Do you know that the grub-killing pesticide you put on your lawn and the flea control you put on your pet likely contains imidacloprid, a pesticide implicated in honeybee-killing Colony Collapse Disorder? And, if you purchase non-organic coffee, citrus, grapes and other fruits, potatoes and other vegetables, rice or use any sugarcane products you are probably buying an imidacloprid-treated crop?
Imidacloprid, by Bayer, is an ingredient in over 400 products in the U.S., according to the National Pesticide Information Center. Bayer reports it is used on sucking and biting insects such as aphids as well as fruit flies, grubs, termites, white flies and many beetles.
Bees are exposed to imidacloprid through the pollen and nectar they collect from treated crops. Honeybees are also exposed to imidacloprid through the high-fructose corn syrup they are fed by beekeepers, notes Alex Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health. Most U.S.-grown corn is treated with imidacloprid so the insecticide is in corn syrup, Lu explains in this Science Daily report.
Lu and colleagues studied the role imidacloprid might play Colony Collapse Disorder. They monitored four different bee yards, each with four hives – three exposed to different levels of imidacloprid plus one no-exposure control. After 23 weeks of observation, 94 percent of the hives exposed to imidacloprid had died. Those exposed to the highest imidacloprid levels died first.
Related studies, conducted in the United Kingdom and France, also implicated imidacloprid exposure in the decline of honeybee and bumblebee populations. Both suggest that levels of the nerve-effecting neonicotinoid type of pesticide imidacloprid, similar to those reached with common crop applications, impair bees ability to gain weight, their sense of direction, and ability to produce queens.
There are many neonicotinoid pesticides – too many to address in one post – so let’s focus on imidacloprid, the active ingredient in Bayer’s Merit and Season Long Grub Control products.
Imidacloprid may remain in the soil for more than a year. It easily moves through soil via water, causing a run-off problem. The pesticide will not remain where you put it, it ends up where ever water takes it. It is taken up by blooming plants … exactly where bees head for pollen and nectar. It is toxic to bees, earthworms, fish, and other aquatic life.
Just look at the label for one imidacloprid product, Merit, approved for use on turf grass, landscape ornamentals, fruit and nut trees, and interior plants. The caution statement for humans is scary enough. The Environmental Hazards statement then lists Merit as highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and highly toxic to bees exposed directly or from residues on blooming plants. It also cautions that Merit – in essence imidacloprid – is not to be used in areas where soil is permeable to water.
Think about this … All lawns and gardens are in soils permeable to water. To me, this little fact negates the use of imidacloprid on any lawn or garden.
Lawn and garden owners must take the initiative to be informed. Question all lawn and garden care sales pitches in television, newspaper and magazine ads, and through direct mail. READ ALL LABELS. Know what is in a product before using it. Most importantly, acknowledge that each action you take in your lawn and garden is important. What you add to your soil affects insects and birds and toads and small mammals and continues to affect all creatures along the food chain – all the way to humans.
This TED talk, http://www.ted.com/talks/dennis_vanengelsdorp_a_plea_for_bees.html provides an entertaining and informative explanation of the importance of bees. It’s worth the time to watch. You may begin to look at bees with a bit more respect, and understand that bees do not exist to annoy us … they actually help feed us.
Garden thoughtfully …