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PLoS One. 2017 Jun 7;12(6):e0178421. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178421. eCollection 2017.

Feeding toxicity and impact of imidacloprid formulation and mixtures with six representative pesticides at residue concentrations on honey bee physiology (Apis mellifera).

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USDA-ARS, Stoneville, MS, United States of America.
USDA-ARS, Poplarville, MS, United States of America.


Imidacloprid is the most widely used insecticide in agriculture. In this study, we used feeding methods to simulate in-hive exposures of formulated imidacloprid (Advise® 2FL) alone and mixtures with six representative pesticides for different classes. Advise, fed at 4.3 mg/L (equal to maximal residue detection of 912 ppb active ingredient [a.i.] in pollen) induced 36% mortality and 56% feeding suppression after 2-week feeding. Treatments with individual Bracket (acephate), Karate (λ-cyhalothrin), Vydate (oxamyl), Domark (tetraconazole), and Roundup (glyphosate) at residue level had a mortality range of 1.3-13.3%, statistically similar to that of control (P>0.05). The additive/synergistic toxicity was not detected from binary mixtures of Advise with different classes of pesticides at residue levels. The feeding of the mixture of all seven pesticides increased mortality to 53%, significantly higher than Advise only but still without synergism. Enzymatic data showed that activities of invertase, glutathione S-transferase, and acetylcholinesterase activities in imidacloprid-treated survivors were mostly similar to those found in control. Esterase activity mostly increased, but was significantly suppressed by Bracket (acephate). The immunity-related phenoloxidase activity in imidacloprid-treated survivors tended to be lower, but most treatments were statistically similar to the control. Increase of cytochrome P450 activity was correlated with Advise concentrations and reached significant difference at 56 mg/L (12 ppm a.i.). Our data demonstrated that residue levels of seven pesticide in pollens/hive may not adversely affect honey bees, but long term exclusive ingestion of the maximal residue levels of imidacloprid (912 ppb) and sulfoxaflor (3 ppm a.i.) may induce substantial bee mortality. Rotating with other insecticides is a necessary and practical way to reduce the residue level of any given pesticide.

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