[X] CLOSEMAIN MENU

  • Archives

  • Categories

    • air pollution (2)
    • Announcements (586)
    • Antibiotic Resistance (26)
    • Antimicrobial (8)
    • Aquaculture (27)
    • Aquatic Organisms (22)
    • Bats (3)
    • Beneficials (40)
    • Biofuels (6)
    • Biological Control (19)
    • Biomonitoring (34)
    • Birds (14)
    • btomsfiolone (1)
    • Bug Bombs (1)
    • Canada (10)
    • Cannabis (27)
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (8)
    • Children (54)
    • Children/Schools (228)
    • cicadas (1)
    • Climate (1)
    • Climate Change (53)
    • Clover (1)
    • compost (1)
    • contamination (111)
    • Disinfectants & Sanitizers (10)
    • Drift (2)
    • Drinking Water (2)
    • Emergency Exemption (2)
    • Environmental Justice (135)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (283)
    • Events (82)
    • Farm Bill (10)
    • Farmworkers (152)
    • fish (6)
    • Forestry (5)
    • Fracking (4)
    • Fungicides (12)
    • Goats (2)
    • Golf (11)
    • Greenhouse (1)
    • Groundwater (2)
    • Health care (32)
    • Herbicides (8)
    • Holidays (29)
    • Household Use (5)
    • Indigenous People (1)
    • Infectious Disease (2)
    • Integrated and Organic Pest Management (62)
    • International (345)
    • Invasive Species (30)
    • Label Claims (47)
    • Lawns/Landscapes (214)
    • Litigation (316)
    • Livestock (5)
    • Metabolites (2)
    • Microbiata (10)
    • Microbiome (9)
    • Nanosilver (2)
    • Nanotechnology (54)
    • National Politics (386)
    • Occupational Health (2)
    • Pesticide Drift (144)
    • Pesticide Efficacy (2)
    • Pesticide Mixtures (2)
    • Pesticide Regulation (707)
    • Pesticide Residues (160)
    • Pets (25)
    • Plant Incorporated Protectants (1)
    • Poisoning (4)
    • Preemption (25)
    • President-elect Transition (2)
    • Repellent (1)
    • Resistance (97)
    • Rodenticide (26)
    • Seeds (3)
    • synergistic effects (7)
    • Synthetic Pyrethroids (8)
    • Take Action (505)
    • Textile/Apparel/Fashion Industry (1)
    • Toxic Waste (6)
    • Wildlife/Endangered Sp. (387)
    • Women’s Health (5)
    • Wood Preservatives (25)
    • World Health Organization (4)
  • Most Viewed Posts

Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Beneficials' Category


08
Apr

Invertebrates and Plants Face Increasing Threat from Pesticide Use, Despite Declining Chemical Use Patterns

Pesticide use threatens aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates and plants more than ever, despite declining chemical use and implementation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the U.S., according to a University Koblenz-Landau, Germany study. Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), many environmental agencies have banned the use of pesticides like organochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates for their devastating toxic—sometimes lethal—effects, particularly on vertebrates, including humans. However, this ban created a pathway for a new generation of pesticides (e.g., neonicotinoids, pyrethroids) to take hold. Although these pesticides are more target-specific, requiring lower chemical concentrations for effectiveness, they have over double the toxic effects on invertebrates, like pollinators.  Invertebrates and plants are vital for ecosystem function, offering various services, from decomposition to supporting the food web. Furthermore, invertebrates and plants can act as indicator species (bioindicators) that scientists can observe for the presence and impact of environmental changes and stressors. Therefore, reductions in invertebrate and plant life have implications for ecosystem health that can put human well-being at risk. Study lead author Ralf Schulz, PH.D., notes, “[This study] challenge[s] the claims of decreasing environmental impact of chemical pesticides in both conventional and GM [genetically modified or genetically engineered (GE)] crops and call for action to reduce the […]

