Feed Source for Beneficial Insects Threatened by Pesticide Contamination

An international, multi-disciplinary team that conducted a review of scientific literature found that honeydew contaminated by systemic insecticides poses a threat to beneficial insects. Honeydew, the excretion product of sap-sucking insects, is an important food source for many beneficial insects, including both pollinators and natural enemies of insect pests. However, researchers documented that when honeydew was produced from the sap of plants grown from seeds treated with neonicotinoids, parasitic wasps and pollinating hoverflies died after consuming the honeydew. “Our review describes how honeydew contaminated with systemic insecticides may play a role in insect declines,” said Penn State University entomology professor John Tooker. “Honeydew is a hidden driver of direct and indirect interactions among insects that is likely to be affecting the population dynamics of herbivores, biological control agents, and pollinators.”