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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Pollinators' Category


06
May

Flight Distance of Bumblebees Impaired by Pesticide, Leads to 87% Decline in Accessible Forage Area

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2019) Beleaguered pollinators deal with a multitude of human-engineered threats: habitat fragmentation and loss via development and agricultural intensification, ecosystems and food sources tainted with toxic synthetic pesticides, and shrinking food sources via habitat and biodiversity loss. Research out of the Imperial College of London shows that such challenges are exacerbated, for bumblebees, by another impact of pesticide exposure — impaired flight endurance and dynamics. Published in the journal Ecology and Evolution in late April, ”Pesticide exposure affects flight dynamics and reduced flight endurance in bumblebees” examines how acute exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid affects the nature of bumblebee foraging flight. The study’s researchers find that worker bumblebees so exposed exhibit significant diminishment of flight endurance — measured as both distance and duration — to approximately one-third of what control workers demonstrate. This new information, aggregated with the many other factors that threaten pollinators, points to the importance of ending the use of chemical controls, such as the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, and transitioning to organic systems of agricultural pest management that do not rely on toxic compounds that harm wildlife, ecosystems, water resources, and humans. Previous research has shown numerous impacts of pesticide exposure on bumblebees, and of neonicotinoid exposure, in […]

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30
Apr

Study Findings on Pollinator Declines: Neonics Increase Honey Bee Vulnerability to Mites

(Beyond Pesticides, April, 30, 2019) According to the latest blog post from pesticide industry propagandist Henry I Miller, the pollinator crisis either a) is not occurring; b) is not a problem; or, c) caused by varroa mites, pathogens, and habitat loss. Notwithstanding outlandish assertions that there is no pollinator crisis, new research is further undermining the long-held industry claim that it is mites and disease alone, and not pesticides that are harming pollinator populations. Published in the journal Scientific Reports by a team of Canadian scientists, this research finds that realistic exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides impairs honey bees ability to groom mites off of their bodies and increases infection with a disease known as deformed wing virus (DWV). “When bee colonies began to collapse years ago, it became clear there wasn’t just one factor involved, so we were interested in whether there was an interaction between two of the main stressors that affect bees: varroa mites and a neurotoxic insecticide, clothianidin,” said Nuria Morfin Ramirez, PhD, at the University of Guelph, Canada. Dr. Ramirez and her team exposed honey bees to a range of different concentrations (low, medium, high) of the neonicotinoid clothianidin, with some bees receiving combined stressors of […]

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22
Apr

Planting Clover This Earth Day

(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2019) This Earth Day, please join us in celebrating, propagating, and educating about a misunderstood and beneficial plant: clover.  Clover: Provides your lawn with enough nitrogen to eliminate any need for ecologically hazardous synthetic fertilizers Acts as an important food source for declining pollinator populations Attracts earthworms and other beneficial soil microorganisms Remains green year-round Resists drought Helps your lawn resist disease A little history: “White clover used to be a standard ingredient in every grass seed mix; 75 years ago no one planted a lawn without mixing a little white clover in with the grass seed,” recounts Roger Swain, host of PBS’ The Victory Garden. After World War II, as the middle class grew and moved to suburban communities, chemicals developed during wartime found new uses on U.S. lawns. Chief among them was 2,4-D – an herbicide originally developed with the intent to wipe out potatoes in Germany and rice crops in Japan in a plan to starve the Axis powers into surrender. While 2,4-D was never used for that purpose, its ability to kill broadleaf plants while sparing grass species made it desirable on the farm for removing weeds around crops like wheat, corn, and […]

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19
Apr

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Found to Disrupt Insects’ Vision and Flying Ability

(Beyond Pesticides, April 19, 2019) Flying insects exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides or its breakdown products experience visual impairment and difficulty flying, according to a study published in the journal NeuroToxicology by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. While at face value these impacts may sound non-lethal, any loss of fitness in the wild can make flying insects an easier meal for their predators. “Our findings suggest that very low doses of the pesticide or its metabolic products can profoundly and negatively affect motion detection systems that flying insects, such as locusts, grasshoppers and bees, need for survival,” said Jack Gray, PhD, an expert in neural control of animal behavior at the University of Saskatchewan. Researchers used locusts as proxies for other flying insects, as the visual processing in their brains is easy to track in laboratory settings. Moreover, as study co-author Rachel Parkinson notes, “Bees and other flying insects use similar neural mechanisms to process visual motion,” making the implications of this study applicable to a wide range of other airborne insects. And rather than simply focus on the effects of exposure to a single active ingredient, researchers also studied whether its breakdown products (metabolites) resulted in similar impairment. […]

