Pesticides can impair the behaviour of bumble bees and affect their ability to eat and rear their young, a new study has shown. The research - which allowed humans to take a closer look at the bee in its environment - revealed how the pesticide neonicotinoid can harm its behaviour. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. The most commonly used to control weeds and pests are Bayer and Ortho products. The findings add to a long-standing list of concerns about these critical creatures that pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90 per cent of the world.
Science hasn't been giving us a tremendous amount of good news these days. We've screwed up the environment so badly, it's hard to even call it an environment anymore. And that's coming back to bite (or sting) us: Bee populations, which we rely on to pollinate our crops, are plummeting. But science is also coming to the rescue, by gluing QR codes to bumblebees' backs and tracking their movements with a robotic camera. Researchers have created a system that tracks individual bees as well as the dynamics of whole colonies exposed to imidacloprid, a neurotoxin that belongs to the infamous neonicotinoid group of pesticides.
Damselfly populations are being harmed by insecticides as researchers find the wildlife scourge of neonicotinoids continues to grow. Some chemicals in this group have already been banned by the EU but thiacloprid is still in widespread use. Similar chemicals in the neonicotinoid family have already been tied to severe decline in bee populations and now it appears the damage is more widespread. The team exposed caged and free-flying damselflies to realistic concentrations of the chemical in test ditches and found infected animals ate less, were less active and had a slowed reproductive growth rate. It was previously thought to only affect insects that eat the treated crop but Dutch scientists have found it has wider-reaching implications for various pollinators as well.
Retailers appear to be selling fewer ornamental plants laced with pesticides linked to bee population declines, according to a new report. Less than a quarter of the trees and flowers from stores and nurseries tested by environmental activists contained pesticides at levels that could be harmful to bees, which are vital to pollinating many of the nation's food crops. Two previous reports, in 2013 and 2014, revealed that more than half of the samples contained potentially dangerous levels of chemicals linked to bee deaths. "Our data indicates that compared to two years ago, fewer nurseries and garden stores are selling plants pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides," said Susan Kegley, a chemist at the Pesticide Research Institute and lead author of the report released Tuesday by the institute and Friends of the Earth. Neonicotinoids, which mimic nicotine insecticides produced naturally in leafy plants, have been linked to the decline of bee populations.