Bug diet of birds has dramatically declined in quality, researchers find

"You are what you eat" is the guiding principle behind a new study comparing the diet of birds today with that of birds dead for more than a century. The results show large changes in the diets of aerial insectivores, or birds such as swallows, swifts, martins and whip-poor-wills that consume insects while in mid-flight. Today, the bulk of the birds' diet is made up of small insects at the lower end of the food web, or at a lower "trophic" level, the researchers say.

Environmental impacts of neonicotinoids outweigh crop yield benefits

Neonicotinoid use has increased rapidly in recent years, with a global shift toward insecticide applications as seed coatings rather than aerial spraying. While the use of seed coatings can lessen the amount of overspray and drift, the near universal and prophylactic use of neonicotinoid seed coatings on major agricultural crops has led to widespread detections in the environment (pollen, soil, water, honey).

Insecticide Resistance Signals Negative Consequences of Widespread Neonicotinoid Use on Multiple Field Crops in the U.S. Cotton Belt

Over the past 15 years, neonicotinoid seed treatments have been adopted worldwide and are used on a large proportion of U.S. field crops. Although neonicotinoids are used widely, little is known about how large-scale deployment affects pest populations over long periods. Here, we report a positive relationship between the deployment of neonicotinoid seed-dressings on multiple crops and the emergence of insecticide resistance in tobacco thrips (Frankliniella fusca), a polyphagous insect herbivore that is an important pest of seedling cotton but not soybean or maize.

Protecting our butterflies is vital to the environment

The State of the Nations Butterfly report which is published every five years shows long term and ten year trends – and it’s waving a danger flag. The most recent report published in 2015 indicates that overall a staggering 76 percent of our butterflies declined in abundance and occurrence over the past 40 years.

Four species of butterfly have become extinct over the past 150 years and the rest face an uncertain future. Our moths are doing no better as the total number over the past 40 years has declined overall by 28 percent, even as low as 40 percent in southern areas.

South Africa’s seabirds are in serious decline

Over five years in the making, The State of South Africa’s Birds 2018 report used national survey and monitoring data to create a picture of the conservation status of the country’s birds and their habitats. Unfortunately, the study outlines several troubling tends. Overall, it found that 132 of the 856 species in the country were threatened or near-threatened in the country, with 13 Critically Endangered – just one step away from being extinct in South Africa.

Wells closed across Denmark as every tenth shows pesticide levels that are too high

Denmark is facing a historic pollution case as it has been revealed that every tenth test sample taken from almost 1,700 wells reveals a level of pesticide residue that is considered too high. As a result, a number of wells have been closed due to the concerns. In its report on the issue, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) found unusually high concentrations and a broad geographic occurrence, establishing that the pesticide residue Desphenylchloridazone is prevalent in the groundwater – in open land and in drinking water wells.

Tropical aquatic ecosystems are much more sensitive to imidacloprid

The neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid is used in Bangladesh for a variety of crop protection purposes. Imidacloprid may contaminate aquatic ecosystems via spray drift, surface runoff and ground water leaching. The present study aimed at assessing the fate and effects of imidacloprid on structural (phytoplankton, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates and periphyton) and functional (organic matter decomposition) endpoints of freshwater, sub-tropical ecosystems in Bangladesh.

New research finds bee-killing pesticides may be impacting our health

Lots of recent research on neonicotinoid pesticides has focused on their deadly effects on honeybees and hives, but few have studied their possible effects on human health. Now, a Quebec research team has made some disturbing findings, including how the pest killers might affect unborn babies during pregnancy, and how they play a role in fuelling breast cancer.

Death of the bee hive: understanding the failure of an insect society

Since 2007 honey bee colony failure rates overwinter have averaged about 30% across much of North America. In addition, cases of extremely rapid colony failure have been reported, which has been termed colony collapse disorder. Both phenomena result from an increase in the frequency and intensity of chronic diseases and environmental stressors. Colonies are often challenged by multiple stressors, which can interact: for example, pesticides can enhance disease transmission in colonies.