Malathion is a toxic pesticide used to control aphids, spider mites and a wide range of insects that chew and suck on plants. It interferes with the nervous systems of insects, suppresses their ability to breathe properly and is toxic to humans who come into contact with it, inhale it or consume it. The recommended period for consuming fruits after applying malathion is based on correct application methods and rates that vary for different fruits and are printed on the manufacturer's label.
Although the body typically gets rid of malathion quickly, exposed persons have experienced headaches, vomiting, cramps, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, tremors, slowed heartbeat, shortness of breath and diarrhea. People who apply it may experience symptoms if they do not wear masks, goggles and protective clothing. If you inhale malathion or come into contact with it, wash the area for 15 minutes, discard contaminated clothing and contact the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Fruit treated with malathion should not be harvested until the manufacturer's suggested waiting period has passed and its harmful potential has dissipated.
Wait one day before harvesting fruit after you apply malathion on blackberries (Rubus fruticosis), logenberries (Rubus × loganobaccus) and boysenberries (Rubus ursinus × idaeus), all grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10, depending on the species and cultivar. A one-day wait is required for raspberries (Rubus idaeus, USDA zones 2 through 7), blueberries in the genus Cyanococcus, (USDA zones 3 through 7), pears in the genus Pyrus (USDA zones 3 through 10) and apples (Malus domestica, USDA zones 3 through 8).
Wait three days before harvesting fruit after you apply malathion on cherries in the Prunus genus, USDA zones 4 through 7, and citrus fruit in the Citrus genus, USDA zones 8 through 10, including grapefruit (Citrus × paradise), lemons (Citrus × limon), limes (Citrus x latifolia), oranges (Citrus × sinensis), tangerines (Citrus tangerine) and kumquats (Citrus japonica).
Wait seven days before harvesting fruit after you apply malathion on apricots (Prunus armeniaca), USDA zones 4 through 9, and peaches (Prunus persica), USDA zones 5 through 8.
- Bonide: Malathion Label
- National Pesticide Information Center: Malathion Technical Fact Sheet
- Extension Toxicology Network: Malathion
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Malathion Poisoning
- Old Farmer's Almanac: Blackberries
- Old Farmer’s Almanac: Raspberries
- Old Farmer’s Almanac: Blueberries
- Old Farmer’s Almanac: Pears
- Old Farmer’s Almanac: Apples
- Old Farmer’s Almanac: Cherries
- Old Farmer’s Almanac: Citrus
- Treebrowser.org: Prunus Armeniaca
- Old Farmer’s Almanac: Peaches