Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A discussion on neonicotinoids

Here's a great discussion about neonicotinoids in response to a question posted on the Garden Professors Blog page on Facebook. (I have X'd out people's names.)

Neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides, which have been widely used on plants sold in garden centers. Now people are realizing that these poisons are detrimental to our pollinators. This discussion includes good solid resources The problem with most readily available information is lack of scientific references.

I hope you find this useful. Sustainable gardeners love their pollinators.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt
I've been asked by one of my editors to include information on neonicotinoids in a column on creating a bee-frendly herb garden. Her specific concern is that "Some theorize that bees may be dying, in part, because of the neonicotinoids that a lot of the big box stores (Home Depot, KMart) spray on their plants. " In light of recent discussions here about taking a hard look at sources, I did an online search and found the first page or two was loaded with reaction to a preliminary report published by the EPA in January, indicating there may be a problem. Many, if not all, of the sources listed were basically echoing the alarmist reactions to the EPA.
Getting to the heart of the matter for me - if young herbs are sprayed with neonicotinoids, how long would this last in the plant? For most of them it would be a minimum 2-3 months from spraying (i.e. before they were purchased by consumers in 4" pots) to nectar production. How long do neonicotinoids stay in plant tissue?


X Does this help? Seed coating affects bees...

LikeReply16 hrs
XX Here, this might help.


Everything I have read indicates more study is needed to determine a lot of things before we go and say "neonicotinoids are bad, m'kay."

LikeReply16 hrsEdited
XX The unhelpful answer is that it varies greatly by crop and you can't guess or make estimates easily - which is why the label for each product provide a different pre-harvest interval for each different edible crop it can be used on. (For example, this kind of info is helpfulhttp://www.ipm.iastate.edu/.../2012/3-21/imidacloprid.html.) Neonic residues in ornamentals was a topic during the Ornamental pest and disease workshop last week. The latest testing found that even among the plants being treated normally with neonics before being put on the shelf there was no amount over the EPA limits in the pollen just 6 weeks after planting. Interestingly, the ONLY spikes found in nectar residues were from Salvias. All that said, the big-box stores have already severely limited what their contracted growers can use on their plants, so you should first find out if neonics are being used on their herbs at all anymore.
LikeReply616 hrsEdited
XX One of the indicators is going to be whether or not the plant is an annual. Annuals tend to metabolize quicker and the chemical is gone in weeks.

Trees, on the other hand, can still be protected from insect damage for a year or more.
LikeReply114 mins
Ginny Stibolt

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XX The news picked up a now debunked Harvard study that was pointing the finger at Neonics, this is about thathttp://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-harvard-study-on.../
LikeReply415 hrs
XX Excellent author; he is very educated and well known in 'bee circles'
LikeReply110 hrs
Ginny Stibolt

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XX The plants come pre treated from the vendors there is no pesticide application by the stores. The plants are only part of the issue. Untrained staff selling pesticides is a bigger issue. Imidacloprid is the best selling neonic on the market and the box srotes move lots of it.
UnlikeReply211 hrsEdited
XX Good point
LikeReply11 hrs
XX I am a licensed chemical applicator in the state of Nevada. I am 100% organic as an arborist but beause of my license I get all kinds of pesticied industry product ads and information about products in development. The information is shocking and includes ways to sell up to customers and dodge questions about the actual toxicity of the chemicals.
LikeReply111 hrs
XX I believe it! I was licensed in PA but now work on the state research and extension side of things. You're in a better position to hear what goes on at ground level. The imidacloprid overuse and abuse in the landscaping and poorly trained arborist industry is also pretty scary.
LikeReply111 hrs
XX Some people claim a lot on Facebook trying to seem like they have the authority to make a case. The top left is the chem applicatir license
LikeReply10 hrs
XX True, that's a handy pic to keep around!
LikeReply10 hrs
XX I know this is primarily anecdotal, but I raise honeybees and have the following notes: I use neonics, but I read directions and apply carefully. I do not use them on plants I don't think will need it during the year (no unnecessary application.) In addition, I NEVER apply during bloom. For plants such as fruit trees, I try to apply through the soil AFTER bloom, because I expect it to have a 'lag' time as it is distributed/processed through the plant, so I want the bees to have the lowest dose possible. I keep additional products to a minimum, since some products can have a synergistic effect. Note: although I'm not a plant scientist, I have taken graduate courses in toxicology and try to use what I know.
LikeReply110 hrsEdited
XX Have only had time to skip through it but of my 60 ebooks on beekeeping this one seems pretty good and reserched
LikeReply10 hrs
XX My BEES & HONEY folder of my ebook library.
LikeReply10 hrs
XX Bedding plant growers are getting away from neonics due to public demand. The growers I buy from don't use them. Tell people to ask their retailer if they're concerned about it. Or, of course, they can buy certified organic plants.
LikeReply8 hrs
XX There is no way, short of expensive testing to really know if the supplier is telling the truth. When Armstrong bought out DoRights I got 3 different answers from the new company. How do you ensure that your suppliers are being honest?
LikeReply8 hrsEdited
XX How do you ensure that anyone is being honest, Brian?
LikeReply8 hrs
XX But, to answer your question: I ask the owners directly.
LikeReply8 hrs
XX Good point.
LikeReply8 hrs
XX Armstrong has their policy posted here. They use neonicotinoid drench.http://www.armstronggarden.com/pages/about-us/environmental-commitment/bee-health-and-armstrong-garden-centers
LikeReply17 hrs
Ginny Stibolt

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X Here's a 30 page document from Michigan State University that looks at the over "good for pollinators" landscape. http://www.greenhousegrower.com/varieties/which-annuals-and-perennials-are-good-for-pollinators/

It could be a useful source.

>>How to protect and increase pollinators in your landscape

“Protecting and enhancing pollinators in urban landscapes for the US North Central Region” provides information for landscapers and gardeners who want to attract pollinators and protect them during pest management tactics or pesticide applications.<<
LikeReply17 mins

XX In reply to your editors, you should point out that the Home Depot incident was popularly misconstrued and that the bee deaths had nothing to do with bedding plants but instead a result of spraying parking lot trees in bloom while they were being visited by bees. As for the stability and persistence of imidacloprid (by far the most common neonic), we know that it protects ash threes from EAB
LikeReplyJust now

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