why does ammonia kill insects, spiders, etc.

Jim Steffens steffejj at a1.esvax.umc.dupont.com
Thu Apr 16 10:04:43 EDT 1998

Ammonia is toxic to insects, in large part because it stops mitochondrial
respiration.  All eukaryotes have mitochondria in their cells, where the
oxidation of metabolites ("burning" food) generates chemical energy in
usable forms.  Mitochondria have a double membrane, across which a acid
gradient is set up.  This gradient drives the synthesis of chemical energy.
 Ammonia can go back and forth across the double membrane to disrupt the
gradient.  High levels of ammonia are toxic to plants as well, but it takes
longer for the effect to be seen as yellowing and death.

Stronger ammonia will work better thand Windex for killing insects.  I use
it regularly for killing moths.

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