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Impact of Currently Used or Potentially Useful Insecticides for Canola Agroecosystems on Bombus impatiens (Hymenoptera: Apidae), Megachile rotundata (Hymentoptera: Megachilidae), and Osmia lignaria (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae)

C. D. Scott-Dupree, L. Conroy, C. R. Harris
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/029.102.0125 177-182 First published online: 1 February 2009


Pest management practices may be contributing to a decline in wild bee populations in or near canola (Brassica napus L.) agroecosystems. The objective of this study was to investigate the direct contact toxicity of five technical grade insecticides—imidacloprid, clothianidin, deltamethrin, spinosad, and novaluron—currently used, or with potential for use in canola integrated pest management on bees that may forage in canola: common eastern bumble bees [Bombus impatiens (Cresson); hereafter bumble bees], alfalfa leafcutting bees [Megachile rotundata (F.)], and Osmia lignaria Cresson. Clothianidin and to a lesser extent imidacloprid were highly toxic to all three species, deltamethrin and spinosad were intermediate in toxicity, and novaluron was nontoxic. Bumble bees were generally more tolerant to the direct contact applications > O. lignaria > leafcutting bees. However, differences in relative toxicities between the three species were not consistent, e.g., whereas clothianidin was only 4.9 and 1.3× more toxic, deltamethrin was 53 and 68× more toxic to leafcutting bees than to bumble bees and O. lignaria, respectively. Laboratory assessment of direct contact toxicity, although useful, is only one measure of potential impact, and mortality under field conditions may differ greatly depending on management practices. Research conducted using only honey bees as the indicator species may not adequately reflect the risk posed by insecticides to wild bees because of their unique biology and differential susceptibility. Research programs focused on determining nontarget impact on pollinators should be expanded to include not only the honey bee but also wild bee species representative of the agricultural system under investigation.

  • bumble bee
  • alfalfa leafcutting bee
  • O. lignaria
  • insecticides
  • direct contact toxicity

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