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Your Own Personal Killing Field
updated: Jul 10, 2014, 2:00 PM

By Lisa Ann Kelly

Honeybee and hollyhock

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Has anyone told you that your flowering plants are killing off the honeybees and butterflies that visit your garden? Have you heard of the studies being done on the effects of neonicotinoids? If you don't have a clue, well, then it's high time you learned about the dastardly effects these chemicals are having on the very insects you so innocently and ignorantly thought you were nurturing.

Prepare yourself for a bit of a shock. Guess who's been selling you these chemically contaminated plants? If you've been buying your flowering plants at the Big-Box Stores (Home Depot, Lowe's, Orchard Supply Hardware), you should know that it is highly likely all of those plants are laced with----- yep, you guessed it-----neonicontinoids. Plants such as lavender, primrose, daisies and asters. If you haven't bought any of those four plants, don't think you've dodged the bullet. There's a list of 71 different species of flowering plants, sold by these home improvement stores, and all of the plants have been found to contain neonicotinoids.

By installing these tainted plants in your landscape you are inadvertently unleashing hell upon your honeybees and butterflies. If the chemically-laced plants don't kill the insects outright, there's always the fact that neonicotinoids have been found to suppress immune systems and interfere with navigation. Either way, the feast you're providing is a deadly one.

Neonicotinoids, sometimes known as "neonics," are "neuroactive" insecticides. This means these toxic chemicals interact with or directly affect the nervous system. Neonicotinoids supposedly have a "low mammalian toxicity," but most definitely they are wreaking havoc on the insect world: specifically on honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies. In all probability a wider range of nectar-feeding and pollen-gathering insects are being adversely affected, as well. Who knows? For now, all that's being studied are the more common visitors to our garden flowers.

Takepart.com, in an article titled "Home Depot Decides Secret Pesticides Probably Don't Belong in Bee-Friendly Plants," recently alerted the public to the fact that this one Superstore soon will require its plant providers to label flowering plants as containing neonicotinoids. Do you find the news of this labeling reassuring? What about the plants you've already installed in your garden? Do you think it's only the Big-Box stores that have been selling these poison-laced plants?

Dr. Alex Lu, Associate Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology at Harvard University, conducted a study of neonicotinoids. His findings show that these systemic pesticides are at least partly responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder. He names two of the most "popular" pesticides: iminocloprid and clothianidin. Both chemicals are neonics. Both also are the main ingredients in many, many household and garden products.

There's a lot of information; it's definitely snowballing. For now, we all need to get busy practicing preventative medicine. If we treasure the wildlife that comes to our gardens, we need to get busy reading labels and give serious thought to where and from whom we purchase our plants. We need to work to keep neonicotinoids out of our gardens.

The solution that would lend the greatest peace of mind, the solution that would keep our gardens safe for honeybees and butterflies and other insects, would be to buy only organically grown plants and seeds. When purchasing seed to start plants, we need to be wary of buying seeds that have been treated with neonics. Buying organic plants and seeds would be a good start.

The smartest and kindest thing to do is to keep pesticides out of our gardens altogether. Avoid plants and products containing neonicotinoids. We need to provide the honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies with a nontoxic food source. We'll be helping them and ourselves. Imagine a world without our winged friends buzzing around, pollinating our fruit trees, and colorfully fluttering through our garden oases. Think on how diminished and dull our lives and souls would be, were it not for these remarkable beings.

List of common neonicotinoids: Acetamiprid Clothianidin Dinotefuran Imidacloprid Thiamethoxam


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