Share

03
Mar

Massachusetts Regulators Restrict Consumer Use of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 3, 2021) Earlier this week, pesticide regulators in the commonwealth of Massachusetts voted to restrict outdoor consumer uses of neonicotinoid insecticides. The move is the result of sustained advocacy from broad coalition of individuals and organizations focused on protecting pollinators and ecosystem health. While advocates are pleased that the Pesticide Board Subcommittee made Massachusetts the first state in the country to restrict neonicotinoids through a regulatory process, they note this is only the first step in eliminating these hazardous insecticides. “This marks an incremental victory which took us 6 years to land, and it only happened because of immense, ongoing grassroots action and legislative allies who are willing to hold state regulators accountable,” said Martin Dagoberto, Policy Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Mass. Chapter in a press release. “We still have a monumental endeavor ahead if we are to reduce toxins and rein in the toxic influence of the chemical lobby,” Mr. Dagoberto added. Advocates had been pushing the legislature to pass An Act to protect Massachusetts Pollinators, sponsored by pollinator champion Representative Carolyn Dykema, since 2014. Following several failures by state lawmakers to bring the bill over the finish line, efforts in 2019 resulted […]

Share

23
Feb

Hummingbirds Harmed by Pesticides Killing Off Bees, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2021) The same pesticides implicated in the worldwide decline of insect pollinators also present significant risks to their avian counterparts, hummingbirds. Well known for their nectar-fueled hovering flight powered by wings beating over 50 times per second, hummingbirds display unique reactions to toxic pesticides. Research by scientists at the University of Toronto finds that hummingbirds exposed to systemic neonicotinoid insecticides for even a short period of time can disrupt the high-powered metabolism of this important and charismatic animal. Scientists began their experiment by trapping 23 wild ruby-throated hummingbirds and housing them in an animal care facility. One group of birds acted as a control and received no pesticide exposure, while the rest were assigned either low, middle, or high exposure (1 part per million [ppm], 2ppm, and 2.5ppm, respectively) to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. Scientists determined these amounts based upon probable nectar contamination in the real world. The pesticide was incorporated into the sugar solution provided to the birds over the course of three days. Within two hours of exposure to the pesticides, hummingbird metabolism dropped significantly. While the control group increased energy expenditure between 1% to 7%, the low exposed group displayed a 6% average decline, […]

Share

12
Feb

Eliminating Pesticides Increases Crop Yields, Debunking Myth of Pesticide Benefits

(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2021) Being many decades down the path of chemical-intensive agriculture, growers and other land managers (and all the industries that influence them) have come largely to ignore the efficacy of healthy, functioning natural systems to maintain ecological equilibrium, i.e., not letting any one pest or disease proliferate. Recent research points to an example of such ecosystem efficacy. The study, by researchers in California and China, sought to evaluate whether increased population densities of fungi might be suppressing nematode populations in California production fields frequently planted with the cole crops (such as brussels sprouts and broccoli) they favor. The research finds that a diverse population of fungi in soils is highly likely to be effectively killing nematodes that threaten such crops. This is not the first time Beyond Pesticides has covered the potential of fungi as an effective control for agricultural pests. Thirty years ago, these nematodes were dealt with by application of soil fumigants and nematicides, because at sufficient population levels, the nematodes can destroy cole crops. During the following three decades, state-mandated monitoring showed that use of those chemical controls was diminishing and, by 2014, had been eliminated — even as yields rose. The co-authors […]

Share

01
Feb

TAKE ACTION: Save Monarch Butterflies from Extinction!  

