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Beyond neonicotinoids – Wild pollinators are exposed to a range of pesticides while foraging in agroecosystems

December 1, 2020

Pesticide exposure is a growing global concern for pollinator conservation. While most current pesticide studies have specifically focused on the impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides toward honeybees and some native bee species, wild pollinators may be exposed to a broader range of agrochemicals. In 2016 and 2017 we collected a total of 637 wild bees and butterflies from the margins of cultivated agricultural fields situated on five Conservation Areas in mid-northern Missouri. Pollinators were composited by individual genera (90 samples) and whole tissues were then analyzed for the presence of 168 pesticides and degradation products. At least one pesticide was detected (% frequency) in the following wild bee genera: Bombus (96%), Eucera (75%), Melissodes (73%), Ptilothrix (50%), Xylocopa (50%), and Megachile (17%). Similarly, at least one pesticide was detected in the following lepidopteran genera: Hemaris (100%), Hylephila (75%), Danaus (60%), and Colias (50%). Active ingredients detected in >2% of overall pollinator samples were as follows: metolachlor (24%), tebuconazole (22%), atrazine (18%), imidacloprid desnitro (13%), bifenthrin (9%), flumetralin (9%), p, p'-DDD (6%), tebupirimfos (4%), fludioxonil (4%), flutriafol (3%), cyproconazole (2%), and oxadiazon (2%). Concentrations of individual pesticides ranged from 2 to 174 ng/g. Results of this pilot field study indicate that wild pollinators are exposed to and are potentially bioaccumulating a wide variety of pesticides in addition to neonicotinoids. Here, we provide evidence that wild bee and butterfly genera may face exposure to a wide range of insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides despite being collected from areas managed for conservation. Therefore, even with the presence of extensive habitat, minimal agricultural activity on Conservation Areas may expose pollinators to a range of pesticides.

Publication Year 2020
Title Beyond neonicotinoids – Wild pollinators are exposed to a range of pesticides while foraging in agroecosystems
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140436
Authors A.R. Main, Michelle Hladik, Elisabeth B. Webb, K. W. Goyne, D. Mengel
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70228595
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta