it causes a cholinergic cascade and also produces salivating, tearing, diarrhoea, vomiting, agitation, muscle spasms, arrhythmias, difficulty breathing, and finally, death.