Gardening Tips and Highlights Waushara County Master Gardeners

Pesticides and Pollinators by Christine Yesko

Nothing gets people more riled up than the subject of pesticides. Of course, many people are advised to avoid them whenever possible, because they are one of the biggest threats to pollinators, but it’s more the misinformation surrounding them and their use that bothers most. People often claim they do not use chemicals; however, it’s important to use the right terminology when discussing such a crucial topic. Instead of labeling them bug-killers and weed-killers, society should call them by their proper names. Pesticides are substances that kill pests. Among them are insecticides that kill insects, miticides that kill mites, fungicides that kill fungus; you can see where this is going. “Bug spray” doesn’t know the difference between good bugs and bad bugs. Insecticides have the most potential to harm or kill vital pollinators. They affect bees and butterflies (as adults or larvae) both directly and indirectly. Some insecticides kill on contact, working by drying out the insect’s exoskeleton. Others may affect the insect’s nervous system. 

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