Systemic pesticides in a solitary bee pollen food store affect larval development and increase pupal mortality

Ngoc T. Phan, Neelendra K. Joshi, Edwin G. Rajotte, Fang Zhu, Kari A. Peter, Margarita M. López-Uribe, David J. Biddinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Solitary bees are often exposed to various pesticides applied for pest control on farmland while providing pollination services to food crops. Increasing evidence suggests that sublethal toxicity of agricultural pesticides affects solitary bees differently than the social bees used to determine regulatory thresholds, such as honey bees and bumblebees. Studies on solitary bees are challenging because of the difficulties in obtaining large numbers of eggs or young larvae for bioassays. Here we show the toxic and sublethal developmental effects of four widely used plant systemic pesticides on the Japanese orchard bee (Osmia cornifrons). Pollen food stores of this solitary bee were treated with different concentrations of three insecticides (acetamiprid, flonicamid, and sulfoxaflor) and a fungicide (dodine). Eggs were transplanted to the treated pollen and larvae were allowed to feed on the pollen stores after egg hatch. The effects of chronic ingestion of contaminated pollen were measured until adult eclosion. This year-long study revealed that chronic exposure to all tested pesticides delayed larval development and lowered larval and adult body weights. Additionally, exposure to the systemic fungicide resulted in abnormal larval defecation and increased mortality at the pupal stage, indicating potential risk to bees from fungicide exposure. These findings demonstrate potential threats to solitary bees from systemic insecticides and fungicides and will help in making policy decisions to mitigate these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170048
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Mar 10 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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