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2021) The yearly winter monarch count along the California coast, overseen each year by the conservation group Xerces Society, was the lowest ever. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate that many on the planet today are, within their lifetimes, likely to experience a world where western monarchs are extinct. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list monarch butterflies on the list of threatened and endangered species. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate pollinator poisons. Western monarchs migrate from the Pacific Northwest to overwintering grounds along the California coast, where they remain in relatively stationary clusters that are easy to count. In the 1980s, roughly 10 million monarchs overwintered along the coast. By the 1990s, that number fell to 1.2 million. Five years ago, counts were at roughly 300,000. By 2019, numbers crashed below 30,000. This year’s count saw no monarchs at well-known overwintering sites like Pacific Grove. Other locations, like Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and National Bridges State Park, saw only a few hundred. “These sites normally host thousands of butterflies, and their absence this year was heartbreaking for volunteers and visitors flocking to these locales hoping […]

Share

29
Oct

Natural Areas Surrounding Farmland Critical to Reducing Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, October 29, 2020) Natural areas around farmlands play an important role in managing pest outbreaks and therefore reducing insecticide use, a new study published in the journal Ecology Letters finds. While industrial agriculture puts pressure on farmers to grow single crops on ever larger farms to achieve economies of scale, these monoculture landscapes have significant downsides for public health and the environment. “Overall, our results suggest that simplified landscapes increase vineyard pest outbreaks and escalate insecticide spray frequencies,” said lead author Daniel Paredes, PhD, to the Daily Democrat. “In contrast, vineyards surrounded by more productive habitats and more shrubland area are less likely to apply insecticides.” To investigate the effect of nearby landscapes on farm pest pressure, the team of University of California, Davis scientists used a database created by the government of Spain. For 13 years, the government monitored 400 Spanish vineyards for the presence of the European Grapevine Moth. The moth is a notorious vineyard pest (discovered in California vineyards in 2009), laying three generations of eggs on grapes. In the first generation, the moth larvae will web and feed on flowers. In the second and third, they feed on berries, damaging harvests. Scientists developed a […]

Share

16
Jul

Health and Behavioral Development of Beneficial Black Garden Ants Stunted by Low Levels of Pesticide Exposure in Soils

(Beyond Pesticides, July 16, 2020) Long-term exposure to sublethal (low-level) concentrations of the neonicotinoid in soil negatively affects the health and behavioral development of black garden ants (Lasius niger) colonies, according to a study published in Communications Biology by scientists at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Ants are one of the most biologically significant insects in the soil ecosystem, acting as ecosystem engineers. Their burrowing behavior aerates the soil, allowing oxygen and water to penetrate down to plant roots. Additionally, ants increase soil nutrient levels by importing and accumulating organic material like food and feces, thus enhancing nutrient cycling. Like many other insects, ants are unfortunate victims of the global insect apocalypse or population decline, and much research attributes the recent decline to several, including pesticide exposure. Broad-spectrum pesticides, like neonicotinoids, indiscriminately kill pests and nontarget organisms alike, as their ubiquitous use contaminates soils, even in untreated areas. This study highlights the necessity of rethinking chemical pest management, developing sustainable agricultural practices that reduce the use of agrochemicals, like pesticides, to prevent permanent environmental ecosystem damage. Researchers in the study note, “To prevent irreparable damages to functioning ecosystems, [we] suggest to either fully incorporate long-term effects in risk assessment schemes, or to make a shift […]

Share

18
Mar

Infectious Human Disease, Snail Fever, Worsened by Pesticide Run-Off into Fresh Waterways

(Beyond Pesticides, March 18, 2020) Freshwater habitats are threatened now—more than ever—by the adverse effects of pesticide pollution, according to a report published in Scientific Reports by a collaborative research team from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). Pesticide pollution, attributed to runoff from agricultural farms, indirectly increased the rate of the tropical disease schistosomiasis, which infects over 280 million people (2018). This research underlines the range of uncertainties that exist as a result of pesticide contamination, making it critically important that subtropical areas where this disease threat exists move toward organic and pesticide-free approaches.  Increased prevalence of this disease is devastating to socioeconomic development in affected regions, as life expectancy, employment rate, and gross domestic product (GDP) decreases. Schistosomiasis (snail fever), or bilharzia, is a tropical disease caused by parasitic flatworms (trematodes) in the genus Schistosoma and transmitted via freshwater snail (genus Biomphalaria) to its definitive human host. Freshwater snails act as a vector for schistosomiasis as they play a vital role in the lifecycle of the parasitic flatworm. Professor Matthias Liess (Ph.D.), Head of the Department of System Ecotoxicology at the UFZ, and his research team investigated pesticide pollution’s […]

