Mushroom-Based Pesticide Could Make Chemical Pesticides Obsolete

This non-toxic fungus-based insecticide kills over 200,000 pesky insects without harming bees

Credit: Stuart Isett

A all-natural mushroom-based insecticide could make bee-harming neonicotinoids and most other chemical pesticides

It’s not toxic to humans, pollinators, fish, birds or any other non-targeted animal.

This is great news in light of 700 species of American bees recently joining the endangered species list, the entire Gulf coast becoming a dead zone for sea life, and the bird population of Europe freefalling to a third of what it was a few decades ago.

There’s only one catch, it has to be approved by the EPA.

Mycologist Paul Stamets has developed the “most disruptive technology the pesticide industry has ever witnessed” simply by “training” mushrooms to sporulate later, after they’ve been eaten by pesky insects.

He patented two insecticides in 2006 — one for carpenter ants, fire ants and termites, and another for 200,000 other types of insects — using special mushrooms he developed.

Normally mushroom spores repel insects, but Stamets’ mushrooms attract the insects to eat them before they sporulate, and then sporulate and sprout inside of them, right through the insects’ bodies.

According to Stamets, after insects eat the fungi, they “become mummified” and a “mushroom pops out of their head.”

Cordyceps fungus takes over brain of an ant, then kills it, Peru

“This is the most disruptive technology — I’ve been told by executives of the pesticide industry — that they have ever witnessed,” Stamets said in a Ted Talk. “It could totally revamp the pesticide industry.”

”It’s been called an Alexander Graham Bell patent.”

Stamets is also the founder of Fungi Perfecti, a company that offers mushroom products from all-natural insect repellent to mushroom tea to MycoGrow, a product that reduces the need for fertilizer and helps plants grow faster.

His patented non-GMO mushrooms have recently been approved by the USDA for use in food handling facilities, and found by the agency to be not harmful to bees, fish, pollinators, non-targeted insect species or humans.

The only remaining obstacle between the pesticide that could “save the world” and the market is the EPA. And because the mushrooms stand to put so many pesticide companies out of business, that approval could be a long time coming.

RELATED: Mushrooms Can Eat Plastic, Petroleum and CO2, Plus 3 Other Ways they Can Save the World






32 responses to “Mushroom-Based Pesticide Could Make Chemical Pesticides Obsolete”

  1. robert wheeler Avatar
    robert wheeler

    Mushrooms good, EPA bad, WTF EPA???

    1. David Ocame Avatar
      David Ocame

      Scott Pruitt

  2. John Stewart Avatar
    John Stewart

    Those 200,000 “pesky insects” are integral parts of the web of life. Whenever we mess with natural processes in such a wholesale manner, we pay a price for it down the road, like when glyphosate (Roundup) was introduced, and we were told how harmless it was supposed to be.

    1. Don Avatar

      And they’re still using roundup. But if they are going to use something wouldn’t this be better than toxic poisons like roundup?

      1. Tasha Avatar


    2. Toahia Avatar

      Aaaand you think Roundup is a better option?

      At least this won’t kill the pollinators or be toxic to humans.

      1. D Thomas Avatar
        D Thomas

        Roundup is a herbicide, not a pesticide. Meaning it is for killing plants not animals. The mechanism by which it does so is by preventing photosynthesis. Dunno if you have noticed but animals don’t photosynthesize.

        1. Kim Hunter Avatar
          Kim Hunter

          “Pesticide” is a blanket term used by industry for all ‘icides. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides.
          All kinds of surprises are being exposed with regards to the damage Roundup is doing to all living things including govt collusion and coverups. :'( How many suffer due to “policy” #NotRoundupReady
          Search “glyphosate toxicology studies” if you’re interested.

          “Glyphosate in urine of a generally healthy population was significantly lower than in urine from a chronically diseased population.”

