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Environment: USGS study shows neonicotinoid pesticide pollution common in Midwest streams

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Bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides widespread in Midwest streams, USGS study finds. bberwyn photo.

Concentrations in some streams are high enough to kill aquatic organisms

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey studying streams in the Midwest have found levels of neonicotinoid insecticides at up to 20 times the concentrations deemed toxic to aquatic organisms. The systemic pesticides have raised concerns because they’ve been linked with honey bee declines.

Traces of the chemicals were widespread in streams throughout the region — not surprising in the heart of the country’s agricultural belt. In all, nine rivers and streams, including the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, were included in the study. The rivers studied drain most of Iowa, and parts of Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. These states have the highest use of neonicotinoid insecticides in the Nation, and the chemicals were found in all nine rivers and streams. Continue reading

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Environment: Another silent spring?

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Systemic neocotinoid pesticides are starting to affect bird populations, according to research.

Neonicotinoid use linked with decline in bird populations

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Populations of some insect-eating bird species are declining in areas where scientists measured high concentrations of a widely used neonicotinoid pesticide.

In some cases, bird numbers are dwindling by as much as 3.5 percent annually, according to the new study by researchers with Radboud University in Nijmegen and the Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology and Birdlife Netherlands. Continue reading

Environment: Bumblebees lose foraging skills after exposure to systemic neonicotinoid pesticides

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A bumblebee foraging on fireweed. @bberwyn photo.

‘Exposure to this neonicotinoid pesticide seems to prevent bees from being able to learn these essential skills’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Bumblebees carrying tiny transmitters have helped show how long-term exposure to systemic neonicotinoid pesticides prevents the insects from learning all the skills they need to forage for pollen.

The study was co-authored by University of Guelph scientist Nigel Raine and published in the British Ecological Society’s journal Functional Ecology.
Continue reading

Environment: Honey bee mortality drops slightly

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A bumblebee searches for pollen on a wildflower in Frisco, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Colonies still dying off at an unsustainable rate

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Honey bee colonies continues to die off at an alarming rate last year, with beekeepers reporting that they lost 23.2 percent of their colonies during the 2013-2014 winter. The preliminary numbers are from a survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The drop in mortality may be a small ray of hope in an otherwise bleak picture, showing mortality that is not economically sustainable for beekeepers. Of course it’s not just honey that’s at stake. Commercial beekeepers truck thousands of hives around the country to help pollinate many commercial food crops. Continue reading

Environment: EPA to boost reviews for pesticide impacts to endangered species

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Will the EPA follow through on its new policies to better analyze pesticide impacts to endangered species?

Conservation advocates say new guidelines are a good first step

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Endangered species may get more protection from pesticides under new guidelines that require federal agencies to better assess the risks posed by toxic chemicals.

The policies will ensure that mitigation measures recommended by the federal wildlife agencies are put in place to protect endangered species in agricultural areas, as well as in areas downstream that are affected by pesticide runoff.

According to environmentalists, the EPA has routinely ignored the Endangered Species Act for more than two decades by failing to consult with wildlife agencies on pesticide impacts. In 2011 Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences to study this issue and report on ways of addressing the EPA’s failures to fully protect listed species. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Feds agree to study pesticide impacts to rare frogs in California

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USGS sampling found that Pacific chorus frogs in many remote Sierra Nevada locations are contaminated by pesticides and fungicides used in agricultural production in California’s Central Valley. Photo courtesy USGS.

Court settlement may ultimately help protect endangered amphibians

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a classic case of government do-nothingism, federal agencies have known for years that pesticides are killing rare California frogs — but have failed to act to protect the amphibians from the poisons.

But that should change soon, as a federal court this week approved a deal that requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare detailed environmental studies on the effects of seven common pesticides: Glyphosate, malathion, simazine, pendimethalin, permethrin, methomyl and myclobutanil.

The studies, called biological opinions in government jargon, will evaluate and disclose how the use of those chemicals affects California’s red-legged frogs when they’re used in and near the frog’s aquatic and upland habitats. Continue reading

Study: Low-level pesticide exposure causes bees to stop working for their colonies

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Bees are suffering from exposure to pesticides.

More evidence showing that systemic neonicotinoids are having a significant impact

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Even if systemic neonicotinoid pesticides don’t kill bees directly, they are contributing to the collapse of honey bee colonies, according to new research by scientists from Royal Holloway University.

Low-level exposure can change bees’ behavior, causing them to  stop working properly for their colonies. The results suggest that exposure to pesticides at levels bees encounter in the field, has subtle impacts on individual bees, and can eventually make colonies fail. Continue reading

Environment: Frogs up and down the Sierra Nevada are tainted with pesticides from the Central Valley

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USGS sampling found that Pacific chorus frogs in many remote Sierra Nevada locations are contaminated by pesticides and fungicides used in agricultural production in California’s Central Valley. Photo courtesy USGS.

Study even finds trace remnants of DDT, banned 40 years ago

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Frogs in remote Sierra Nevada backcountry ponds are contaminated with traces of pesticides, including a byproduct of DDT, which was banned more than 40 years ago, showing how long some pollutants can persist in the environment.

The chemicals are heavily used in California’s Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, and transported via wind, dust and precipitation to the High Sierra. Continue reading

Environment: Pesticides may be at the root of bee, bat and amphibian die-offs

Suppressed immune systems making insect-eating species more susceptible to different pathogens

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Two years ago, this species of bee vanished from local flowerbeds in Frisco, Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Waves of emerging wildlife diseases that are killing huge numbers of insect-eating animals could all be linked to the use of a new class of pesticides, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Environmental Immunology and Toxicology.

Neonicotinoids and related pesticides may be suppressing the immune system of bees, bats and even amphibians, making them much more susceptible to parasites, viruses and fungal infections, the researchers found after comparing geographical patterns of emerging diseases with the use of neonicotinoids.

Insects feeding on the pollen and nectar of crops treated with the pesticides absorb the chemicals and the poison is subsequently passed on to animals higher up the food chain that prey on those bugs, the scientists hypothesized, citing evidence of deviation from normal pathogen-host relationships. Continue reading

Beekeepers fight EPA’s pesticide approval in court

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Honey bees are in trouble, and more pesticides won’t help.

Concern over pollination services and colony collapse drive legal challenge

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Beekeepers around the country are feeling stung by the EPA’s approval of a new pesticide that’s known to be toxic to bees, and are headed to court to try and prove that the EPA didn’t consider all the facts when it gave the go-ahead for Sulfoxaflor.

The new pesticide was developed because some insect pests have developed a resistance to older pesticides, but it’s related to the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, which scientists across the globe have linked as a potential factor to widespread and massive bee colony collapse.

The lawsuit comes as beekeepers across the country struggles for survival. Just in the past few months, Florida beekeepers have reported losing 1,300 hives, with even greater losses in Minnesota (2,312 hives). By some estimates, about 10 million bee hives, valued at about $200 each, have been lost, costing beekeepers a total of $2 billion. Continue reading

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