Neonicotinoids (neonics) are a class of insecticides based on natural plant compounds that disrupt the insect nervous system. They are used because they have relatively low toxicity on non-insects. They are applied as seed coatings, so when a seed germinates the water-soluble insecticides are taken up and mobilized throughout the plant, providing protection against insects that feed on it. The strategy decreases the need for aerial spraying of broad-spectrum insecticides.
Because of these attributes, neonic use has increased significantly. As usual, when a single strategy is employed there can be collateral effects. Dr. John Tooker from Penn State University describes his work on today’s podcast. Dr. Tooker examines a situation where the reliance on neonics has led to problems with other pests. This reminds us that integrated pest management is important, that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and that we have to exercise care in monitoring unanticipated effects of insecticide use.
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