[Annual Cockroach Control Issue] Moving Day for Oriental Cockroaches – PCT
On May 19, the White House Pollinator Task Force released its much-anticipated strategy to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators.
Years of work behind the scenes by industry advocates paid off big time. “Overall, we were pleased with the outcome,” said Jim Fredericks, vice president of technical and regulatory affairs at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Strategy initiatives “are not so much going to impact the structural pest management industry,” he said.
Andrew Bray, NPMA regulatory affairs director, said the plan recognizes the multiple factors affecting pollinator health. “Instead of coming out and pointing fingers, the plan is more proactive,” he said, adding, it is a “measured approach and we’re pleased to see that.”
And, “it’s consistent with the science,” noted Fredericks. “We’re really happy it just wasn’t trying to identify a scapegoat,” namely pesticides. Many questions remain to be answered and “the strategy addresses that through increased research dollars, which I think is really great,” he added. Nearly $34 million in additional funding is proposed to help scientists better understand pollinator losses, improve pollinator health, and enhance pollinator habitat in fiscal year 2016.
The National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators has three main goals:
- Reduce honey bee colony losses (over- wintering mortality) to no more than 15 percent within 10 years
- Increase the monarch butterfly popu- lation to 225 million by 2020; and
- Restore or enhance 7 million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years through combined public and private action.
If there were any surprises, it was “how much of that plan was focused on Monarch butterflies,” said Fredericks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will announce in December whether it will list the butterfly as an endangered species.
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As part of the national strategy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requesting additional risk assessment data for 58 active ingredients now undergoing registration review to determine if they pose risks to pollinators or their habitat. (A new, comprehensive risk assessment will be required for all product registrations and registration reviews going forward; as such, EPA has placed the registration of new neonicotinoid use patterns on hold.)
Inclusion on this list only means that a risk assessment will be done; a risk to pollinators is “not implicit or implied,” said Karen Reardon, vice president of public affairs at Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE), which represents manufacturers, formulators and distributors in the discussion. Some of these active ingredients may require future mitigation, and some may not, she said.
The National Pest Management Association recently unveiled two websites to help members navigate pollinator issues:
Pollinatorhealth.org is a consumer-facing, science-based website where members can send customers to learn about pollinator issues. It also explains the difference between bees, hornets and wasps.
Pollinatorfacts.org gives PMPs access to NPMA’s best management practices for pollinator protection, templates for local advocacy efforts, and resources to help develop state pollinator protection plans, including contact information for the officials heading state efforts.
Three of the 58 active ingredients are used in the pest management industry, noted Fredericks.
Manufacturers are working to refine ecological risk protocols and generate data to meet the new assessment criteria. “We’re going to start getting some good information” and “a good sense of what may or may not need to be done,” said Reardon.
On May 28 EPA released a second list of 76 active ingredients that already meet its criteria for being acutely toxic to honey bees.
To mitigate exposure, EPA has proposed prohibiting foliar applications of these products when crops are in bloom and managed bees are present under contract for commercial pollination services. The agency believes this also will protect native bees and other pollinators that are in and around treatment areas.
For now, the focus is on protecting “managed honey bees that are doing contract pollination,” but “there may be non-ag applications that are contiguous, so we need clarity,” said Reardon. EPA likely will amend labels based on individual products and use patterns, she noted.
The vast majority of professionals performing structural pest management “won’t be affected by the label language that is proposed here,” said Fredericks. However, more than 20 active ingredients on the list have been or currently are used in the industry, he noted. The proposed changes will not replace existing language or create more restrictive label language (like the language introduced last summer for neonicotinoid products).
Show Your Support: Create Habitat
Pollinator habitat creation is an effort that’s gaining momentum. Some major initiatives include:
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s $3.2 million campaign to restore 200,000 acres of monarch butterfly habitat and provide habitat conservation grants.
- The Grain Farmers of Ontario Pollinator Task Force’s commitment to create 1 million acres of pollinator habitat on farm, private and public land across Ontario by 2018.
- The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a campaign to register 1 million public and private gardens and landscapes to support pollinators over the next two years. Partners include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Wildlife Federation, Pollinator Partnership and others.
- Bayer CropScience’s Feed a Bee project, which is providing free seeds to consumers to grow 50 million flowers and is working with partners to create thousands of acres of forage land.
- Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment’s 600-signature petition presented in April urging President Obama to create more pollinator forage areas on U.S.-managed and private lands, an initiative it has long supported. During Pollinator Week (June 15-19), it offered consumers tips for planting pollinator-attractive plants on its debugthemyths.org website.
- The National Pest Management Association’s call for volunteers to plant pollinator gardens in their communities as part of the “Plant Your Own Pollinator Garden” NPMA National Community Day of Service on Aug. 22 (National Honey Bee Day).
Every pollinator habitat counts, from window boxes and garden plots to golf courses, school gardens, and corporate and university campuses, the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge reports.
