One of the best parts of any garden are the animals found delighting in what the garden has to offer. I find nothing so happy as a bee flitting from one pollen rich flower to another.
I have planted many plants that are known to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
So imagine my surprise when I heard that some of the very same flowers in our gardens that feed our happy neighbors may also be making them at best, prone to disease, and at worst, dead due to the insecticides
Many Dutch bulbs are treated with a family of insecticides called neonicotinoids. In particular an insecticide called Clothianidin made by Bayer has been investigated. Neonicotinoids act on the central nervous system causing paralysis and death by blocking neural pathways. They are meant to kill sucking insects like aphids and chewing insects. Treatment with this insecticide can be in the form of seed coating, plant dusting or foliar sprays. http://www.moraybeedinosaurs.co.uk/neonicotinoid/truth_about_the_neonicotinoid_insecticides.pdf
The insecticide functions through absorption by plants where its released in their pollen to kill pests. Its produced in Germany, and is banned in the very same country, as well as a number of other European countries like France and Italy, who have shown instances of bee death due to Clothianidin laden dust floating into fields where bees were foraging. The EPA has ignored the concerns of its own scientists and continue to approve the pesticide for use on large crops like corn, soy, wheat and sugar beets. It was first approved in 2003 and is believed to a be a contributor to the large number of crop pollinators in the last 10 years. The product has not been officially determined to have an affect on pollinators, so does not have a bee warning label like other products.
It is also known to be toxic to birds when chronically exposed to the pesticide.
Sadly, growers do not have to specify the insecticides used to promote the growth of their plants, so we do not know how many dutch bulbs are treated with this insecticide, but some believe its possible ALL dutch bulbs carry this insecticide. Even more disturbing is the chemical is known to persist in the soil and in plants for several years.
After reading this article about Clothianidin and its possible affects on pollinators I will be looking out for more information about this pesticide. I contacted Bayer via their website to confirm the contents of the Bayer rose treatment I use. Their reply stated the following:
The Bayer Advanced 2in1 Systemic Rose and Flower Care does not contain Clothianidin. Our only product / insecticide that contains Clothianidin is the Bayer Advanced 12 month Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed – Dual Action formula.
I will add the Tree product to my list of products not to purchase until more evidence is provided on the affects of the insecticide. If you have any questions about Bayer products in your garden, you can go to the following website. They are very helpful and forthcoming with their product ingredients.
Per Bayer’s website, Clothidian is sold for commercial use under the brand names of Poncho, Poncho Beta, and Prosper.
Imidacloprid is another insecticide in the same family as Clothianidin and reports have indicated many areas in Holland where the surface waters are contaminated with the insecticide outside farmland and has been affecting fauna dependent on insects such a bird populations. Many species are believed extinct, due in part to the pervasive use of insecticides in general.
Of note Imidacloprid is found in Advantage (Advocate), a flea killer for pets.