Share

17
Mar

Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

Share

06
Mar

Baby Bees’ Brain Growth Adversely Affected by Neonicotinoid Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2020) Scientists from Imperial College London have just published their recent research on impacts of pesticides on larval bumblebees exposed through neonicotinoid-contaminated food sources. Many studies have looked at the devastating impacts of pesticides on adult insects, including pollinators — and bees, in particular. This research, however, examines how exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, through consumption of contaminated nectar and pollen during the larval stage, affects bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax). It finds that these exposures cause abnormal brain growth in some parts of the bees’ brains, and significantly impairs learning ability compared to bees who were not exposed. Advocates maintain that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for their widespread and severe damage to insects and the environment broadly, in addition to human health concerns. Neonicotinoids (neonics) comprise a class of pesticide used intensively in many parts of the world. They may be applied to plant foliage, or directly to soils as a drench, but the predominant use is for seed treatment. These pesticides are banned or restricted in some places, including in the European Union, France, Germany, and Italy; some states have also worked to rein in their use. Previous research out of Harvard University has […]

Share

18
Apr

Organic Farming Curbs the Spread of Foodborne Pathogens, According to Study

(Beyond Pesticides, April 18, 2019) Organic farming promotes natural resistance to common foodborne human pathogens, according to a study that evaluates the benefit of soil organisms. By protecting valuable species of dung beetles and soil bacteria, organic farming systems naturally act to clean up and decompose potentially pathogen-bearing animal feces. While these natural systems suppr ess pathogens on organic farms, coventional chemical-intensive farms are left with higher levels of fecal residues and are therefore significantly more likely to yield produce carrying such foodborne pathogens as E. coli. The authors emphasize that curbing the spread of common foodborne pathogens could save thousands of lives and prevent millions of illnesses each year. The study, “Organic farming promotes biotic resistance to foodborne human pathogens,” published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, compares dung beetle populations, soil bacteria diversity, and feces removal rates on 70 organic and conventional broccoli farm fields across the west coast of the U.S. In addition to studying field conditions, authors conducted additional microcosm studies to directly test the effects of dung beetles and soil microbes on the suppression of introduced E. coli. Results from field analyses show that organic management practices lead to greater biodiversity among dung beetles and soil […]

Share

24
Jan

Study Reveals Pollinator Conservation Necessitates Social Justice Perspective

(Beyond Pesticides, January 24, 2019) A UK Study has concluded that the expansion of community gardens, identified as “pollinator hotspots” with “high pollinator diversity,” offer an important opportunity for assisting ailing pollinator species and improving community quality of life, particularly in low income neighborhoods. Consequently, researchers suggest towns and cities can be planned and managed more effectively to steward existing urban biodiversity to create essential havens for pollinators and people under stress. The study finds that, “A high level of community robustness to species loss is increasingly recognized as an important goal in restoration ecology, since robust communities are better able to withstand perturbations.” As previous research has shown that organic agriculture boosts local economies, researchers account for and compare a key socioeconomic factor; household income. Affluent neighborhoods have larger, more numerous, and more consistently maintained gardens and green spaces. To increase city-scale robustness, researchers suggest increasing community garden allotments, planting perennial flowering plants in cemeteries, and improving management of public parks. However, researchers explain that increasing the number of community gardens, particularly in communities of low-income, would be the best strategy per unit area, as it would expand viable habitat for pollinators throughout cities while providing much-needed green space […]

