Concept: Imidacloprid effects on bee population
Growing evidence for global pollinator decline is causing concern for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services maintenance. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been identified or suspected as a key factor responsible for this decline. We assessed the global exposure of pollinators to neonicotinoids by analyzing 198 honey samples from across the world. We found at least one of five tested compounds (acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam) in 75% of all samples, 45% of samples contained two or more of these compounds, and 10% contained four or five. Our results confirm the exposure of bees to neonicotinoids in their food throughout the world. The coexistence of neonicotinoids and other pesticides may increase harm to pollinators. However, the concentrations detected are below the maximum residue level authorized for human consumption (average ± standard error for positive samples: 1.8 ± 0.56 nanograms per gram).
Neonicotinoid seed treatments, typically clothianidin or thiamethoxam, are routinely applied to >80% of maize (corn) seed grown in North America where they are marketed as a targeted pesticide delivery system. Despite this widespread use, the amount of compound translocated into plant tissue from the initial seed treatment to provide protection has not been reported. Our two year field study compared concentrations of clothianidin seed treatments in maize to that of maize without neonicotinoid seed treatments and found neonicotinoids present in root tissues up to 34 days post planting. Plant-bound clothianidin concentrations followed an exponential decay pattern with initially high values followed by a rapid decrease within the first ~20 days post planting. A maximum of 1.34% of the initial seed treatment was successfully recovered from plant tissues in both study years and a maximum of 0.26% was recovered from root tissue. Our findings show neonicotinoid seed treatments may provide protection from some early season secondary maize pests. However, the proportion of the neonicotinoid seed treatment clothianidin translocated into plant tissues throughout the growing season is low overall and this observation may provide a mechanism to explain reports of inconsistent efficacy of this pest management approach and increasing detections of environmental neonicotinoids.
Neonicotinoids currently dominate the insecticide market as seed treatments on Canada’s major Prairie crops (e.g., canola). The potential impact to ecologically significant wetlands in this dominantly agro-environment has largely been overlooked while the distribution of use, incidence and level of contamination remains unreported. We modelled the spatial distribution of neonicotinoid use across the three Prairie Provinces in combination with temporal assessments of water and sediment concentrations in wetlands to measure four active ingredients (clothianidin, thiamethoxam, imidacloprid and acetamiprid). From 2009 to 2012, neonicotinoid use was increasing; by 2012, applications covered an estimated ∼11 million hectares (44% of Prairie cropland) with >216,000 kg of active ingredients. Thiamethoxam, followed by clothianidin, were the dominant seed treatments by mass and area. Areas of high neonicotinoid use were identified as high density canola or soybean production. Water sampled four times from 136 wetlands (spring, summer, fall 2012 and spring 2013) across four rural municipalities in Saskatchewan similarly revealed clothianidin and thiamethoxam in the majority of samples. In spring 2012 prior to seeding, 36% of wetlands contained at least one neonicotinoid. Detections increased to 62% in summer 2012, declined to 16% in fall, and increased to 91% the following spring 2013 after ice-off. Peak concentrations were recorded during summer 2012 for both thiamethoxam (range: