Sevin dust for plants

Updated February 21, 2017

The garden product Sevin Dust is a dust that a gardener shakes out directly from the bottle with no preparation necessary. The powder is a light brown colour and has a faint chemical smell. According to the U.S. marketer, gardeners have used Sevin since the 1960s. The dust is toxic to insects, who eat it and die, but it does not penetrate the plant tissue.


The active ingredient of Sevin dust is a chemical called carbaryl. This is also known as 1-napthyl N-methyl carbamate. The dust product contains 5 per cent of this material. Other ingredients in Sevin dust are kaolin clay, which makes up to 5 per cent of the dust, Mica in a concentration of up to 24 percent and pyrophyllite, which constitutes more than 35 per cent of the bottle.


Sevin dust is an insecticide, specifically for use outdoors to kill insects. As of June 2011, GardenTech, who markets Sevin brand products, states that Sevin dust tackles more insect types than any other brand with a similar action. The kinds of insects that the dust targets are grubs in lawns in spring and autumn; tent caterpillars in shrubs and trees; and beetles, worms and other insects. The marketer recommends Sevin dust for vegetable plants and fruit trees that suffer from beetles and worms, and also for beetle or other insect problems on ornamental and vegetable plants. The dust is not suitable for indoor use.

Legal Status

The active ingredient in Sevin dust, carbaryl, is banned in the United Kingdom and has been since 2001, after a review of the safety of organophosphate acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors and carbamate, of which carbaryl is one. Therefore, Sevin dust is an illegal product in the country.


According to the UK Chemicals Regulation Directorate division of the Health and Safety Executive, the data on carbaryl is not sufficient to prove safety. The Material Safety Data Sheet for the Sevin Dust product itself states that long-term ingestion of the chemical is carcinogenic to mammals and can also affect the development of some animals. The product is also extremely toxic to invertebrates (animals without a spinal column) that live in water. A human can develop lung injuries if he inhales a lot of the dust and will become ill if he ingests it. The dust also irritates the eyes and skin in high quantities, and can cause conditions such as pneumoconiosis. The product is not flammable and is stable at ambient conditions.

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About the Author

Jillian O'Keeffe has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her work appears in regional Irish newspapers including "The Connacht Tribune" and the "Sentinel." O'Keeffe has a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from University College Cork.