Coalition advisor orders review of professedly safe pesticides

Wednesday 30 March 2011

UK The Independent Systemic insecticide pesticides neonicotinoids honeybee

An article published in yesterday’s 'Independent' focuses on the connection between neonicotinoids and bees - specifically on another biological mechanism which may cause the death of bee colonies. Bayer markets one Imidacloprid-based product which specifically targets termites - social insects, which can only survive if the regularly groom each other, hundreds of times per day. Bayer's promotional literature markets the active ingredient - Imidacloprid - as being highly effective at killing termites because it 'inhibits grooming' in termites, which soon die as a result of invasion by a wide range of fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens. The termites grooming behaviour normally removes fungi, bacteria and viral particles from each other’s bodies - but when the neurotoxin prevents grooming - the pathogens rapidly kill the entire colony.

Photo Forager Pisenlit (abeille_pissenlit.jpg)It is also highly probable that grooming behaviour is the major form of social interaction and communication within a termite colony - exactly as it is with bees - and when the neurotoxic pesticide obstructs this communication behaviour, the colony cohesion collapses and they die.

So Bayer is marketing Imidacloprid on the basis that it stops physical grooming, social interaction and colony cohesion among termites - causing the rapid death of the colony.

The parallels between bees and termites are obvious - grooming is the basis of how both bees and termites maintain colony health, cohesion and communication. The act of grooming allows direct transfer and distribution of pheromones within the bee colony - so any reduction in grooming behaviour caused by Imidacloprid would lead to the collapse of the colony - both from a wide range of pathogen-infections and by social disintegration.

See Amanda Williams' website for a fuller description of the process and a VIDEO of bees grooming varroa mites.

Actually, Bayer Cropscience advertises the mechanism by which sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid, one of their neonicotinoids, kills colonies of Termites, which like bees, are social insects. The key is that disoriented social insects stop grooming and thus get infected with natural pathogens. Here is the quote from the Premise 200SC leaflet (download opens new window). Premise 200SC, is a Bayer product for Termites, which like bees, are social insects. The leaflet reads:

The termites are susceptible to diseases or fungi found in soil. A principle part of their defence mechanism is their grooming habits, which allows the termites to get rid of the fungal spores before these spores germinate and cause disease or death. Premise 200SC interferes with this natural process by lowering defence to nature’s own weaponry.

What is Premise 200SC plus Nature?

Low doses of imidacloprid such as the edge of the Treated Zone, disoriented the termites and caused them to cease their natural grooming behaviour. Grooming is important for termites to protect them against pathogenic soil fungi. When termites stop grooming, the naturally occurring fungi in the soil attack and kill the termites. Imidacloprid makes fungi 10,000 times more dangerous to termites. Nature assists imidacloprid in giving unsurpassed control. This control is called Premise 200SC plus Nature."