What are Neonicotinoids?
Neonicotinoids, also called in shorthand “neonics” are a popularly used insecticide, chemically related to nicotine. Growing in popularity because of its water solubility, neonics can be applied to soil to be taken up by plants.
The neonicotinoid family includes acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam, of which imidacloprid is the most widely used insecticide in the world. Acetamiprid is intended to control sucking insects on crops such as leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, pome fruits, grapes, cotton, cole crops, and ornamental plants. It is also a key pesticide in commercial cherry farming due to its effectiveness against the larvae of the cherry fruit fly. Clothianidin is authorized for spray, dust, soil drench (for uptake by plant roots), injectable liquid (into tree limbs and trunks) and seed treatment uses, in which clothianidin coats seeds that take up the pesticide via the roots as the plant grows. Imidacloprid is used in agriculture as seed treatments, for indoor and outdoor insect control, home gardening and pet products. Nitenpyram is also used in agriculture and veterinary medicine to kill external parasites of livestock and pets. Nithiazine and thiaclopridare used to control of a variety of sucking and chewing insects, primarily aphids and whiteflies, on crops. Lastly, Thiamethoxam is an antimicrobial pesticide used in wood preservative and as a pesticide. These pesticides go by a variety of jug mixes including Marathon, and more.
Should Vermont Use Neonics?
Bee populations in Vermont have been declining in recent years Three of Vermont’s fifteen bumble bee species have gone completely extinct, and other species are declining in number.
Neonicotinoids come into contact with bees through direct spraying and residues as the chemicals can persist in the soil months or years after applications.
See the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets’ report on neonicotinoid pesticides, safety, and use here. Here’s the summary:
“Vermont should be prepared to exert regulatory oversight to take corrective actions when treated articles present unacceptable risks to the environment, pollinators or human health. As such, authority over treated articles is needed.
” (p 18)
We agree — Vermont must restrict neonic usage.