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2 The Outdoors: NYSDEC adds restrictions on Neonicotinoid pesticides

Neonics have been found to have deleterious effects on pollinating insects.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Pesticides have been a part of human society for over four thousand years and today are used widely to control everything from weeds to insect pests. The class of pesticides known as Neonicotinoids, or "Neonics" has been a focus in recent years because of the negative effects it has on pollinating insects. The NYSDEC  is moving to control unrestricted use of Neonics, banning them from general use by January of 2023. 

Scott Menrath is Director of the Bureau for Pesticide Management for the NYSDEC. 

"There were a number of Neonics that were still general use pesticides, and so we in January announced our intent to reclassify those to restricted use pesticides, which basically means that they can only be used by commercial applicators, professional applicators, or growers who are professionally certified."

Credit: Terry Belke
Neonics are considered a contributor to Colony Collapse Disorder in domestic Honeybees.

The chemicals are considered "systemic", meaning that once applied, they move throughout an entire plant, from roots to leaves, and affect insects that feed on them. Menrath says the pesticides are effective on insects that are considered pests. 

"They target certain insects, particularly effective against what we call the biting and chewing insects, ants, grubs, beetles, aphids, whiteflies, things like that."

Credit: Terry Belke
The pesticide also has negative effects on wild pollinating insects .

Unfortunately, the pervasive nature of Neonics means that they also affect beneficial insects. 

"Some of them can be immediately toxic, " Menrath explains. "Others can have what they call sub-acute influences. They can affect their reproduction, their ability to navigate, behavioral issues."

Between pesticides and habitat loss, both managed and wild pollinators have seen a serious population decline in recent years. In turn, their decline will have an effect on human society.  "It's been said that one out of every three mouthfuls of food that we consume is due to some pollination along the way. So that's a pretty big concern."

Pesticides with these chemicals have already been pulled from many stores, but with growing season on our doorstep, and Menrath says that it pays to be attentive in how we use these deterrents, and know that there are alternatives. 

"You don't necessarily need a pesticide to manage a pest. There are other ways to figure out what the pest is, and what the problem is."

Here is the DEC's release on the Neonic restrictions. 

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