Tuesday, July 5, 2011

STOP...You're Killing Them!!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted emergency approval for the use of the neonicotinoid pesticide dinotefuran to control brown marmorated stink bugs in seven eastern states. Dinotefuran is a member of the neonicotinoid family of systemic pesticides that is known to be highly toxic to bees and associated with Colony Collapse Disorder. The states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia had previously asked EPA for emergency approval of the pesticide due to a ballooning stink bug population. The short term emergency measure became effective June 24 and will expire on October 15 of this year.

Neonicotinoids, including dinotefuran, are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar and gutation droplets from which pollinators such as bees then forage and drink. Neonicotinoids kill sucking and chewing insects by disrupting their nervous systems. Beginning in the late 1990s, these systemic insecticides began to take over the seed treatment market. Clothianidin and imidacloprid are two of the most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides. Both are known to be toxic to insect pollinators, and are lead suspects as causal factors in honey bee colony collapse disorder.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a non-native species thought to have been accidentally introduced to North America from Asia in the 1990s. The pests were first identified in Allentown, PA and have since spread rapidly throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Because they are not native to this continent, they have no natural predators or ecological checks on population here, allowing their numbers to skyrocket.

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