Managing Your Pesticide Use

If you must spray chemicals on your property, you can take steps to ‘manage’ your pesticide use. Pesticides can kill pollinator or at the least negatively affect their pollination and reproduction behaviors. Labels only mention potential dangers to honey bees, some bumble bees, and orchard bees which can have very different reactions to chemicals than many native pollinators.

Suggested Practices:

(adapted from the Xerces Society, Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees)

  • Do not spray plants while in bloom.
  • Spray at night when bees are not foraging.
  • Consider temperature, wind, equipment settings and spray formulations.
  • Apply chemicals directly to plants. Spray drift can affect unintended or natural areas on your landscape. Operate sprayers at lowest pressure and nozzle settings.
  • Avoid broad spectrum chemicals as well as dusts and powders that can get caught in bees pollen-collecting hairs and inadvertently fed to larvae.
  • Consider using bug vacuums, pheromones for mating disruption, or Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) for moth caterpillars. *NOTE – even these products can be detrimental when they drift. ATTRA publications are available to assist gardeners and landowners.
  • Many habitat features that support pollinators will also host beneficial insects that help control pests naturally, reducing the need for pesticides. See the National Audubon Society’s advice on Reducing Pesticide Use.
  • Minimize the impact of mowing, burning, tilling, haying and grazing. Only mow one-fifth of an area in order to protect dormant pollinators, foraging adults and other wildlife. This will allow for re-colonization of the disturbed area from nearby undisturbed refuge. Ideally, avoiding any type of mowing will keep butterfly species safe that lay their eggs on the underside of plant leaves as well as cavity nesting bees which make their nests directly inside the plant stems.