Share

21
Nov

Beekeepers at Risk of Losing Hives after Mosquito Insecticide Spraying

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2018) A study published last month in the Journal of Apicultural Research finds significant numbers of U.S. honey bees at risk after exposure to hazardous synthetic pesticides intended to control mosquitoes. With many beekeepers rarely given warning of insecticide spraying, researchers say the risk of losing colonies could increase. Advocates say fear of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses could result in counterproductive and reactionary insecticide spraying that will add further stress to managed and native pollinators already undergoing significant declines. Researchers aimed to determine whether neighboring honey bee colonies could be similarly affected by aerial insecticide spraying. To calculate the percentage of colonies that could be affected, density of honey bee colonies by county was compared with projections of conditions thought to be prone to regional Zika virus outbreaks. Researchers found 13 percent of U.S. beekeepers at risk of losing colonies from Zika spraying. In addition, it was determined that many regions of the U.S. best suited for beekeeping are also those with favorable conditions for Zika-prone mosquitoes to proliferate. These regions include the southeast, the Gulf Coast, and California’s Central Valley. “[Considering] all the threats facing bees,” says study lead author Lewis Bartlett of the […]

Share

01
Nov

Bumblebees Shown to Suffer Reproductive Failure after Pesticide Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, November 1, 2018) A new study offers fresh evidence that wild bumblebee pollinators are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides, finding that exposure to these compounds interferes with mating success and population stability. Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, measuring real-world harms of neonicotinoids, indicate that the impacts they found to bumblebee “reproducers,” namely queen and drone (male) bees, does not bode well for the array of plant species that relies on them. Though advocates warn that destabilizing managed pollinators could threaten U.S. food production and exports, with food prices increasing as cost of bringing pollinators to farms increases, the study’s authors and advocates insist that the impacts of such widespread poisoning of wild bees could be felt well beyond agriculture. Researchers in the lab compare behavioral and psychological responses of virgin queens, workers, and male Bombus impatiens from multiple colonies to field-realistic doses of the neonicotinoid clothianidin. While every bee was given a replenishing supply of pollen based on body weight and energy demands, four distinct concentrations of diluted analytical-grade (pure) clothianidin (including a control with no pesticide added) were mixed into a nectar-like solution and fed to the bumblebees orally for 5 […]

Share

04
Oct

Glyphosate Linked to Bee Deaths in University of Texas Study

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2018) According to new research from the University of Texas at Austin, glyphosate, the world’s most widely used agrichemical weed killer, may also be killing bees by impairing their gut microbiota, and subsequently, their immune systems.  The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees, notes these findings as evidence glyphosate could very well be contributing to the sharp decline of pollinators seen throughout the world over the past decade. Researchers began with a single hive and collected several hundred worker bees. One group of bees was fed a sterile sugar syrup, while others were exposed to levels of glyphosate equal to what is found in conventional crop fields, lawns and highway medians. To aid tracking and recapture, bees were marked with colored dots based on their grouping. Researchers sampled 15 individuals from each group of worker bees right before and three days after reintroduction back to the hive. At both times, DNA from the insects’ guts was extracted to observe whether glyphosate had significantly altered microbial diversity within their organ system. Results found relatively minimal impacts to bees tested prior to their […]

Share

27
Aug

Pesticides Contribute to Bird Declines, Threatening Forests, Crops, and Ecological Balance

(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2018) Beyond the visual and audial charms of some bird species, insect-eating birds play a significant role in controlling pests that can ruin crops or ravage forests. A meta-study by Martin Nyffeler, Ph.D. of the University of Basel in Switzerland finds that globally, birds annually consume 400-plus million metric tons of various insects, including moths, aphids, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other arthropods (invertebrate organisms with exoskeletons, paired and jointed appendages, and segmented bodies, such as insects, crustaceans, and spiders). This research reviews 103 studies that examine the volume of insects consumed by various birds in seven of the world’s major biomes. In consuming such volumes of insects that can inflict damage on crops, trees, and other plants on which organisms may feed or otherwise depend, birds provide significant services to ecosystems, to denizens of habitats, and to human food system and economic interests; they also keep local ecosystems in balance. Threats to birds — and thus, to those ecosystem services — include those from pesticide use. Of the 10,700 known bird species distributed across the planet, more than 6,000 are primarily insectivorous. The study indicates that forest-dwelling birds consume the majority of insects (approximately 300 million metric […]

