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Concept: Insecticide


Large-scale losses of honey bee colonies represent a poorly understood problem of global importance. Both biotic and abiotic factors are involved in this phenomenon that is often associated with high loads of parasites and pathogens. A stronger impact of pathogens in honey bees exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides has been reported, but the causal link between insecticide exposure and the possible immune alteration of honey bees remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate that the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin negatively modulates NF-κB immune signaling in insects and adversely affects honey bee antiviral defenses controlled by this transcription factor. We have identified in insects a negative modulator of NF-κB activation, which is a leucine-rich repeat protein. Exposure to clothianidin, by enhancing the transcription of the gene encoding this inhibitor, reduces immune defenses and promotes the replication of the deformed wing virus in honey bees bearing covert infections. This honey bee immunosuppression is similarly induced by a different neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, but not by the organophosphate chlorpyriphos, which does not affect NF-κB signaling. The occurrence at sublethal doses of this insecticide-induced viral proliferation suggests that the studied neonicotinoids might have a negative effect at the field level. Our experiments uncover a further level of regulation of the immune response in insects and set the stage for studies on neural modulation of immunity in animals. Furthermore, this study has implications for the conservation of bees, as it will contribute to the definition of more appropriate guidelines for testing chronic or sublethal effects of pesticides used in agriculture.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Evolution, Insect, Vaccination, Honey bee, Insecticide, Neonicotinoid


The causes of bee declines remain hotly debated, particularly the contribution of neonicotinoid insecticides. In 2013 the UK’s Food & Environment Research Agency made public a study of the impacts of exposure of bumblebee colonies to neonicotinoids. The study concluded that there was no clear relationship between colony performance and pesticide exposure, and the study was subsequently cited by the UK government in a policy paper in support of their vote against a proposed moratorium on some uses of neonicotinoids. Here I present a simple re-analysis of this data set. It demonstrates that these data in fact do show a negative relationship between both colony growth and queen production and the levels of neonicotinoids in the food stores collected by the bees. Indeed, this is the first study describing substantial negative impacts of neonicotinoids on colony performance of any bee species with free-flying bees in a field realistic situation where pesticide exposure is provided only as part of normal farming practices. It strongly suggests that wild bumblebee colonies in farmland can be expected to be adversely affected by exposure to neonicotinoids.

Concepts: Insect, Honey bee, Pollinator decline, Bee, Bumblebee, Insecticide, Neonicotinoid, Imidacloprid


Development and evaluation of new insect pest management tools is critical for overcoming over-reliance upon, and growing resistance to, synthetic, biological and plant-expressed insecticides. For transgenic crops expressing insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (‘Bt crops’) emergence of resistance is slowed by maintaining a proportion of the crop as non-Bt varieties, which produce pest insects unselected for resistance. While this strategy has been largely successful, multiple cases of Bt resistance have now been reported. One new approach to pest management is the use of genetically engineered insects to suppress populations of their own species. Models suggest that released insects carrying male-selecting (MS) transgenes would be effective agents of direct, species-specific pest management by preventing survival of female progeny, and simultaneously provide an alternative insecticide resistance management strategy by introgression of susceptibility alleles into target populations. We developed a MS strain of the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, a serious global pest of crucifers. MS-strain larvae are reared as normal with dietary tetracycline, but, when reared without tetracycline or on host plants, only males will survive to adulthood. We used this strain in glasshouse-cages to study the effect of MS male P. xylostella releases on target pest population size and spread of Bt resistance in these populations.

Concepts: Male, Agriculture, Insect, Pesticide, Bacillus thuringiensis, Insecticide, Diamondback moth, Transgene


There has been widespread concern that neonicotinoid pesticides may be adversely impacting wild and managed bees for some years, but recently attention has shifted to examining broader effects they may be having on biodiversity. For example in the Netherlands, declines in insectivorous birds are positively associated with levels of neonicotinoid pollution in surface water. In England, the total abundance of widespread butterfly species declined by 58% on farmed land between 2000 and 2009 despite both a doubling in conservation spending in the UK, and predictions that climate change should benefit most species. Here we build models of the UK population indices from 1985 to 2012 for 17 widespread butterfly species that commonly occur at farmland sites. Of the factors we tested, three correlated significantly with butterfly populations. Summer temperature and the index for a species the previous year are both positively associated with butterfly indices. By contrast, the number of hectares of farmland where neonicotinoid pesticides are used is negatively associated with butterfly indices. Indices for 15 of the 17 species show negative associations with neonicotinoid usage. The declines in butterflies have largely occurred in England, where neonicotinoid usage is at its highest. In Scotland, where neonicotinoid usage is comparatively low, butterfly numbers are stable. Further research is needed urgently to show whether there is a causal link between neonicotinoid usage and the decline of widespread butterflies or whether it simply represents a proxy for other environmental factors associated with intensive agriculture.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Agriculture, Causality, Insect, Index, Insecticide, Butterfly


