Canadian Forest Service Publications

Alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides for pest control: case studies in agriculture and forestry. 2014. Furlan, L.; Kreutzweiser, D. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 22(1):135-147.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35748

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1007/s11356-014-3628-7

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Neonicotinoid insecticides are widely used for control of insect pests around the world and are especially pervasive in agricultural pest management. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that the broad-scale and prophylactic uses of neonicotinoids pose serious risks of harm to beneficial organisms and their ecological function. This provides the impetus for exploring alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides for controlling insect pests. We draw from examples of alternative pest control options in Italian maize production and Canadian forestry to illustrate the principles of applying alternatives to neonicotinoids under an integrated pest management (lPM) strategy. An IPM approach considers all relevant and available information to make informed management decisions, providing pest control options based on actual need. We explore the benefits and challenges of several options for management of three insect pests in maize crops and an invasive insect pest in forests, including diversifying crop rotations, altering the timing of planting, tillage and i1Tigation, using less sensitive crops in infested areas, applying biological control agents, and turning to alternative reduced risk insecticides. Continued research into alternatives is warranted, but equally pressing is the need for information transfer and training for farmers and pest managers and the need for policies and regulations to encourage the adoption of IPM strategies and their alternative pest control options.

Plain Language Summary

This paper is part of the Worldwide Integrated Assessment (WIA) of Systemic Pesticides series of papers in Environmental Science and Pollution Research. The WIA is a comprehensive literature review and synthesis on environmental risks associated with the use of the systemic insecticides, neonicotinoids and fipronil. David Kreutzweiser is a research scientist at NRCan, CFS and is a participant and author in the WIA. This paper explores potential alternatives to the use of neonicotinoids for pest control by drawing on case studies of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and applications for maize (corn) protection against soil-born pests in Italian agriculture and for tree protection against wood-boring pests in Canadian forestry. The authors show that there can be effective and feasible alternatives to the wide scale use of neonicotinoids for pest control, and outline the principles and application of an IPM approach to pest management. The NRCan, CFS-led research into environmentally acceptable pest control alternatives, and into managing the emerald ash borer infestations of eastern Canada is featured prominently. Policy implications to NRCan are minimal. There is one neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, registered for forestry in Canada, but the use of imidacloprid in forest pest control is currently very limited and therefore the environmental exposure and risk from the forestry use of this neonicotinoid in Canada is negligible.