We have had several calls in recent days as news gets out about the EPA’s recent label changes for neonicotinoid insecticides. The intent is to offer greater protection for pollinators in and around crops where this class of insecticides may be applied. Basically, the new language forbids the use of these products while bees are foraging and until flowering is complete and all petals have fallen off the plants. There are a few exceptions if certain criteria are met.
- The application is made to the target site after sunset.
- The application is made to the target site when temperatures are below 55ËšF.
- The application is made in accordance with a government-initiated public health response.
- The application is made in accordance with an active state administered apiary registry program where beekeepers are notified no less than 48-hours prior to the time of the planned application so that the bees can be removed, covered or otherwise protected prior to spraying.
- The application is made due to an imminent threat of significant crop loss, and a documented determination consistent with an IPM plan or predetermined economic threshold is met. Every effort should be made to notify beekeepers no less than 48-hours prior to the time of the planned application so that the bees can be removed, covered or otherwise protected prior to spraying.
Since nearly all of our acres in Mississippi are scouted by professional crop consultants and we treat on Extension published economic thresholds in row crops, this should be a manageable situation but may require better record keeping than in the past for some. For instance, it would be a good idea to actually report hard count numbers on spray reports rather than “over threshold” or “under threshold”.
Even when crops are not flowering, you cannot make an application when bees are “foraging or visiting” the crop or flowers around the field. Bees are most active in the middle of the day (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.). We surveyed numerous cotton, corn, and soybean fields across the mid-south last year documenting bee numbers in these crops. Our data in the mid south would suggest the best time to make applications that would avoid acute bee kills is in the evening. We saw a significant reduction in bees in all crops within 3 hours of sunset. A late evening application would be the preferred time to avoid bee kills and would also provide a longer buffer period for any residual effects to diminish before active foraging the following day.
For the full label language click here: neonic new label