          “… There are multiple pathways by which glyphosate could lead to pathology.[248] A major consideration is that our gut bacteria do have the shikimate pathway, and that we depend upon this pathway in our gut bacteria as well as in plants to supply us with the essential aromatic amino acids, tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine. Methionine, an essential sulfur-containing amino acid, and glycine, are also negatively impacted by glyphosate. Furthermore, many other biologically active molecules, including serotonin, melatonin, melanin, epinephrine, dopamine, thyroid hormone, folate, coenzyme Q10, vitamin K, and vitamin E, depend on the shikimate pathway metabolites as precursors. Gut bacteria and plants use exclusively the shikimate pathway to produce these amino acids. In part because of shikimate pathway disruption, our gut bacteria are harmed by glyphosate, as evidenced by the fact that it has been patented as an antimicrobial agent….”
          “…glyphosate has been reported to inhibit other enzymes, e.g., enzymes of the cytochrome P450 (Cyp450) family [8]. Other inhibition pathways are reported. Richard et al. [9] reported that such as glyphosate inhibits Cyp450 aromatase inhibition, indicated crucial for sex steroid hormone synthesis.

          Glyphosate also interferes with cytochrome P450 enzymes which include numerous proteins able to metabolize xenobiotics [10]. This may also act synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Recently, it was suggested that gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are associated with Western diet [11]. Furthermore, genotoxic activity [12], teratogenic activity [13], and disturbance of the normal gut bacterial community [14,15] due to glyphosate are reported. Glyphosate showed cytotoxic effects on different cells in vitro [16-18], and Barbosa et al. [19], proposed that glyphosate may have contributed to the Parkinsonism due to its chemical similarity with glycine, a co-factor required for activation of the N-methyl-d-aspartase (NMDA) receptor, which controls excitatory actions in the central nervous system and is also involved in memory and learning…”

        2. ellie Avatar

          Roundup is registered as a herbicide,pesticide and an antibiotic. Big Ag sprays it on many crops as a dessicant before harvest. It is in most foods and harms our microbiome in our gut where 70+ % of our immune system resides. Truth.

    3. Steven Cates Avatar
      Steven Cates

      Yep, good insects like mosquitoes maybe? How many millions died because they stopped using DDT and the data on that was fabricated. Look it up.

    4. Charlotte Avatar

      Spot on. You are right. The balance of nature has been so interfered with we are suffering the consequences.

    5. Tom Barber Avatar

      “BALANCE” in Nature has already been disrupted and continues on a course of IMBALANCE throughout the World. If mankind can amend that Balance favorably we can start with the removal (Displacement) of the wide range of Man-Made chemical compounds being spread over the Earth. MAN-MADE chemical compounds…..
      We believe in Paul Stamets who has devoted his life of Mycology to providing select Natural control methods as opposed to the absolute Chemical Death of every lliving species now in place. There is more than Hope to reverse course and discontinue killing Nature. Banning Chemical Pesticides is a LARGE step in that direction.

    6. Con Avatar

      Round up is a herbicide not pesticide.

      1. Andrew Dewey Avatar
        Andrew Dewey

        You are partially correct. Roundup is an herbicide which is included in the general category of pesticides. Also included as pesticides are insecticides and fungicides. My list is far from all inclusive.

    7. Michael Avatar

      I don’t think they are talking about making 200,000 in sex extinct. Just controlling the ones in your house; for example if you had an ant infestation and didn’t want to spray chemicals all over your house that were harmful to yourself and your family

      1. Paul Avatar

        Great point Michael.

    8. Antje Avatar

      Yes, even though I love the idea of replacing harmful pesticides, we don’t know the long term effects of this mushroom. It might become uncomfortable killing insects that are actually needed for ecological balance…

  3. De'Anna West Avatar
    De’Anna West

    It should not be a long time on coming. They should be put out of business! We should have more organic options available ALWAYS!

    1. David Ocame Avatar
      David Ocame

      Scott Pruitt

  4. Uncle Bob Avatar
    Uncle Bob

    It could be a wonderful product, but non-decremented killing of insects had been shown to also reek havoc on the environment. Then there is the question of reproduction of the modified mushrooms in the wild. Will it kill other species of mushroom and hiw will the insecticide mushrooms be controlled?
    Natural plant fighting species have also become near impossible to control previously. I am glad the EPA is more causious than most folks out there who sees a wonder and then just runs with it.

