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expert reaction to study looking at neonicotinoid pesticides and bumblebees in the field

Publishing in Journal of Applied Ecology, a group of researchers examined the effect of exposure to three specific neonicotinoid pesticides on bumblebee colonies in a field setting and reported changes to colony numbers with some pesticides (for imidacloprid or thiamethoxam) more than with others (clothiandin).

All our previous output on this subject can be seen at here.


Dr Christopher Connolly, Reader in Neurobiology and Associate Director of the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience, University of Dundee, said:

“This study investigates one of the three currently banned neonicotinoids and replicates previously published work (Moffat 2016) and comes to the same conclusion, that clothiandin does not exhibit the same level of toxicity to bumblebees as demonstrated for imidacloprid or thiamethoxam.

“This is important as it demonstrates further that neonicotinoids need to be considered independently. Moreover, other beneficial species are likely to have different sensitivities to each neonicotinoid. Therefore, a pragmatic approach is required where the risk of a particular neonicotinoid is matched to a particular species.

“It is possible that by matching the use of a neonicotinoid to crops pollinated by resistant bee species, it may be possible to reduce the environmental risk to bees. However, without further evidence on the chemical’s risk to others beneficial species and its persistence in the soil, such an approach would be overly simplistic.”


‘Impact of controlled neonicotinoid exposure on bumblebees in a realistic field setting’ by Andres N. Arce et al. published in the Journal of Applied Ecology on Wednesday 12 October 2016. 



Declared interests

Dr Christopher Connolly: “I have no special interest to declare.”

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