Share

15
Jun

Plan Actions to Protect Pollinators During National Pollinator Week, June 18-24

(Beyond Pesticides, June 15, 2018) In recognition of the importance of pollinators and biodiversity to a healthy environment and healthy people during National Pollinator Week, June 18-24, Beyond Pesticides announces a week of activities and actions. Monday (June 18) Watch and share the new short-film “Seeds that Poison.” To kick off Pollinator Week 2018, Beyond Pesticides is releasing a new video highlighting the hazards associated with a major use of bee-toxic pesticides – seed coatings. Please watch and share with friends and family! Click here to watch Seeds that Poison. After distributing the film, please contact your state elected officials to ask that they act to protect pollinators. (Connecticut and Maryland have taken action.) Folks in the DC area can also attend a “Pollinator Forum” to learn about pollinators and celebrate them. The event is taking place at the Tabard Inn (Monday, June 18) and will feature Beyond Pesticides’ Science and Regulatory Director Nichelle Harriott. Click here to purchase tickets. Tuesday Plant pollinator habitat. Explore Beyond Pesticides’ resources to find ideas for native plantings or sources of untreated flowers and dig your pollinator-friendly garden today. Use the Bee Protective Habitat Guide and or Pollinator-Friendly Seed Directory to help! Wednesday Take local action. […]

Share

08
Feb

Intermediary Strips of Wildflowers across Fields Reduces Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2018) New trials are being launched in the United Kingdom (UK) to monitor fields that have long strips of wildflowers planted through croplands to boost natural predators and potentially reduce pesticide spraying. The large-scale trials are meant to determine how effective these strips can be as a tool for practitioners wishing to enhance biological pest control in the field. The field trials, carried out by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), are being conducted on 15 large arable farms in central and eastern England and would be monitored for five years. Until now, wildflower strips have been placed at the edge of fields as refuges. However, natural predators in these strips would be unable to access the center of large planted fields, and thereby unable to effectively target pests that are in the fields. In the new trials, six-meter wide strips of annual wild and cultivated plants – with 13 to 16 species – will be planted 100 meters apart so that predators will be able to attack aphids and other pests typically found in fields. The researchers at CEH’s ASSIST program (Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems) will determine whether in-field strips are feasible tools for […]

Share

01
Dec

PolliNATION: Best BioControl, Ichneumonid Wasps

(Beyond Pesticides, December 1, 2017) Ichneumonid wasps (family Ichneumonidae), are a widely distributed parasitoid wasp family within the order Hymenoptera. The name “ichneumonid” comes from Greek words meaning “tracker” and “footprint.” And females do indeed hunt for suitable “hosts” by first identifying the organism’s food source. Once a suitable host is found, females deposit eggs onto the unsuspecting insect larvae where, within ten days to several weeks, the Ichneumonid larva kills the host by feeding on its body fluids before it emerges. They are also known as “scorpion wasps” for the extreme length and curving motion of their segmented abdomens. Note: both adult males and females are stingless, and feed on nectar. The discovery of Ichneumonidae was so troubling to many that, in 1860, Charles Darwin wrote a letter to the American naturalist Asa Gray, saying: “I own that I [should wish to] see as plainly as others do…evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us…I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.” The parasitic behavior of Ichneumon wasps was […]

Share

28
Nov

Study Finds Pesticides Take the Buzz Out of Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, November 28, 2017) Bumblebees exposed to field-realistic levels of neonicotinoid insecticides have problems with “buzz pollination” that results in reduced pollen collection, according to new research published in Scientific Reports. This is the latest science to tease out the complex ways in which neonicotinoids interfere with these important pollinators, providing yet another reason to eliminate these highly toxic, systemic insecticides from the environment. Flowers that bumblebees pollinate require the insects to emit soundwaves, or ‘sonicate’ to release their pollen, and bumblebees must perfect their techniques over time in order to maximize the pollen they are able to collect. Researchers tested the effect of neonicotinoids on bumblebees’ sonication abilities by exposing them to field realistic doses of the insecticide thiamethoxam at rates of 2 parts per billion (ppb) and 10 ppb, and observing their ability to successfully collect pollen. A control group that never came in contact with thiamethoxam was also used to compare the progress of the exposed group. Lead author of the study, Penelope Whitehorn, PhD, indicated, “We found that control bees, who were not exposed to the pesticide, improved their pollen collection as they gained experience, which we interpreted as an ability to learn to buzz […]

