Send to

Choose Destination
J Econ Entomol. 2013 Apr;106(2):756-75.

Synthetic pesticides in agro-ecosystems: are they as detrimental to nontarget invertebrate fauna as we suspect?

Author information

Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Broad-spectrum pesticides used to protect field crops and pastures from invertebrate pests are frequently reported to reduce populations of nontarget fauna, but there is often little relevant field data. Nonetheless, this notion is used to promote the adoption of more selective pesticides with less impact on nontarget invertebrates, including beneficial insects. Selective pesticides are not widely available for broad-acre grain crops and pastures in southern Australia; however, several options available in other industries could be compatible with these agricultural systems. In this study, the impact of broad-spectrum pesticides and several selective pesticides on nontarget invertebrate fauna was assessed in five field trials in wheat and canola fields. Despite extensive sampling over short and medium timeframes, few treatment effects on nontarget groups were detected. In cases where broad-spectrum pesticides were detrimental, patterns were often inconsistent among nontarget groups and between field trials. In contrast, the pest species, Halotydeus destructor Tucker and Penthaleus spp., were effectively controlled by the broad-spectrum treatments and less effectively by the selective pesticides. The inconsistent and relatively small impact of broad-spectrum pesticides on some nontarget invertebrates demonstrates that caution is required when extrapolating from laboratory-based assessments routinely used to assess the impacts of pesticides to field conditions in agriculture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center