Girl Planting seeds

This tiny insect could be delivering toxic pesticides to honey bees and other beneficial bugs

A common pesticide may be causing more collateral damage than thought. According to a new study, neonicotinoids can kill beneficial insects such as honey bees, hoverflies, and parasitic wasps by contaminating honeydew, a sugar-rich liquid excreted by certain insects.  Researchers already knew neonicotinoids could harm honey bees and other beneficial insects when applied to important crops such as cotton, potato, and citrus. A 2017 study, for example, found the chemicals can poison bees, causing symptoms like paralysis, vomiting, or death when they eat contaminated nectar or pollen, or even crawl over sprayed surfaces. Yet neonicotinoids still account for more than 20% of the world’s insecticide market.  In the new study, scientists wanted to see whether the chemicals could harm these and other insects more indirectly. They looked to the invasive mealybug (pictured), a 6-millimeter-long insect that eats plants typically contaminated with pesticides. As they nosh, the bugs excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which pollinating insects like hoverflies and parasitic wasps consume.  Read more....

 

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