Bee Kill Reaffirms Need to Follow Pesticide Label Warnings - UNL CropWatch, July 26, 2013

Bee Kill Reaffirms Need to Follow Pesticide Label Warnings - UNL CropWatch, July 26, 2013

July 26, 2013

Earlier this month there was a large bumble bee kill in Oregon involving a landscaper using a pesticide to control aphids in linden trees at a Target parking lot.

"This event indicates a need to remind users of pesticides about the absolute importance of reading and following the label – and to pay particular attention to WARNINGS," cautioned an entomologist in the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy in a letter to fellow entomologists.

"While this was not a result of an agricultural application and was an urban use," wrote David Epstein, USDA entomologist, agricultural applications are in full swing across the country and could have similar impacts if applications aren't made according to the label.

Epstein shared the following reminders for ensuring safe pesticide use to protect the applicator and avoid any unnecessary consequences. 

What You Can Do to Ensure Safe Pesticide Applications

Use of any pesticide in any way that is not consistent with label directions and precautions is illegal. It may also be ineffective and dangerous. The basic steps in reducing pesticide risks are:

  • Choose the form of pesticide best suited to your target site and the pest you want to control:
    — First, identify the problem correctly and then, choose the least-toxic pesticide that will achieve the results you want and be the least toxic to you and the environment.
    — When the words “broad-spectrum” appear on the label, this means the product is effective against a broad range of pests. If the label says “selective,” the product is effective against one or a few pests.
    — Read the label before buying the pesticide, read the label before mixing or using the pesticide each time, and read the label before storing or disposing of the pesticide.
  • Determine the right amount to purchase and use: do not assume that using more pesticide than the label recommends will do a better job. It won’t.
  • Find the signal word—either Danger, Warning, or Caution on the pesticide label. The signal word tells you how poisonous the product is to humans.
  • Choose the form of pesticide (aerosol, dust, bait, or other) best suited to your target site and the pest you want to control. Certain formulations work better for some pests and/or some target areas than others.
  • Use the product safely and correctly:
    — Never apply pesticides outdoors on a windy day (winds higher than 10 mph)
    — Wear protective clothing, don’t smoke or eat
    — Mix and apply only the amount you need
  • Watch for negative effects on wildlife (birds, butterflies, and bees) in and near treated areas. If you see any unusual behavior, stop using that pesticide, and contact EPA’s Pesticide Incident Response Officer.
  • Store and dispose of pesticides properly.
    — Follow all storage instructions on the pesticide label.
    — Always store pesticides in their original containers, complete with labels that list ingredients, directions for use, and first aid steps in case of accidental poisoning.

State and local laws regarding pesticide disposal may be stricter than the federal requirements on the label. Be sure to check with your state or local solid waste agency before disposing of your pesticide containers.

Robert Wright
UNL Extension Entomologist


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