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12
Apr

Fish and Wildlife Service Sued for Failure to Disclose Use of Bee-Toxic Pesticides and GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, April 12, 2019) The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) announced on April 3 that it is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for its failure to release public records, despite multiple FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, that would reveal on-the-ground impacts of FWS allowing use of neonicotinoids and genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges. Last August, in yet another rollback of protections for wildlife, the environment, and public health, the Trump administration reversed a 2014 FWS decision to ban the use of neonicotinoids and GE crops in National Wildlife Refuges. If successful, the CBE lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, would compel the agency to provide the requested documents. This would allow the public, largely through the work of NGO (non-governmental organization) watchdogs, such as CBD and Beyond Pesticides, to understand what harms are being caused on the nation’s protected public lands by the administration’s reversal of the 2014 ban. Hannah Connor, a CBD senior attorney, said, “The goal of the lawsuit is to get them to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and produce the records that have been requested. . . . We aren’t asking them to […]

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19
Mar

Not Just Bumble and Honey: Ground Nesting Bees Impaired by Neonicotinoid Exposure

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2019) Research is beginning to explain how systemic neonicotinoid insecticides affect often overlooked species of ground nesting bees. While much of the current scientific literature has focused on the impacts of pesticides to bumblebees and honey bees, a study, Chronic contact with realistic soil concentrations of imidacloprid affects the mass, immature development speed, and adult longevity of solitary bees, recently published in Scientific Reports, confirms that wild, soil-dwelling bees are at similar risk. As policy makers consider ways to protect pollinators, this research finds that uncontaminated soil is an important aspect of ensuring the health of wild, native bees. “This is an important piece of work because it’s one of the first studies to look at realistic concentrations of pesticides that you would find in the soil as a route of exposure for bees,” said Nick Anderson, co-author of the study. “It’s a very under-explored route, especially for some of the more solitary species that nest in the ground.” In order to study the impact of neonicotinoids on ground nesting bees, researchers used orchard mason bees and leafcutter bees as proxies, as they are easier to gather and rear in the lab, and have a similar ecology […]

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13
Mar

Pesticide Exposure Alters Gene Expression in Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, March 13, 2019) A study on the impact of two neonicotinoid pesticides shows differential gene expression in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) after exposure. Considering the current worldwide plight of insects, the authors of point to the cutting edge research as both a reason and a methodology to more carefully examine the effects of pesticides. “Caste- and pesticide-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticide exposure on gene expression in bumblebees” was published in the journal Molecular Ecology in early March. Researchers fed variable colonies with clothianidin or imidacloprid-laced sucrose. They analyzed gene expression in the heads of worker bumblebees and colony queens using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), inspired by biomedical techniques. This approach allowed for new insight on what genes and pathways are affected by neonicotinoid exposure. Study author Yannick Wurm, PhD, stated in a press release, “Our work demonstrates that the type of high-resolution molecular approach that has changed the way human diseases are researched and diagnosed, can also be applied to beneficial pollinators. This approach provides an unprecedented view of how bees are being affected by pesticides and works at large scale. It can fundamentally improve how we evaluate the toxicity of chemicals we put into nature.” Clothianidin had a stronger […]