Share

04
Oct

October’s PolliNATION Pollinator of the Month – The Soldier Beetle

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2017) Beetles in the family Cantharidae are known as soldier beetles, a name that is based on the resemblance of the elyra (wing cover) to certain military uniforms. They superficially resemble fireflies (family Lampyridae), but lack light-emitting organs and the covering obscuring the head of fireflies. Like fireflies, soldier beetles are distasteful to most predators. Range There are 16 genera containing 455 species of soldier beetles native to North America, including Chauliognathus marginatus, which is commonly seen on goldenrod in late summer and early fall. Worldwide, there are about 5,100 species in 160 genera, widely distributed in all but polar regions. Most frequently active in summer and early fall, adults can be found on various flowers including sunflowers, tansy, zinnia, marigold, goldenrod, and coneflower. Females lay eggs in clusters in the soil. Larvae are mostly carnivorous, feeding on soil insects. They live through the winter under loose soil, and become active during spring. Larvae normally pupate in early summer and adults first emerge in mid-summer. Physiology The soldier beetle’s body is around ½ to ž inch long. Adults are black or brown, usually with red to yellow markings, an “aposematic” signal to predators, warning of an […]

Share

21
Jul

Sustained Glyphosate Use Reveals Risks to Soil and Environmental Health

(Beyond Pesticides, July 21, 2017) A March 2017 review of studies on the agricultural use of glyphosate (the active ingredient in “Roundup” and other formulated herbicides) points to widespread persistence in soils subject to long-term, intensive glyphosate use, and myriad resulting concerns about impacts on soil and environmental health. The review, by Robert J. Kremer, PhD, of the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, cites concerns that include: reduction of nutrient availability for plants and organisms; disruption to organism diversity, especially in the areas around plant roots; reductions of beneficial soil bacteria; increases in plant root pathogens; disturbed earthworm activity; reduced nitrogen fixing at plant roots; and compromised growth and reproduction in some soil and aquatic organisms. Globally, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide compound: in 2017, worldwide use is estimated to be approximately 1.35 million metric tons. Use in the U.S. has risen dramatically — from 2.72–3.62 million kg in 1987 to approximately 108 million kg in 2014, and 15-fold since 1996, when genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced. Use has grown for a number of reasons, including more-intensive use as resistance to the herbicide grows. Researchers have found that, after years of consistent application to […]

Share

24
Mar

Rusty Patched Bumblebee Listed as Endangered

(Beyond Pesticides, March 24, 2017) On March 21, the rusty patched bumblebee’s path to protection cleared political hurdles this week. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on March 21 officially listed the rusty patched bumblebee under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), after months of turmoil due to the Trump Administration’s temporary freeze on federal regulations adopted at the end of the Obama Administration. This listing stands as a landmark decision, marking the rusty patched bumblebee the first bumblebee species, and first bee overall in the continental U.S., to officially be declared endangered by FWS. In October 2016, FWS listed seven species of bees as endangered in Hawaii. The initial decision to list the rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species came at the very end of President Obama’s term, on January 11, to take effect in February. FWS said in its news release, “Causes of the decline in rusty patched bumble bee populations are believed to be loss of habitat; disease and parasites; use of pesticides that directly or indirectly kill the bees; climate change, which can affect the availability of the flowers they depend on; and extremely small population size. Most likely, a combination of these factors has caused the decline in rusty patched […]

Share