The exploration of environmentally friendly, less toxic, sustained-release insecticide is increasing with the growing demand for food to meet the requirements of the expanding population. As a sustained-release carrier, the unique, environmentally friendly intelligent responsive hydrogel system is an important factor in improving the efficiency of insecticide utilization and accurate release. In this study, we developed a facile approach for incorporating the natural compound rosin (dehydroabietic acid, DA) and zinc ions (Zn2+) into a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) hydrogel network to construct a controlled-release hydrogel carrier (DA-PNIPAM-Zn2+). Then, the model insecticide avermectin (AVM) was encapsulated in the carrier at a drug loading rate of 36.32% to form AVM@DA-PNIPAM-Zn2+. Surprisingly, the smart controlled carrier exhibited environmental responsiveness, strongly enhanced mechanical properties, self-healing ability, hydrophobicity, and photostability to ensure a balance between environmental friendliness and the precision of the drug release. The release experiments showed that the carboxyl and amide groups in the polymer chains alter the intermolecular forces within the hydrogel meshes and ingredient diffusion by changing temperatures (25 and 40 °C) and pH values (5.8, 7.4, and 8.5), leading to different release behaviors. The insecticidal activity of the AVM@DA-PNIPAM-Zn2+ against oriental armyworms was good, with an effective minimum toxicity toward aquatic animals. Therefore, AVM@DA-PNIPAM-Zn2+ is an effective drug delivery system against oriental armyworms. We anticipate that this ecofriendly, sustainable, smart-response carrier may broaden the utilization rosin and its possible applications in the agricultural sector.

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