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26
Feb

Take Action: Ask the Largest Food Retailer to Lead the Way and Stop Selling Food Grown with Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2019) Breakfast cereal, apples, applesauce and pinto beans made and sold by Kroger contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of series health and environmental problems, according to a residue study by Friends of the Earth. This is alarming. Kid-friendly food like applesauce and Cheerios should not contain dangerous pesticides. Kids are the most vulnerable to these pesticides and shouldn’t be exposed to brain-damaging or cancer-causing pesticides when they eat their breakfast or snacks. The connection between pesticides and cancer, learning disabilities, and other diseases is supported by hundreds of studies in Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database. These new tests, which corroborate numerous residue studies, mean that Kroger customers may be purchasing food with the intent of providing safe and healthy food for their families, but end up unknowingly exposing them to toxic pesticides. Join the national week of action by either delivering a letter to Kroger in person, or sending an email to Kroger Chief Executive Rodney McMullen. The pesticides found in Kroger’s food are harmful to human health and pollinators. Friends of the Earth found residues of cancer-causing glyphosate, brain-damaging organophosphates, and bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. Organophosphates can cause damage to children’s developing brains, including reduced IQ, loss […]

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21
Feb

EPA Loophole Allows Expanded Use of Bee-Toxic Chemical

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2019) In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved 16.2 million acres of crops to be sprayed with the bee-toxic insecticide sulfoxaflor under an emergency exemption. Sulfoxaflor was used in 18 different states on cotton and sorghum — plants known to attract bees. In response to a lawsuit headed by beekeepers, the EPA reclassified sulfoxaflor in 2016 and, recognizing its toxicity to bees, prohibited use on crops that draw in these pollinators. However, Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) gives the EPA authority to permit temporary emergency use of unapproved pesticides. This loophole is used regularly in response to predictable stressors. “Emergency” use was approved 78 times for sulfoxaflor on sorghum and cotton between 2012-2017. Sulfoxaflor is a systemic insecticide that acts similarly to neonicotinoid pesticides. After application, the chemical is absorbed and distributed throughout the plant, including pollen and nectar. These kinds of chemicals are selective agonists of insects’ nicotinic acetylcholine receptors—they bind to the receptor and cause it to activate. The impact on foraging bees is sublethal, but devastating on a population level. Even at low levels, sulfoxaflor impairs reproduction and reduces bumblebee colony size. Sufloxaflor is functionally identical to […]

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14
Feb

Bavarians Gather Enough Petition Signatures to Advance Legislation to Save the Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2019) Over the course of the last two weeks in Bavaria – a southern state of Germany – locals rallied in an effort to save the bees. Braving the cold in eye-catching bee outfits, a broad coalition of activists collected over a million signatures (the necessary 10% of the state’s eligible voters) to move a petition into legislature. The petition pushes forward changes in farming practices to support pollinators; while bees are the charismatic champion of the campaign, changes will support biodiversity in general. Now that signatures are gathered, the state parliament has three months to handle citizens’ requests. Then, parliament can either accept the proposal as is or put it to a statewide referendum. In a statewide referendum, there will be a “yes” or “no” vote by a simple majority, with government bound by the result. A central motion within the petition is to increase percentage of organic farmland from 10% to 30% by 2030. This number is based on the global movement to conserve 30% of the world by 2030 in order to avoid environmental catastrophe. Proponents of the petition suggest that the demand for organic products is higher than current Bavarian capabilities, and that the […]

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12
Feb

Study Predicts Demise of Insects within Decades if Pesticide Dependence Continues

(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2019) A new systematic review of insect population studies worldwide reports on “the dreadful state of insect biodiversity in the world, as almost half of the species are rapidly declining and a third are being threatened with extinction.” The study concludes with the dire prediction that insects as a whole will go extinct in the next few decades if patterns of intensive agriculture, in particular pesticide use, continue. The review, published in Biological Conservation, analyzes 73 insect population studies conducted within the past 40 years, filtered to include only those that quantitatively assess all insect species within a taxa over a span of 10 or more years. Researchers Francisco SĂĄnchez-Bayo, PhD and Kris A.G. Wyckhuys, PhD uncover the disturbing truth behind this mass of data: one in every three insect species monitored worldwide is threatened with extinction. Even more concerning is the finding that 41% of insect species worldwide are in decline, outpacing the more well-publicized vertebrate declines by 200%. Only a few species are expanding in range or occupying vacant niches – not nearly enough to compensate for the massive losses. In 8% of the studies in the review, citizen science data is analyzed in […]

