Two Common Insecticides Are Not Only Harming The Bees, But Also The Songbirds

Two commonly used insecticides known as imidacloprid (neonicotinoid) and chlorpyrifos (organophosphate) are not only poisoning bees, but also seed-eating songbirds, according to a new study. Researchers are hopeful that this study will lead to new regulations for the use of these insecticides.

The findings of the study were published in Scientific Reports. It was led by Margaret Eng, a post-doctoral fellow, and Christy Morrissey, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan. It is reported that this is the first study that indicates that these common insecticides are harming songbirds.

In previous studies, these insecticides were found to be the cause of the decline in bee populations. However, it was discovered that they are also damaging other animals.

Eng explained that these substances are having a strong impact on songbirds. She further explained that they are seeing significant weight loss and the birds’ migratory orientation significantly altered. She added that the effects were seen after eating the equivalent of just three to four imidacloprid treated canola seeds or eight chlorpyrifos granules a day for three days, as noted by Phys.Org.

Farmers used the neonicotinoids because they could kill pests effectively. In addition, they are easy to apply. On the other hand, the songbirds eat the seeds coated with neonicotinoids. Moreover, they mistakenly see chlorpyrifos pellets for grit and eat them.

Songbirds are essential to the health and productivity of trees and forests. [Image by Victor Tyakht/Thinkstock]

These have harmful effects on the songbirds and trigger symptoms of poisoning such as becoming draggy and not eating much. They lost up to 25 percent of their body mass and fat stores. They were unable to efficiently orient themselves and became confused when migrating.

Eng said that the effects were severe enough that the birds would likely experience migratory delays or alterations in their flight routes. This could lessen their chance of survival or could cause a missed breeding opportunity. She added that Canada should consider banning these common insecticides. The researchers are also trying to figure out the long-term effects of these insecticides on humans and the environment.

Meanwhile, a songbird is also referred to as the perching bird that belongs to the clade Passeri, which has over 5,000 species. They can be found all around the world. A 1994 study revealed that songbirds are essential for the health and productivity of trees and forests, as they eat the bugs that eat leaves, according to Futurism.

[Featured Image by AlexPapp/Thinkstock]