Have you heard anyone talking about pollinator habitat or butterfly gardens? If you haven’t already, you no doubt will be, soon, as a Presidential task force is rolling out programs geared to build up more than 7 million acres of habitat in the next few years. What’s at risk for you if that goal is not achieved? A laundry list of pesticides and farming methodologies are likely to come under fire if voluntary efforts aren’t good enough. So, as you’re discovering areas in your fields that are maybe a little harder to get to with larger equipment, or maybe you have a waterway that could use a seeding, you might want to look into what it would take to include some plants appropriate for pollinators and the monarch butterfly.
Just this week, in a first of its kind review, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that the neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid may threaten bees under certain conditions. The assessment was the first completed since President Obama announced a national pollinator strategy last year.
In this particular case, corn is getting a bit of a bye, being that it is viewed as posing a lower risk to honey bees. Berries, vegetables, and tobacco, however, are in the hot seat.
According to the Energy and Environmental Policy News website,
“Under the National Pollinator Health Strategy, federal agencies are trying to work together to limit honeybee overwintering losses to 15 percent within 10 years, boost monarch butterfly numbers to 225 million in the insect's winter habitat in Mexico, and restore and enhance 7 million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years through federal actions and public-private partnerships (Greenwire, May 19, 2015).
“Key steps in that process include completing EPA reviews of imidacloprid and three other neonicotinoids -- thiamethoxam, clothianidin and dinotefuran -- by 2017.
EPA also proposed a temporary ban last year on spraying neonicotinoid pesticides during the bloom season or when bees are present (Greenwire, May 28, 2015). The agency has also worked to limit new uses of imidacloprid and similar pesticides.”