Insecticides And Honey Bees: Neonicotinoids Threat To Insect Population

First Posted: Jul 08, 2015 02:27 PM EDT

New findings published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology investigate the use of insecticides--specifically neonicotinoids--and their effects on the decline of the honey bee population. Although sunlight plays an important role in degrading pollutants, its effects on neonicotinoids may diminish, particularly when exposed to water. 

In order to protect crops from pests, including whiteflies, beetles and termites, neonicotinoids are often used as a popular protection tool among farmers. However, they end up washing into the surface waters and soil. Furthermore, some research has even suggested that insecticides may play a role in the disappearance of bees--a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. Yet scientists don't fully understand the fate of neonicotinoids in the environment, with an important factor in determining just how they might contribute to the disorder.

For the study, researchers looked to investigate the sunlight's effects on these insecticides in the water. They tested five neonicotinoids in water under simulated sunny conditions and within minutes, three degraded considerably, according to researchers. And while two took a few days to break down, a depth of just 3 inches of water was enough to shield at least one, thiamethoxam, from the sun.

The researchers noted that at a persistent rate with shallow depth, this could increase insecticide exposure to both aquatic life and other wildlife exposure.

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