Exposure of foraging bees (hymenoptera) to neonicotinoids in the U.S. southern high plains

Scott D. Longing, Eric M. Peterson, Christopher T. Jewett, Bianca M. Rendon, Samuel A. Discua, Kimberly J. Wooten, Seenivasan Subbiah, Philip N. Smith, Nancy E. McIntyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Exposure to pesticides is a major threat to insect pollinators, potentially leading to negative effects that could compromise pollination services and biodiversity. The objectives of this study were to quantify neonicotinoid concentrations among different bee genera and to examine differences attributable to body size and surrounding land use. During the period of cotton planting (May-June), 282 wild bees were collected from habitat patches associated with cropland, grassland, and urban land cover and analyzed for three neonicotinoids (thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and imidacloprid). Twenty bees among eight genera contained one or more of the neonicotinoid compounds and detections occurred in all landscape types, yet with the most detections occurring in croplandassociated habitats. Apis Linnaeus (Hymenoptera: Apidae), Melissodes Latreille (Apidae), Perdita Smith (Andrenidae), and Lasioglossum Curtis (Halictidae) had multiple individuals with neonicotinoid detections. Two of the largest bees (Apis and Melissodes) had the greatest number of detections within genera, yet the relatively small-bodied genus Perdita had the three highest neonicotinoid concentrations reported. The number of detections within a genus and average generic body mass showed a marginally significant trend towards larger bees having a greater frequency of neonicotinoid detections. Overall, the relatively low percentage of detections across taxa suggests practices aimed at conserving grassland remnants in intensified agricultural regions could assist in mitigating exposure of wild bees to agrochemicals, while differences in bee traits and resource use could in part drive exposure. Further work is needed to address variable agrochemical exposures among pollinators, to support strategies for conservation and habitat restoration in affected landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-535
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Agrochemical
  • Bee
  • Foraging
  • Pesticide exposure
  • Pollinator


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