Review of restricted use pesticides and applicator licenses

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As the 2023 field season gets into full swing, now is a good time for a refresher on restricted use pesticides (RUPs) and pesticide applicator licenses.

There are lots of ways to categorize pesticides, one of which is general use versus restricted use. In short, a general-use pesticide is one that can be used without any special training. A RUP, on the other hand, should only be used by an individual who is a certified pesticide applicator or is under the direct supervision of a certified pesticide applicator. RUPs are classified as such due to their potential to cause ‘unreasonable adverse effects’ on the environment, the applicator, or bystanders if appropriate precautions are not taken when using the product. Some RUPs you may be familiar with are listed in Table 1.


Table 1. Various restricted use pesticides (RUPs) listed by active ingredient and product name if applicable.

Active ingredient

Example product




Aatrex 4L


Balance Flexx

paraquat dichloride

Gramoxone, Firestorm


Tordon 22K, Grazon P + D




Warrior II, Karate, Silencer


Lorsban, Duraguard


Sniper, Brigade, Capture


Reality, Pounce, Ambush




Mustang, Stallion



triphenyltin hydroxide

 Agri Tin Flowable


Private applicator versus commercial applicator licenses

There are two types of certifications that will allow you to use a RUP. A private applicator license allows you to use or supervise the use of a restricted use pesticide to produce an agricultural commodity on property owned or rented by you or your employer. However, a commercial license is needed if you are going to apply pesticides on someone else’s property and charge a fee for the service. You can contact your local Extension office if you need to obtain or renew an applicator's license.

Also remember, there are some extra record-keeping requirements for individuals who apply RUPs. There is no standard form, but within two weeks of the application, you should document what was sprayed, including:

  • the date and location of the application,
  • product name and EPA registration number,
  • total amount applied and area treated,
  • the site to which the application was made, and
  • the name and certification number of the applicator.


The use of trade names is for clarity to readers and does not imply endorsement of a particular product, nor does exclusion imply non-approval. Always consult the herbicide label for the most current use requirements.


Frannie Miller, Pesticide Safety and IPM Coordinator

Sarah Lancaster, Extension Weed Science Specialist

Tags:  herbicide application commercial applicator pesticides