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Posted 14 April 2010. PMN Crop News.

Protect Pollinators When Using Pesticides

Source: University of Missouri Press Release.

Blue Springs, Missouri (April 7, 2010)--We rely on bees and other pollinators for much of the food we eat. Because most insecticides are highly toxic to pollinators, a University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist urges people to use pesticides with care.


“Pollinators are as important to a crop as fertilizer. Without them, plant growth would suffer,” said Travis Harper.

Populations of pollinating insects have been declining over the last 50 years, Harper said. Reasons include urban development, monoculture cropping, human fear of stinging insects, and pesticide use.

“We may not be able to get by without using insecticides, but there are some things we can do to use pesticides more safely and protect our insect pollinators,” he said.

• Try not to apply insecticides when plants are blooming, especially if pollinators are working those plants. Remember that even if pollinators are not working a field, they may be working the field margins.

• Use insecticides with minimal residual toxicity.

• Notify beekeepers with hives in the area that you are planning to spray.

• If possible, apply insecticides early in the morning or late in the evening, when insect pollinators usually aren’t flying.

• If you have a choice between a liquid or dust product, use the liquid, which is safer for bees and other insects.

• Consider other control options instead of chemicals as part of an Integrated Pest Management program. For more information about IPM, contact your local MU Extension office or see

Travis Harper