Environment

Wildflower contamination with neonicotinoids

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Science  13 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6385, pp. 167-168
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6385.167-c

Exposure to pesticide-contaminated wildflowers harms common blue butterflies.

PHOTO: LUSINE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Neonicotinoid pesticides are the most widely used type of insecticides, but there are concerns that they are toxic to nontarget species such as bees and butterflies. Basley and Goulson report on a combined field and laboratory experiment aimed at assessing the impact of neonicotinoids on the common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus). Wildflowers planted along the margins of fields of neonicotinoid-treated wheat were contaminated with the pesticide at levels similar to those in the treated crops. Common blue butterfly larvae exposed to neonicotinoid-contaminated plants showed increased mortality and reduced growth in the early stages of development. Wildflower margins that specifically aim to boost pollinator populations may chronically expose these species to harmful levels of neonicotinoids.

Environ. Sci. Technol. 52, 3990 (2018).

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