Here are tips for planning a pollinator garden at your office:
- Start small (a 4-foot by 6-foot spot works great). Keep the garden away from building entrances so bees don’t inadvertently find their way indoors.
- Plant pollinator-friendly flowers. Talk to your local nursery about the plants and seeds best suited for your region (visit www.pollinator.org/guides.htm to learn more) or use the Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Smart App (http://pollinator.org/beesmartapp.htm). Be sure to include native milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s sole food source.
- Engage employees in planning and tending the garden. This shouldn’t take much time with a small plot.
- Post a garden sign to boost pollinator awareness.
- Support a school or community pollinator garden with labor and/or funds if you don’t have space or the ability to plant a garden at the office.
- Register your garden as part of a national effort to help pollinators (http://millionpollinatorgardens.org).
State Pollinator Plans.
EPA also is encouraging states to develop State Managed Pollinator Protection Plans, “the biggest and most important next step for the (pest management) industry,” said Fredericks.
Plans generally are designed to reduce pesticide use and improve stakeholder communication, but they also could contain regulatory changes, noted Fredericks. EPA will not approve these plans, but is asking for public input on best practices and measurement metrics.
Why Does This Issue Matter?
Two years ago, an Oregon landscaper applied a dinotefuran product to trees in a parking lot, causing 50,000 bumblebees to die. The incident rallied the anti-pesticide lobby and focused the spotlight on urban pesticide use as a cause of declining bee populations.
Within two months, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had announced new label language for neonicotinoid products prohibiting their use where bees were present. And a flurry of public policy activity, research, lawsuits, protests, manufacturer and association initiatives, education campaigns, and media coverage have since take place. All have the potential to impact how pest management professionals operate and communicate with customers. This is why PCT continues to track this evolving issue.
A few states already have plans in place; others are developing them based on guidance documents created by the Association of Structural Pest Control Regulatory Officials (ASPCRO) and the State-FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG), which received input from NPMA and RISE.
“We do know there will be no reference to state plans on (pesticide product) labels, which was a concern for our industry at one point,” said Bray.
NPMA is encouraging states to adopt the best management practices that it developed for any structural pest control areas in these plans. “We think it’s really a simple, common sense set of practices that will help to minimize exposure in a realm that already has little exposure,” said Fredericks.
States also are asking stakeholders to participate. “There will be a lot of people at the table as these things develop and the pest management industry has to stay plugged in,” Fredericks added.
EPA sought comments on its Proposal to Protect Bees from Acutely Toxic Pesticides through July 29 and it could take up to eight months before the agency announces it ruling.
In the meantime, RISE and NPMA urged pest management professionals to get involved in industry advocacy and in developing state pollinator protection plans.
“We have to make sure we’re helping to write the story of how pollinators are protected,” said Fredericks. “It’s very easy for our industry to be forgotten and very easy for restrictions through these state plans to be put in place that would have a big impact on how our members do business.”
Managed bees may be the focus now but “we’re already seeing the conversation is pivoting to wild and native bees that can be found in the urban environment,” added Reardon. “Those who are opposed to pesticide use see the opportunity there;” structural uses could come into the discussion later, she cautioned.
Hot Spots for Pollinator Advocacy
Protecting pollinators, mainly by restricting pesticide use, remains a hot topic in some communities.
Starting July 1, the province of Ontario, Canada, was the first jurisdiction in North America to do this through new rules designed to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds (a reduction of 80 percent by 2017).
In the United States, New York, Maryland, Minnesota and Massachusetts have introduced legislation that would restrict the use of neonicotinoids (and in Minnesota, fipronil, as well). The city of Portland, Ore., banned the use of neonicotinoids on city property. In May, the city of Montreal banned the use of these pesticides.
News Bites About Bees
Imidacloprid does not significantly harm honey bee colonies at real-world dosage levels (University of Maryland).
Nicotine that naturally occurs in the nectar of tobacco-family flowers may protect bumble bees against intestinal parasites (University of Massachusetts and Dartmouth College).
Bees prefer foods tainted with neonicotinoids, which is chemically similar to nicotine, perhaps indicating an addictive attraction similar to the one humans have with nicotine (Newcastle University, U.K.).
Colony die-off this past winter was 29 percent, an improvement from the winter before (Purdue University). But high summer losses added up to more than a 40 percent total annual loss in managed honey bee colonies (University of Maryland).
Varroa mites, one of the most serious threats to honey bees worldwide, infiltrate hives through chemical camouflage — by smelling like bees (study in Biology Letters).
This spring researchers proved wild and native bees could adequately pollinate orchards for a full crop of fruit without support from managed honey bees (Cornell University).
Neonicotinoids aren’t the only insecticides under scrutiny: Sub-lethal doses of pyrethroids may reduce honey bee movement and social interaction (report in the journal Chemosphere).
About the author: Anne Nagro is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine.