About Pesticides

The Risks of Pesticides to Pollinators

Pesticides (insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) can be topical or systemic, and can affect pollinators by:

  • Direct Contact when pesticides are applied on or near flowering plants.
  • Residual Contact when pollinators visit plants that have been previously treated.
    • When purchasing a plant, ask a store attendant if they can definitively say that their plants are pesticide free. Unless, of course, the label on the plant explicitly states that no pesticides were used. Neonicotinoid pesticides are especially harmful, and can stay in the plant for a season or more. The attendants may not be able to tell you definitively that no pesticides were used; it’s best to buy your plants from local nurseries who know the growers and seek out pesticide free plants.
  • Contaminated Nesting Material, for example when birds or bees collect nesting material, or when butterflies and moths lay eggs on a treated plant.
  • Contaminated Nesting Areas – native bees form nests in the ground and in plant cavities and can be affected by pesticide treatment.

Pesticides can affect insect reproduction, navigation and memory, and sometimes be lethal. Effects of pesticides may not be immediately visible, but can be devastating over wildlife generations.

Use organic pesticides with caution. Although they are less toxic and break down more quickly, they are not all safe for bees.


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