By Brian Hefty
Is it just me or does it seem like we as farmers are constantly under attack from non-farmers? One of the latest issues that has come up is that some people believe bees are being killed by the neonicotinoid insecticide family, which includes Gaucho, Poncho, and Cruiser.
Of course, there are scientists with an opposing view who say almost all bee damage comes from other factors, including diseases and non-pesticide related issues. Here’s our take on this. As I have talked to entomologists, they have told me that there is very little chance a correct seed treatment application (such as CruiserMaxx on soybeans, Poncho on seed corn, or Gaucho on wheat) would ever do much harm to bees. However, the entomologists I’ve visited with believe that a post-emerge application of any of these products is far more likely to kill bees.
If you are spraying insecticide right now on your farm, what this means for you is we recommend you avoid pesticides containing neonicotinoids whenever possible. For example, Leverage and Endigo both contain the active ingredient found in Gaucho. While this may add some residual, we really don’t see any short-term control benefits in most cases. What I’m saying is if you use a different insecticide instead you should be able to get the same bug control without jeopardizing the reputation of the neonicotinoid family.
Don’t get me wrong. Most insecticides will kill bees if the bees are in the path of the spray application. The big issue is that we simply don’t want to lose the neonicotinoid chemistry family or have its use restricted because when it comes to seed treatments, nothing touches Gaucho, Poncho, and Cruiser in terms of efficacy, human safety, cost, and safety to the seed.
I know that when you read this you may simply say “Leverage and Endigo are labeled. They work fine, and I want to keep using them.” I’m just asking you to look at the big picture. If we lose the neonicotinoid family of seed treatments, we’re in trouble in a lot of different crops. I don’t want that to happen, and I doubt you do either. Worse yet, if environmentalists get their way, taking these products off the market, what’s next? Give it some thought before you make your post-emerge insecticide decisions this year and in the future.