Monday, May 17, 2010

Protecting Pollinators when Using Pesticides

Populations of pollinating insects have declined over the past several years for a number of reasons, including pesticide use. While eliminating the use of pesticides may not be feasible, there are some things that can be done to use pesticides more safely and protect insect pollinators.

1.  Try not to apply insecticides when plants are blooming, especially if pollinators are working those plants. Remember that even if pollinators are not working a field, they may be working the field margins.

2.  Use insecticides with minimal residual toxicity.

3.  Notify beekeepers with hives in the area that you are planning on spraying.

4.  If possible, apply insecticides early in the morning or late in the evening as insect pollinators are usually not flying then.

5.  If you have a choice between using a liquid or dust product, use the liquid as it is safer for bees and other insects.

6.  Utilize other control options instead of chemicals as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

Remember that most insecticides are highly toxic to bees and other pollinators. While it may not be possible to get by without using insecticides, utilizing the above options will make it safer for these beneficial insects.

by Travis Harper, MU Extension Agronomy Specialist

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