photo of woman gardener spraying pesticides on a pink rose bush with three square images of garden pests and caution sign

What are Neonicotinoids?

When it comes to protecting crops, farmers and gardeners will do just about anything. But when the effort to protect plants and food sources actually begins to hurt the environment in other ways, we have to take a step back and analyze what the damage being done elsewhere could mean for the future.

Today, we’ll be discussing neonicotinoids: what they are, how they are affecting the environment, and what natural alternatives are available today.

What are Neonicotinoids?

Neonicotinoids are man-made, neuro-active insecticides with a chemical makeup similar to nicotine. They work by attacking receptors in the central nervous system, causing nerve overstimulation, paralysis, and death of invertebrates. Neonicotinoids are known to be effective against sap-sucking pests, fleas, wood-boring pests, flies, cockroaches, and even certain beetles.

Though they were developed in the 1980’s and ‘90s as a safer alternative to harmful insecticides, time has shown how toxic they can be to the environment.

Where are Neonicotinoids Used?

Neonicotinoids are used in various settings, from small home gardens to commercial agricultural settings to golf courses, and even as animal flea and tick treatments. Despite the 2018 neonicotinoids ban in Europe, neonicotinoid pesticides are still one of the most commonly used insecticides in the world.

Neonicotinoids Threat to the Environment

Given their high levels of water solubility, neonicotinoids can permeate through all parts of treated plants and remain in the environment for up to 2 years. In fact, several Canadian studies revealed neonicotinoid residues have been detected:

  • In wetlands, surface water (affecting aquatic life), and agricultural soil
  • In most edible parts of fruits and vegetables, and cannot be washed off (making overexposure to the insecticide more probable)
  • On pets up to four weeks after flea and tick treatment application

While this lingering insecticide might be good news for farmers and gardeners looking to protect their plants from invasive insects, it can be extremely damaging to honeybees, pollinators, and other beneficial insects who come into contact with it. In fact, three of the most commonly used neonicotinoids--clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam--are fatal to several species of butterflies and bees, and are partly to blame for contributing to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Even with low levels of exposure, it is possible for neonicotinoids to impact a bees ability to hunt for nectar and even find its way back to the hive.

Unfortunately, the problem does not just stop at neonicotinoids and bees. A study by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences revealed the negative impact neonicotinoids are having on bird food supplies, which are in turn affecting bird populations. What’s more, observational studies in humans and animals suggest adverse developmental and neurological impacts are possible with chronic exposure to these insecticides. All in all, neonicotinoids, bees, humans, and pets, and the environment just don’t mix!

Neonicotinoid Pesticide Alternatives

When you consider the harmful effects toxic neonicotinoids can create, it becomes alarmingly clear how important using bee safe pesticides and Natural Ways to Get Rid of Pests and Insects are for a safer, healthier ecosystem. Luckily, Organic Labs has worked hard to create garden safe insecticides you can confidently use on your plants and vegetables.

With our ORGANOCIDE® BEE SAFE 3-in-1 Organic Garden Spray, or ORGANOCIDE® BEE SAFE Insect Killer, you’ll get the very best OMRI Listed® organic pesticides to stop invasive insects and fungal diseases from wreaking havoc on your crops without harming pollinators, beneficial bugs, or the environment. Can neonicotinoids say the same?

For information on how to use our organic pesticides be sure to check out our helpful videos. Or, visit us on Facebook and Instagram to see how products are being used in the wild!


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