As part of an ongoing effort to raise consciousness about the potential threat to pollinators posed by neonicotinoid insecticides, the USEPA recently unveiled new pesticide labeling criteria. The new labels will contain a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions.
The recent announcement focuses on products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The EPA will be working with pesticide manufacturers to change labels so they are in compliance the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) safety standards.
In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health, showing scientific consensus that there are a complex set of stressors associated with honey bee declines, including loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure
Although there is no data presently connecting the use of these insecticides in turf to declining bee health, it may prudent for pesticide applicators to become reacquainted with product labels to ensure they are being used in a safe and responsible way. Current labels already include a hazard statement concerning the risk to pollinators posed by these insecticides.
The EPA also recently released new enforcement guidance to federal, state and tribal enforcement officials to enhance investigations of beekill incidents. When it comes to pesticides use, those of us in the turf industry really do need to be doing everything we can to avoid unnecessary risks.