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Focus on disease and insects

By Kevin Ong, Ph.D., and Erfan Vafaie

Cancellation of 12 Pesticides and Pollinator Promotion ANYONE WALKING WITH their head up in the Green Industry is familiar with the public scrutiny that a specific class of insecticides has received in the past few years. Yes, I’m referring to neonicotinoids (neonics for short), a relatively newer class of insecticides taken up systemically by the host plant that provide effective control of many sucking and chewing insect pests for several weeks to months. 12 NEONICS CANCELED

Active ingredients in neonics that may be recognizable include imidacloprid (i.e., Admire, Mallet, Marathon, and Merit), dinotefuran (i.e., Safari and Zylam), and thiamethoxam (i.e., Flagship and


TNLA Green July/August 2019

Meridian). This class of insecticides caught the public’s attention after a misapplication of Safari on blooming linden trees in a Target parking lot. It’s disheartening walking out of a Target with more than $100 worth of stuff during a “milk run.” But seeing more than 50,000 dead bees can take it to the next level. Many of you have already stopped using neonics due to retailer pressure. Millions of people signed online petitions calling for Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop selling neonics and requiring plants treated with neonics to be labeled as potentially harmful to pollinators. Following a series of petitions,

additional bee toxicology studies, an increased demand for organic almond milk, and litigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) canceled the registration of 12 neonics (See Table 1). Most of the products are important for seed coating in row crop agriculture; some are relevant to the green industry. Only specific formulations, however, have currently received cancellations. For example, although the EPA canceled Meridian 0.2G and 0.14G registrations, Meridian 0.33G and 25WG formulations appear unhindered. Two other insecticides pertinent to the green industry include Aloft GC G (with Aloft GC SC still available) and Flower, Rose & Shrub Care III. Despite the availability of several neonics on the market, growers should start inquiring about alternatives in case more are removed in the future. The EPA expects to complete a review of all neonics this year. POLLINATOR PROMOTION AND CITIZEN SCIENCE

All of us in the green industry can be stewards of pollinator promotion. Most of you grow flowering plants, making you a promoter of pollinators by default. And I know many of you observe pollinator activity on your plants — a testament to your pollinator-friendly pest management practices. Show them off. A great disconnect exists between the urban population and growing practices. I’d bet the general urban perception is that farms are hazardous wastelands fraught with radioactive waste, carcinogenic air, and three-headed frogs, and the only way to fix them is with the heavy hand of governmental regulation and litigation. Using Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, you can easily show a live

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TNLA Green Magazine July/August  

TNLA Green Magazine July/August