Bee Informed: The "Right to Garden", Pesticides in Milkweed from Nurseries, and Backyard Mosquito Spraying Impacts Birds and Bees

Bee Informed: The "Right to Garden", Pesticides in Milkweed from Nurseries, and Backyard Mosquito Spraying Impacts Birds and Bees

Each month our Bee Informed Blog highlights current news, science, and research related to solitary bee conservation, food insecurity, and sustainability.

1. Only Two States Have Passed ‘Right to Garden’ Laws. Will Others Follow?

(Civil Eats) Carrots, baby kale, and spinach never tasted so sweet. After emerging from a multi-year legal battle over gardening, Nicole Virgil is looking forward to cultivating those vegetables and more this winter in her backyard. Growing one’s own food, central to human existence for millennia, has suddenly become a hot-button topic in some communities.

From Michigan to Massachusetts, people have been thwarted—or even outright banned—from growing food on their own property. But thanks to the concerted efforts of people like Virgil and their legal allies, “right to garden” laws are slowly gaining traction. Such legislation remains scarce at the state level, however—only Illinois and Florida have laws on the books, although Maine recently updated its constitution with a “right to food” amendment. Continue reading...

2. Harmful Pesticides Found in Milkweeds from Retail Nurseries

(Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation) A new study released in Biological Conservation found harmful levels of pesticides in milkweed plants purchased from retail nurseries across the United States. Pesticides were found in all plants tested, raising alarms for monarch conservation efforts that rely on planting milkweed sourced from commercial nurseries. Fortunately, the limited residues on some plants indicated that it’s possible to grow milkweed in a pollinator-friendly manner.

Milkweed is the only food source for monarch caterpillars and thus critical for their survival. People who want to support monarchs often buy and plant milkweed. Researchers gathered 235 milkweed leaf samples from retail nurseries across 15 states and tested them for pesticides. A total of 61 different pesticides were found, with an average of 12 per plant and as many as 28 per plant. Continue reading...

3. Backyard mosquito spraying booms, but may be too deadly

(AP News) It’s an increasingly familiar sight in U.S. cities and suburbs: A van pulls up to the curb. Workers wearing gloves, masks and other protective gear strap on backpack-type mechanisms with plastic hoses, similar to leaf blowers.

Revving up the motors, they drench trees, bushes and even house walls with pesticides targeting an age-old menace: mosquitoes.

The winged, spindly-legged bloodsuckers have long been the bane of backyard barbecues and, in tropical nations, carriers of serious disease. Now, with climate change widening the insect’s range and lengthening its prime season, more Americans are resorting to the booming industry of professional yard spraying. Continue reading...

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