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Lethal and sublethal effects of some insecticides recommended for wild blueberry on the pollinator Bombus impatiens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2012

A.E. Gradish
School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
C.D. Scott-Dupree
School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
A.J. Frewin
Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
G.C. Cutler*
Department of Environmental Sciences, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada B2N 5E3
1Corresponding author (e-mail:


Managed and wild colonies of common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Apidae) are effective pollinators of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) (Ericaceae) in Atlantic Canada. Because insecticides are used during bloom to manage insect pests, bumble bees may be at risk of exposure. We therefore assessed the susceptibility of B. impatiens to some insecticides used or projected for use in blueberry pest management. Workers were killed by topical applications of spinosad, spinetoram, deltamethrin, and phosmet, but not flubendiamide. Similarly, when ingested in honey solution, spinetoram and deltamethrin were toxic, whereas flubendiamide did not cause mortality up to double its recommended label rate. In another experiment, workers were fed one sublethal dose of contaminated honey solution and placed in microcolonies to assess impacts on feeding, life span, and reproduction. The highest concentration of deltamethrin (17 mg a.i./L) reduced feeding. Workers treated with deltamethrin had shortened life spans and produced fewer males. Flubendiamide (2000 mg a.i./L) and spinetoram (0.8 mg a.i./L) caused no sublethal effects. These results indicate that flubendiamide should be safe to apply to blueberries where B. impatiens is foraging, while some other insecticides we tested may be hazardous under different exposure scenarios.


Les colonies aménagées et sauvages du bourdon fébrile commun (Bombus impatiens Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Apidae) sont des pollinisateurs efficaces de l'airelle à feuilles étroites (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) (Ericaceae) dans les provinces de l'Atlantique. Parce qu'on utilise des insecticides durant la floraison pour contrôler les insectes ravageurs, les bourbons risquent d'y être exposés. C'est pourquoi nous avons évalué la vulnérabilité de B. impatiens à quelques insecticides qu'on utilise ou projette d'utiliser pour la lutte contre les ravageurs des airelles. Les ouvrières sont tuées par des traitements topiques aux insecticides spinosad, spinétorame, deltaméthrine et phosmet, mais non par ceux au flubendiamide. De même, lorsqu'ils sont ingérés dans une solution de miel, le spinetoram et la deltaméthrine sont toxiques, alors que le flubendiamide ne cause pas de mortalité tant que la dose n'est pas le double de celle recommandée sur l’étiquette. Dans une autre expérience, nous avons alimenté les ouvrières d'une dose sublétale de la solution de miel contaminée et les avons placées en microcolonies pour évaluer les impacts sur l'alimentation, la durée de vie et la reproduction. Les concentrations les plus fortes de deltaméthrine (17 mg m.a./L) a réduit l'alimentation. Les ouvrières traitées à la deltaméthrine vivent moins longtemps et produisent moins de mâles. Le flubendiamide (2000 mg m.a./L) et le spinétorame (0.8 et 8.0 mg m.a./L) n'ont aucun effet sublétal. Nos résultats indiquent que le flubendiamide peut être appliqué sans danger aux airelles butinées par B. impatiens, alors que d'autres insecticides que nous avons évalués peuvent s'avérer nocifs sous divers scénarios d'exposition.

Original Article
Copyright © Entomological Society of Canada 2012

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