Kimberly A. Stoner
Department of Entomology, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut


Various large bags filled with different types of beansNeonicotinoids are a group of insecticides that commonly use in seed treatments for many crops includes soybean, cotton, canola, wheat, sunflower, potato, and many vegetables. Neonicotinoids can travel from the seed into the plant which control plant feeding insects both seeds and plants. Residues in nectar, pollen, and plant guttation could affect honey bees and native bees. Neonicotinoids have a combination of high toxicity to insects that influence bee forage, we should be careful in using neonicotinoid-treated seeds.

General Principles for Best Management Practices:

1. Do not use seed treated with neonicotinoids unless there is a specific pest problem that can be effectively managed with a neonicotinoid seed treatment.

2. When the use of neonicotinoids is not warranted, purchase seed that is not treated with this group of chemicals (seeds may be treated with fungicides or other pesticides). If seed selection is limited, contact your seed company’s field representative to request increased selection and availability of seed that is not treated with neonicotinoids.

3. Before planting with seeds treated with neonicotinoids, notify any nearby beekeepers, so that they can protect their bees. Also remove flowering plants from the field and field edges by mowing or tillage.

4. Read and follow all instructions on the seed tag including personal protective equipment to be used in handling seed and required buffer zones.

5. Keep the treatment on the seed during storage and handling. Avoid storing seed under extreme temperatures and excessive humidity that may increase the breakdown of the seed treatment.

6. Reduce insecticide dust produced at planting, keeping the treatment on the seed as much as possible. Load treated seed into planter boxes in a manner that will minimize the dust from becoming airborne. Minimize any drift of dust outside the field. Most problems with neonicotinoid-contaminated dust drifting in the air have been with treated corn planted using vacuum planters. There is currently no single solution to this problem. Options, including using deflectors or filters on the planting equipment and changing the lubricant mixed with the seed, are discussed below.

7. Avoid planting on windy days when any dust will blow into the environment, particularly if wind is blowing toward bee hives, flowering trees or standing water sources used by bees.

8. Dispose of any leftover treated seed properly, following directions on the seed tag. Generally it is best to plant it or bury it in an appropriate place away from water bodies.

9. Dispose of any dust left over in seed bags and filters properly, following any instructions on the seed bag or using the hazardous waste collection process in your municipality. (Because this is farm waste rather than household waste, there may be a fee.)

Download Best Management Practices for Farmers using Seeds Treated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides