Farmers growing pollinator-dependent fruits and vegetables are confronted with a potential trade-off between two competing needs to produce the crop: pest suppression and pollination. Insecticides aimed at pests can negatively affect bee populations. This dilemma is particularly apparent in cucurbits, which are attacked by several economically-important insect pests (e.g., cucumber beetles) that threaten production. These pests are effectively controlled with neonicotinoids, but the crop is dependent on bees for pollination and fruit set. Can these powerful and ubiquitous insecticides target pests while we preserve key pollinators? To address this broad goal, our team from varied disciplines and geographies and including a range of stakeholders will address the following objectives:
Identify insecticide management strategies that simultaneously optimize pest suppression while minimizing non-target exposure to cucurbit pollinators.
Determine the consequences of within- and extra-field neonicotinoid exposure for honey and wild bee health using large-scale field manipulations.
Assess the ecological and socioeconomic trade-offs among pollinators, pests, crop yield, and farm profitability resulting from alternative pesticide regimes.
Meet our team members and project director! We'd be happy to answer any and all questions.
Michigan State University
University of New Hampshire