Pollinator Health and Pesticides

As a general rule, insecticides are more toxic to pollinators than fungicides and herbicides, but not all insecticides are toxic to pollinators.
Pollinator Health and Pesticides - Articles

Updated: September 7, 2017

Pollinator Health and Pesticides

Butterflies dance from one flower to another while honey bees gather pollen to take back to the hive for the production of honey. This is pollination at its best, but pollination is also done by other bee species, some beetles, certain wasps, some flies, etc. There are over 4,000 species of bees in the U.S., in addition to the honey bee, that play an important role in pollinating many crops.

Keep in mind that pollination is vital to the production of seeds and fruits on many plants. Experts estimate that one-third of the human food supply depends on pollination. These pollinators are found on the blooming flowers of crops, trees, shrubs, weeds, and native vegetation where they gather nectar and pollen. Because these areas visited by pollinators are many of the same areas being treated with pesticides, much concern has developed for the safety of pollinators and a lot of press related to pollinator health has brought attention to this issue.

The Pollinator Protection Checklist

The coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship has developed a Pollinator Protection Checklist to serve as a reminder of good practices to follow for all pesticide applicators.

  1. Read and follow all pesticide label directions and precautions.
  2. Determine if the pesticide may be toxic to pollinators.
  3. Understand local pollinator visitation habits.
  4. Use an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.
  5. Always follow good pesticide stewardship practices.
  6. Cooperate and communicate with others who are concerned about preserving beneficial insects, including pollinators.
  7. Know the common symptoms of honey bee exposure to pesticides and what other stressors impact bee health.
  8. Check for specific local ordinances pertaining to pollinators, especially beehive locations or designated preserves (if applicable).

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