Spring is here and we are all excited to buy plants for our gardens. If you are purchasing plants for a pollinator habitat, are the plants you buying safe for pollinators? Many bee loving garden plants are being pre-treated with pesticides that are shown to harm and kill bees, according to a new study.
The pilot study, co-authored by the Pesticide Research Institute, found 7 of 13 samples of garden plants purchased at top retailers in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay area and Minneapolis contain neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids that studies show could harm or kill bees and other pollinators.
Systemic pesticides, like neonics, are absorbed by plants after being applied to the leaves, seeds or soil. The pesticide persists in the plant for the whole season. When bees and other pollinators feed on the flowers and pollen of plants treated with neonics, they ingest the insecticide.
Before buying plants from any seller, ask them whether they use neonicotinoid pesticides or buy plants treated with them. If you plant from seeds, consider using seeds collected from plants you know to be untreated or purchased from retailers who do not sell pre-treated seeds.