    1. Mindy S Avatar
      Mindy S

      Uncle Bob I agree. They clearly stated the insect eats the spore then goes of and dies from the spore growing. Which indicated to me the spore is likely leaving the area that has been treated and being spread. Then another insect comes along and eat from that patch of mushrooms, becomes infected with the spore, goes off dies some place else and there is another patch of mushrooms.
      We have to be careful with “natural” controls as well. Example would be Lake Conroe in Conroe Texas. They released grass carp as a natural control for hydrila. The carp was said to be sterile. Someone forgot to tell the carp that because they multiplied like crazy. Many years have been spent now trying to replant the lake due to loss of vegetation.

      1. Nicole Ibsen Avatar
        Nicole Ibsen

        “Paul creates the fungi by using standard tissue culture and natural selection so there are no transgenic methods being used. He also ensures that the strain he creates through this process is trained to harm only targeted insects. This is very important to Paul, he says “we do not wage war against insects. We just want to protect our homes, crops or bees without causing collateral harm to the ecosystem.” (2)”

  5. daniell h. pope, Ph.D. Avatar
    daniell h. pope, Ph.D.

    I agree with Mr. Stewart. Those “pesky insects” are important to the balance in nature. If they were not important to that balance they would likely have been eliminated by the processes of natural selection. Every time we have tried to eliminate “problem” organisms, often to grow more crops, prevent termite damage etc. we have-or will-suffer the consequences in the long run.

    1. Cheryl Brown Avatar
      Cheryl Brown

      They can live anywhere they want…except in my house.

    2. Steven Hamilton Bridgens Avatar
      Steven Hamilton Bridgens

      …and in the final analysis, extinction!

    3. Linea Avatar

      I understand how important the balance of nature is, but to use a safer alternative to the many chemical insecticides now in use seems to be the right way to control insect infestations. Mushroom-based or Malathion-based – take your pick!

  6. Susan Furnish Avatar
    Susan Furnish

    Also, Diatomaceous Clay, I’ve read is really good to kill & control certain insects, etc.

    1. Bhr Avatar

      True. Best for slugs but maybe worms as well.

    2. Malia Sander Avatar
      Malia Sander

      Susan Furnish, I BIG LIKE to your comment. The clay can not reproduce and does a wonderful job of killing roaches, ants, termites, fleas and more… More people and business need to use this simple bit of earth.

      1. Susie Avatar

        I use DE regularly in my garden & chicken coop, but wear a mask, because the dust is very dangerous to humans to breath. Dusting on a large scale could be dangerous to a lot of people.

  7. Kelly Avatar

    An all-natural*** how are you going to start your article with such a glaring grammatical error? Ugh

  8. Jon Boi Avatar
    Jon Boi

    I would agree that using man made chemicals has been a total destruction to the well being ie eco-system of Mother Earth and Man has been on the mission to form the World to their liking.

    Anything that mimics Nature is a good thing and the mushroom fungus idea might be more favorable than endocrine disruption, cancerous agents to our Children’s health. the tipping scale is way out of balance to perfecting Nature. I have used vinegar to help mitigate the use of round up, bayer, and all unforgiving herbicides.

    here in the United States and where ever else in the World abroad have had a detrimental loss to the local pollinators ie bumble bees, monarchs, many beneficial bugs, many species of birds, bats due to those pesky bugs. Just when thought it was safe the oceans are being killed off by Human Kind ignorance bliss. We have got to take back the Government ie EPA, USDA to working For The People. By The People. Of The People. and just like antibiotics that were designed to heal infections are over prescribed and over used in livestock as well. the over use of herbicides and pesticides in big Ag has caused a rip in the precious ecosystem in which we must live to protect. it is dire to plant gardens not war. the creation of GE crops ie corn,soy,wheat,sorghum,sugar beets,canola,potatoes,squash, zucchini,fruit such as papaya,apples to name a few. the list is extensive and without much as a single test plot in the real world before letting loose of the flood gate to the now problem of pesticide resistant insects, to herbicide resistant weeds in crop land and also in the application in grass land prairies to control canadian musk thistle, pesky weed and wild fire fuel of cedar trees.