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07
Feb

Study Finds State Pollinator Protections Fall Short

(Beyond Pesticides, February 7, 2019) A new study, released in Environmental Science and Policy, systematically reviews all state-level pollinator protection acts passed since 2000 and makes a somewhat dim diagnosis: as a rule, state policies fall far below the mark for protecting invaluable ecosystem services and ensuring long-term, sustainable food production. Authors judge the legislation against a set of pollinator protection policy benchmarks established in 2016 by a group of scientists from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Citing the ten policy recommendations laid out by IPBES experts, researchers point to the failure of all enacted state policies to address three main target areas – (1) to improve genetically modified crop risk assessment, (2) to incentivize farmers to make the switch from agrochemical dependence to sustainable benefits from ecosystem services, and, critically, (3) to support diversified farming systems. Beyond Pesticides notes one additional missed target: (4) funding for research on organic, diversified, and ecologically intensified farming. The study includes a total of 109 state laws passed from 2000 to 2017, which authors tracked down by searching usa.gov and state legislative websites and by submitting requests to state librarians. To uncover common themes and patterns among these […]

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04
Feb

Take Action: Help Protect Endangered Bumblebees

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2019)  Although the rusty patched bumblebee was placed on the endangered species list in 2017, the Trump Administration has failed to put in place legally required safeguards for the species. The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) must designate locations where additional protections could help restore the endangered bumblebee’s population. Tell Your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators to Urge U.S. Department of Interior Acting Secretary David Bernhardt to protect the endangered rusty patched bumblebee as required by law. DOI’s failure to comply with requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is consistent with the Trump Administration’s continued disregard for ongoing pollinator declines and environmental protections in general. Under ESA, DOI is required to determine “critical habitat” that contains physical and biological requirements a listed species needs in order to recover. That area must be designated within one year of placing a species on the endangered list, using best available scientific data. The Trump Administration’s DOI has failed to do so under either former Director Ryan Zinke or Acting Director David Bernhardt. Without determining critical habitat, the administration is in violation of the ESA, and the survival of a critical endangered species is threatened. The rusty patched bumblebee has a […]

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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 […]

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17
Jan

Interior Department Sued Over Failure to Protect Endangered Bumblebee

(Beyond Pesticides, January 17, 2019) Although the rusty patched bumblebee was placed on the endangered species list in 2017, the Trump Administration has failed to put in place legally required safeguards for the species. As a result, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is suing the Administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI) for failing to designate locations where additional protections could help restore the endangered bumblebee’s population. Advocates say DOI’s failure to comply with requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is consistent with the Trump Administration’s continued disregard for ongoing pollinator declines and environmental protections in general. Under ESA, DOI is required to determine “critical habitat” that contains physical and biological requirements a listed species needs in order to recover. That area must be designated within one year of placing a species on the endangered list, using best available scientific data. But the Trump Administration’s DOI, under both former Director Ryan Zinke and Acting Director David Bernhardt, has failed to do so, in violation of ESA. NRDC’s legal director Rebecca Riley notes that this lack of follow-through “leaves this highly endangered bee’s habitat at risk of destruction and decreases the species’ chance for survival.” The rusty patched bumblebee has […]

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16
Jan

Western Monarchs Experience Catastrophic Declines Over the Last Year

(Beyond Pesticides, January 16, 2019) Preliminary counts in California indicate the western monarch butterfly population dropped 86% from 2017 to 2018. The survey is a result of an annual effort by volunteer citizen scientists, organized by the nonprofit organization Xerces Society. If the trend from the initial sample (97 sites) holds true, the population of overwintering butterflies is estimated to be less than 30,000 – 0.05% of its historical size. Full and vetted results will be published in late January. To get an accurate count of monarch populations, volunteers follow a monitoring guide, which recommends beginning a count on a still, cool, and dry morning so that monarchs are still clustered together. Volunteers count a small cluster of monarchs and then extrapolate that number to arrive at a total for the larger cluster they’re observing. Citizen science has been crucial to understanding the decline of monarchs and insects worldwide. As covered by The New York Times, the current “Insect Apocalypse” has largely been documented by volunteers. The dismal numbers recorded this year are potentially disastrous, as the predicted extinction threshold for overwintering western monarchs is a population of 30,000. However this threshold, based on population densities needed for thermoregulation and mating […]

