Widespread Use of Neonicotinoids Poses Risks to More Than Bees
A report released this week by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation moves the spotlight from the risks neonicotinoids pose to bees to the impacts of neonicotinoids to invertebrates such as earthworms or lady beetles.
Beyond the Birds and the Bees provides a comprehensive review of published articles and pulls together the growing body of research that demonstrates risks from neonicotinoids to these beneficial insects. These risks occur particularly in agricultural systems, but are also found in urban and suburban ornamental landscapes.
Findings from the Review:
- Although neonicotinoids have been promoted as safer for beneficial insects than older insecticides, the balance of evidence suggests that neonicotinoids are generally harmful to a variety of beneficial insects.
- Widespread preemptive application of neonicotinoids (or any pesticide) represents a fundamental shift away from Integrated Pest Management, since chemicals are frequently applied before pest damage has occurred, and often in the absence of any current pest abundance data.
- Use of neonicotinoid seed treatments on annual field crops has increased dramatically in the last decade yet these treatments may not consistently result in yield benefits and can be less cost effective than other control measures.
- Though neonicotinoid seed treatments may be unnecessary or more expensive than other treatments in some circumstances, it is very challenging for farmers to obtain non-organic field crop seed that is not treated with neonicotinoids.
- Neonicotinoid resistance has been documented in a number of pests, including green peach aphid, whitefly, and Colorado potato beetle. The environmental persistence of neonicotinoids such as imidacloprid and clothianidin, coupled with their widespread use, can facilitate pest resistance.
- Although there has been less research on the impact of neonicotinoids to soil organisms, most studies to date have found that neonicotinoids may have negative effects on earthworms and other soil invertebrates.
Although less charismatic than bees, beneficial insects such as beetles and wasps play critical roles in healthy, functioning ecosystems. For example, predatory and parasitic insects and other arthropods provide natural pest suppression to farms—an ecosystem service conservatively valued at more than $4.5 billion annually—as well as to natural areas and developed landscapes.
Neonicotinoids are now the most widely used group of insecticides in the world, and their use in the U.S. has been steadily increasing since their initial registration in the mid-1990s. Neonicotinoids have been promoted as low-risk chemicals: low impact on human health, low toxicity to nontarget organisms, lower application rates and compatibility with Integrated Pest Management. Unfortunately, the many studies completed since these compounds began being used have not born out the validity of these assumptions.
Based on the Findings, Xerces Society's Recommendations:
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should re-assess the ecological safety of currently approved neonicotinoids and immediately suspend registration of imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran for all applications where there is a risk to nontarget organisms.
- The U.S. EPA should significantly speed up the registration review process for neonicotinoids. The risk from exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides needs to be scientifically evaluated against the risk posed to beneficial species by alternative control measures.
- The U.S. EPA should expand the number of nontarget terrestrial insect species used in the risk assessment process.
- The U.S. EPA should adopt risk assessment protocols for exposure to nontarget insects that account for cumulative and synergistic effects, effects of long-term exposure to low concentrations, and exposure to pesticides through pollen and nectar.
- The USDA Risk Management Agency’s Federal Crop Insurance Corporation should approve reductions in crop insurance premiums for producers who avoid prophylactic use of neonicotinoids where the pest pressure does not warrant use.
- The prophylactic use of neonicotinoids on crops should be halted. Neonicotinoids should only be used as part of an Integrated Pest Management plan.
- The use of neonicotinoids for cosmetic reasons (such as against aphids in parks and gardens) rather than economic reasons should be banned on city- and county-owned lands.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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