It’s Not Just The Bees, Neonicotinoids Are Killing Our Birds Too


Neonicotinoid insecticides are long believed to be seriously harming bees. A two year EU suspension on the poison began at the end of 2013, though the British government saw fit to suspend the ban.

However the suspected knock-on effects to other species had not been demonstrated until last year.

Research suggests that neonicotinoids aren’t just decimating bee colonies — they’re hurting birds too.

Wired reports: In a study of neonicotinoid pesticides and bird populations in the Netherlands, biologists found a close and troubling link. As neonicotinoid levels rose in streams, lakes and wetlands, populations of insect-eating birds declined. The pesticides appear to have eliminated the insects on which they rely.

“These insecticides appear to be having more profound effects than just killing our pollinating insects,” said ecologist Caspar Hallmann of Radboud University in the Netherlands, an author on the new study, published today in Nature.

Hallmann and his colleagues analyzed two long-term, Netherlands-wide datasets: one of bird counts, and the other of surface water measurements of imidacloprid, the most common neonicotinoid.

First introduced in the 1990s, neonicotinoids have become ubiquitous in agriculture and gardening, and in recent years have been identified as a cause of dramatic die-offs in domestic honeybees. They’re also likely contributing to widespread declines in wild bees and butterflies.

It’s not just the bees anymore. Neonicotinoids are killing our birds too. It’s time to get Bayer to stop producing these chemicals.