Mitigating Pollinator Decline in Minnesota
U of MN
Research will investigate the accumulation of systemic insecticides in nectar and pollen on mortality and behavior of pollinators. Systemic insecticides are applied to the soil, absorbed by the roots, and distributed throughout the plant. Recently, these insecticides were suggested as one factor behind Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is causing enormous loss of honey bees. Also, bumble bees are in decline, which may be due to insecticides used in landscapes.
Systemic neonicotinyl insecticides, such as imidacloprid, are banned in Germany and France for use on corn and canola seed, since the chemical was translocated from seed to nectar and pollen and altered behavior and killed honey bees. In the US, imidacloprid is applied to landscape plants at 800 times higher rate and when the plant is flowering so more chemical is moved to nectar and pollen. Besides our preliminary work at the University of Minnesota, research has not investigated the contribution of these higher levels used in landscapes on pollinator decline.
Outcomes are to mitigate pollinator decline by the development of landscape management recommendations that use insecticides that do not kill pollinators for managing pest insects. Also, for urban landscapes a list of pollinator-friendly plants that provide food throughout the season will be developed through research. Talks, workshops, bulletins, and website on promoting pollinators will be delivered to homeowner and professional communities to help save pollinators. An email listserve to the"Outreach Committee" will disseminate information to change management practices to mitigate pollinator decline.