There has been recent interest in the threat to bees posed by the use of systemic insecticides. One concern is that systemic insecticides may translocate from the soil into pollen and nectar of plants, where they would be ingested by pollinators. This paper reports on the movement of two such systemic neonicotinoid insecticides, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, into the pollen and nectar of flowers of squash (Cucurbita pepo cultivars “Multipik,” “Sunray” and “Bush Delicata”) when applied to soil by two methods: (1) sprayed into soil before seeding, or (2) applied through drip irrigation in a single treatment after transplant. All insecticide treatments were within labeled rates for these compounds. Pollen and nectar samples were analyzed using a standard extraction method widely used for pesticides (QuEChERS) and liquid chromatography mass spectrometric analysis. The concentrations found in nectar, 10 ± 3 ppb (mean ± s.d) for imidacloprid and 11 ± 6 ppb for thiamethoxam, are higher than concentrations of neonicotinoid insecticides in nectar of canola and sunflower grown from treated seed, and similar to those found in a recent study of neonicotinoids applied to pumpkins at transplant and through drip irrigation. The concentrations in pollen, 14 ± 8 ppb for imidacloprid and 12 ± 9 ppb for thiamethoxam, are higher than those found for seed treatments in most studies, but at the low end of the range found in the pumpkin study. Our concentrations fall into the range being investigated for sublethal effects on honey bees and bumble bees.

Concepts: Flower, Bumblebee, Insecticide, Neonicotinoid, Cucurbita pepo, Pumpkin, Cucurbita, Squash


Resistance monitoring is essential in ensuring the success of insecticide based vector control programmes. This study was carried out to assess the susceptibility status of urban populations of Anopheles gambiae to carbamate insecticide being considered for vector control in mosquito populations previously reported to be resistant to DDT and permethrin.

Concepts: Malaria, Anopheles, Mosquito, Mosquito control, Insecticide, DDT, Pyrethroid, Carbamate


The mosquito Aedes aegypti is one of the most important disease vectors because it transmits two major arboviruses, dengue and yellow fever, which cause significant global morbidity and mortality. Chemical insecticides form the cornerstone of vector control. The organophosphate temephos a larvicide recommended by WHO for controlling Ae. aegypti, however, resistance to this compound has been reported in many countries, including Brazil.

Concepts: Malaria, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Insecticide


An evaluation was made of the effects of seven neurotoxic insecticides (esfenvalerate, indoxacarb, clothianidin, thiacloprid, azinphosmethyl, phosmet and imidacloprid), one insect growth regulator (novaluron) and two fungicides (myclobutanin and mancozeb), with water as the control, on the horizontal mobility of plum curculios exposed to dried pesticide residues. Mobility was recorded over a 2 h period using ethological tracking software. Mortality was recorded immediately after horizontal mobility experiments and 24 h later.

Concepts: Sulfur, Pesticide, Insecticide, Insecticides, Neonicotinoid, Imidacloprid, Cinnamaldehyde, Phosmet


BACKGROUND: In many parts of Africa as in Benin, the main strategies of vector control are based on the scaling-up of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS). The need to understand the biological implications of IRS in large scale and full coverage of LLITNs is paramount. It is in this context that the present study was conducted. It aims to evaluate the effect of a large scale IRS using a non-pyrethroid insecticide and full coverage of deltamethrin treated nets on the behavior of An. gambiae s.l. in the intervention areas compared to untreated areas used as controls. METHODS: Mosquitoes were collected using human landing catches, pyrethrum spray catches and window exit traps to assess reduction of entry rate, endophily rate, endophagy rate and overall mortality rate in natural populations of An. gambiae s.l. before IRS and LLITNs intervention (2007) and after in 2008 and 2010. RESULTS: In the IRS arm, endophily rate was 67.13% before intervention and 4.5% after intervention, whereas in the control arm it was stable at 51.67% (P > 0 .05). In the LLITN arm endophily rates also decreased after intervention. After the IRS, no gravid mosquitoes were collected from all treated localities, but LLITN performance was not that spectacular. The proportion of mosquitoes biting indoors in the IRS arm decreased from 67.09% before intervention to 42.85% after intervention, compared to a low but significant decrease (71.31% to 57. 46%) in the LLITN arm.The use of vector control tools and behavior of the host would be the main factors that modify the behavior of taking a human blood meal observed on An. gambiae s.l. inside human dwellings. CONCLUSION: The impact on the behavior of An. gambiae s.l. observed with the bendiocarb used in IRS was highly effective compared with the free distribution of LLITNs in terms of mortality and the decrease of proportions of indoor feeding. Despite this efficacy, there is a need for complementary tools and research of alternative strategy oriented on effective health education, and the use of powerful tools such as IRS, LLITNs, larviciding and repellents.

Concepts: Blood, Malaria, Anopheles, Effectiveness, Mosquito, Insecticide, DDT, Anopheles gambiae


Neonicotinoids are widely used insecticides, but their use is subject of debate because of their detrimental effects on pollinators. Little is known about the effect of neonicotinoids on other beneficial insects such as parasitoid wasps, which serve as natural enemies and are crucial for ecosystem functioning. Here we show that sublethal doses of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid impair sexual communication and host finding in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis. Depending on the dose, treated females were less responsive to the male sex pheromone or unable to use it as a cue at all. Courtship behaviour of treated couples was also impeded resulting in a reduction of mating rates by up to 80%. Moreover, treated females were no longer able to locate hosts by using olfactory cues. Olfaction is crucial for the reproductive success of parasitoid wasps. Hence, sublethal doses of neonicotinoids might compromise the function of parasitoid wasps as natural enemies with potentially dire consequences for ecosystem services.

Concepts: Male, Insect, Sex, Ant, Insecticide, Biological pest control, Neonicotinoid, Imidacloprid