Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bee's Knees

I mentioned Ferlilome's Tree and Shrub Systemic Insect Granules the other day as a way to fight Japanese Beetles.  It works on these and some other damaging insects.
It's a powerful killer and there is increased talk in the agricultural circles that it's main ingredient, Imidacloprid, may be causing bee colony collapse.  Up until recently, it was thought Imidacloprid only killed sucking insects.  Now there is growing concern it builds up in the bee's system, through the pollen contact, and eventually causes their navigation system to stop working.  They can't find their way back to the hive and eventually the entire hive dies. 

If you read labels and reports, all chemicals have side effects.  Some good and some not so good.  Imidacloprid is very deadly to aquatic life.  There's concern the run off could kill entire populations of aquatic life (fish, frogs, etc.) in ponds or streams.

Imidacloprid is in many insecticides and it's use has increased when other chemicals have been banned because of toxicity. 

I have a real concern for both sides of the situation.  It's extremely difficult to crop farm without insecticide use.  Even on my little plot of land, I watched as Japanese Beetles devoured trees and bushes.  I've had two beautiful hardy Rugosa rose bushes die because they were deprived of all means of taking on nutrients without their leaves.  I expect to lose two trees:  a cherry and a my Mountain Ash.  Both were stressed due to the drought and both have had two years of serious Japanese Beetle defoliation.  These are minor when you consider entire fields of crops (a person's business) and the damage sucking insects can do.  I had hoped I had found the perfect control UNTIL I read the label and on line discussions. 

I plan to error on the side of caution because we can not live without bees.  Most folks don't really grasp that fact.  Without bees pollinating the flowers, most crops would never produce.  Without those crops, the entire world will be thrown into famine.  I know that sounds alarmist and over reactive and I try to not to ride the panic button. 

I also try not to make gardening mistakes that could destroy my grandchildren's world.  We've all made a few innocently.  We used DDT like crazy on everything from crops to kids.  It was the new wonder insecticide.  And it worked except it proved to be dangerous to humans, too. 

I'm always rather surprised (in a sad kinda way) so many chemical applications are passed by the FDA prior to knowing what it can really damage.  Any chemical that cautions don't apply more than once a year because of FDA warnings should tell us there just might be an issue - a big issue.

As a family that's been touched too many times by cancer, I'm making the decision to understand chemicals in the products I'm using and if it isn't clear or it contains possible harmful properties, then I won't use them.  While no one is officially talking about chemicals in our consumed products causing some of these cancers, I'm betting it has more to do with the amount of money spent lobbying rather than lack of evidence.

I don't think we have perfect alternatives at this time.  We all must breath the same air, often eat products without really understanding where they come from, what was used to grow them and what was used after it was harvested.  Some of the local organic endeavors are making headway but they aren't always perfect either. 

Bottom line is you must read and understand the products you use on your yards, gardens, produce, and bodies.  If there is doubt, find an alternative.  Gardeners should be on the front line of an effort to make this a safe world.  Being informed is a good first step to making prudent decisions. 

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