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10
Jan

Take Action: Stop Antibiotic Use in Citrus Production, Leading to Life-Threatening Illness

(Beyond Pesticides, January 10, 2019) The Trump administration is opening the floodgates to allow widespread use of antibiotics in citrus (grapefruits, oranges and tangerines) production, expanding on an emergency use decision it made in 2017. The public has an opportunity to comment on the widespread use of streptomycin by January 19, 2019. You can comment on the federal government’s public comment page (regulations.gov) by leaving a comment opposing any additional use of antibiotics in food production during a national and international crisis of deadly disease resistance to antibiotics. You can copy Beyond Pesticides’ prepared comment below and add your own concerns. Strikingly, the decision allows for up to 480,000 acres of citrus trees in Florida to be treated with more than 650,000 pounds of streptomycin per year, and 23,000 citrus acres in California will likely be treated annually. The two approved antibacterial chemicals to be used as a pesticide in citrus production are streptomycin and oxytetracycline. These uses were permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under an emergency exemption in May, 2017, allowing residues of antibiotics in Florida orange juice, for the antibiotics streptomycin and oxytetracycline –allowing their use for a bacterial disease, citrus greening (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas) bacterium that causes Huanglongbing), […]

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09
Jan

Regulations to Protect Bees Fall Short, Scientists Call for More Attention to Native Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2019) It is news to approximately no one that pollinators are in trouble worldwide. A series of papers by biologists at the University of Guelph, Ontario, posits that pesticide regulations aimed at protection of honey bees fall far short of the critical task of protecting the multitude of bee species that are important pollinators of human food crops. These recent papers arose from 2017 workshops that involved 40 bee researchers from various universities, and representatives from Canadian, U.S., and European regulatory agencies, and from the agrochemical industry. Beset by shrinking habitat, pathogens, and toxic chemical exposures, bee pollinator populations are at great risk, even as “‘our dependency on insect-pollinated crops is increasing and will continue to do so as the global population rises,’ said [Professor Nigel] Raine, [PhD], [a] co-author of all three papers recently published in the journal Environmental Entomology. . . . Protecting wild pollinators is more important now than ever before. Honeybees alone simply cannot deliver the crop pollination services we need.” There are, in fact, more than 20,000 bee species worldwide, and 3,500–5,000 bee species in North America alone. Although regulators across many countries have focused narrowly on assessing the risk of pesticides to honey bees, many […]

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04
Jan

Settlement Bans Some Bee-Toxic Pesticides, Requires Public Comment Period on Testing All Pesticide Product Ingredients and Regulating Pesticide-Treated Seeds

(Beyond Pesticides, January 4, 2019) First, the good news: plaintiffs in a 2013 lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can allow themselves a small victory dance. In that suit, plaintiffs made a number of claims related to EPA’s failure to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides, its poor oversight of the bee-killing pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam, and its practice of “conditional registration,” as well as labeling deficiencies. The parties in the suit negotiated a settlement, as directed by a federal judge (see below), that was signed in October 2018 and portends some positive movement in curtailing the use of some toxic pesticides [12 products, each of which contains chlothianidin or thiamathoxam as an active ingredient] that harm pollinators in particular, as well as other organisms and the environment. It also establishes a public process for EPA to consider requiring whole formulations of pesticide products during registration, and redefining EPA’s interpretation of law that allows seeds treated with bee-toxic pesticides to escape regulation as a pesticide. The suit was brought by a number of individual beekeepers and several organizations, including Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety (CFS), Sierra Club, and Center for Environmental Health, and named as defendants Steven Bradbury, then-director of the […]

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03
Jan

Watchdog Groups Urge Maryland to Better Enforce State’s Pollinator Protection Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2019) Bee-toxic pesticides banned for consumer use by the state of Maryland are still being sold in hardware and garden stores, according to reports from beekeeper and consumer watchdog groups. In 2016, Maryland passed the Pollinator Protection Act, which limited the use of neonicotinoids, insecticides implicated in the global decline of pollinator populations, to only certified applicators. According to spot checks by the Maryland Pesticide Education Network (MPEN) and the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association (CMBA), state enforcement agencies still have a ways to go to ensure retailers are complying with the law. From May to October 2018, six volunteers visited 30 Maryland stores along the Baltimore-Washington corridor to see whether they are complying with the law by removing bee-toxic neonicotinoids from retail consumer sale. Eleven of the 30 stores were not in compliance, ranging from local home and garden stores to national big-box chains. “I’ve taken bottles off the shelf and taken them up to an employee or a manager, and said, ‘You really need to stop selling this stuff — it’s illegal,’” said Steve McDaniel, a master beekeeper in Carroll County to the Bay Journal. The state, for its part, indicates that staffing problems at […]

