Garden-care company Ortho says it plans to stop using chemicals widely believed to harm bees by 2021.
The pesticides, called neonicotinoids, are meant to kill insects that attack your hydrangeas or peonies. They are also used on crop fields. But a growing body of evidence suggests they harm bees. Iowa State University’s Mary Harris studies bees.
“There’ve been lots of studies where neonicotinoids affect all kinds of aspects of bees, besides being acutely toxic,” Harris says.
Neurological damage, for example, can prevent bees from returning to the hive. Harris says it’s an important decision, but she doesn’t think neonicotinoids, which are also used on farm crops, should be banned completely.
“I absolutely think there’s a place for them. When they came in the market in the late 80s or early 90s, they were a fabulous new group of chemicals that had a unique mode of action,” according to Harris. Used in rotation with other pest management strategies, Harris says, the neonicotinoids can still be effective. She thinks the Ortho move will raise public awareness and cut down on overuse in the garden.
Thanks to Amy Mayer Iowa Public Radio.