At the end of May, dozens of bees were found dead or dying in a Boulder neighborhood. City investigators said the bees had received a dose of poison, thought to possibly be neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids were developed to be safer for birds and mammals, but because this pesticide can be found throughout the tissues of the plant, neonicotinoids are having unintended severe effects on beneficial insects like pollinators. These pesticides are starting to be banned in other countries but remain legal in the United States. Boulder officials said that neonicotinoids are banned for use on city property, but local municipalities have no power to curtail their use on private property.
“Spring is the time when we all start taking care of our yards. It’s also a critical time for pollinators, as they start foraging for food after a long winter,” said Mary Ann Colley vice president of science and conservation at Colorado’s Butterfly Pavilion. “The dandelions we see as a nuisance are actually a really important source of early-season food for bees. Pollinators, such as bees, are responsible for a third of the food we eat every day, playing a vital role in keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. However, their numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate.”
As a leader in pollinator conservation, Butterfly Pavilion has a responsibility as stewards of invertebrates and their habitats to find sustainable solutions to the pollinator crisis, through habitat restoration, research, and responsible conscientious pest management practices.
A bee can travel up to two miles to find food, so what is sprayed in your backyard may have a far-reaching impact.
“We encourage people to pull the weeds in their yards (we pull all the weeds in Butterfly Pavilions’s gardens by hand). If you must use pesticides, understand what kind of chemicals you’re using, and how factors like when you apply the chemicals have an impact on the toxicity,” Colley added. “Science has the power to change the world, and education is where it starts!”
For more information on how to manage your yard in a pollinator-friendly way, please visit Butterflies.org/protecting-pollinators/
Neonicotinoid pesticides are one among many threats currently facing pollinators. Loss of viable habitat, pathogens and invasive species all play a role in impacting survival and reproduction in populations of bees, butterflies and other pollinators. For more ways to help us protect these incredibly important animals, visit Butterfly Pavilion’s Pollinator Awareness through Conservation and Education page.
About Butterfly Pavilion:
Founded in July 1995 and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Butterfly Pavilion is the world’s only stand-alone, AZA-accredited invertebrate zoo, occupying a 30,000-square foot facility on an 11-acre campus provided by the City of Westminster, Colorado. Butterfly Pavilion’s mission is to foster an appreciation of butterflies and other invertebrates while educating the public about the need for conservation of threatened habitats in the tropics and around the world. Learn more at www.butterflies.org.
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