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21
Dec

Blackberry Leaves Decompose to Thwart Mosquito Breeding

(Beyond Pesticides, December 21, 2019) A study at the University of Maine (UMaine) finds that adding blackberry leaf litter in stormwater catch basins creates an “ecological trap,” enticing mosquito females to lay eggs in sites unsuitable for larvae survival. Employing this new and incredibly viable “attract-and-kill’ tool for mosquito control shows potential for preventing the breeding of mosquitoes that may carry insect-borne diseases, especially in urban environments. Stormwater catch basins regularly accumulate leaf litter, which serve as habitat for the mosquito species Culex pipiens (Cx. Pipiens) that may carry West Nile virus. Previous University of Maine research discovered decomposing leaf litter from Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and common blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) produces chemical compounds that attracts and stimulates Cx. Pipiens female to oviposit, or lay eggs. Investigating the attractiveness and lethality of varying catch basin conditions to mosquitoes, researchers hypothesized that blackberry leaf litter could be shown to be lethal to developing mosquito larvae, and, therefore, act as a natural ecological trap for Cx. Pipiens. Five varying treatments were applied to a total 50 catch basins. Treatments included (1) all debris dredged weekly throughout the duration of the study, (2) no change to debris naturally occurring in catch basins, (3) […]

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14
Dec

Pollinator Disappearance Documented in Vermont, Confirming Insect Apocalypse

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2018) The richness, diversity, and abundance of wild bumblebees in Vermont has plummeted over the last century, according to an analysis from researchers at the University of Vermont and Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE). This research adds fresh evidence to the growing realization that mankind is witnessing and contributing to, as the New York Times recently labeled, a worldwide insect apocalypse. “We’re losing bumblebees even before we fully understand their benefits to our economy and well-being, or how they fit into ecosystems,” said Kent McFarland, study coauthor and conservation biologist at VCE in a press release. Researchers conducted surveys with the help of 53 trained citizen scientists. Alongside the researchers, these individuals surveyed bumblebee populations through a combination of photos of wild bees and net collections. In total, over 81% of the state’s municipalities were included in the survey, representing all of Vermont pollinator’s biophysical regions. These data, consisting of over 10,000 bee encounters, were then compared to a database of almost 2,000 historical public and private insect collections amassed by researchers. With the first records beginning at 1915, scientists are able to compose a century-long assessment of pollinator populations in Vermont. “These collections are priceless,” […]

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03
Dec

Take Action: Protect Biodiversity – Reinstate the Ban of Bee-Toxic Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Wildlife Refuges

(Beyond Pesticides, December 3, 2018) In August 2018, the Trump administration announced a reversal of a 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) decision to ban neonicotinoid insecticides on National Wildlife Refuges. The administration’s action threatens not only pollinators, but contributes to the attack on biodiversity worldwide.  Tell Congress to protect biodiversity by insisting that the ban on neonicotinoid pesticides in wildlife refuges be reinstated. In 2014, FWS announced that all National Wildlife Refuges would join in the phase-out of neonics (while also phasing out genetically engineered crops) by January 2016. FWS “determined that prophylactic use, such as a seed treatment, of the neonicotinoid pesticides that can distribute systemically in a plant and can potentially affect a broad spectrum of non-target species is not consistent with Service policy. We make this decision based on a precautionary approach to our wildlife management practices and not on agricultural practices.” This move was not only intended to protect honey bees that have suffered average losses above 30% since 2006, but also the federally threatened and endangered pollinators that live in National Wildlife Refuges. However, it is not just pollinators who are affected. Recent research has found dramatic drops in overall insect abundance, leading entomologists to speak of an “insect apocalypse.” Various studies have found reductions of up to […]

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