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Two studies have found that bees and flies are losing sleep because of a common pesticide disrupting their internal clocks. In one study, researchers found that bumblebees that drank nectar laced the pesticide neonicotinoids had a much harder time foraging. The pesticide caused the bees to take on erratic pollinating patterns: they foraged less and adopted a nocturnal lifestyle. Meanwhile, the second study found that flies exposed to pesticides called neonicotinoids had drastically different movement patterns. According to the study’s results, the pesticide directly impacted the brain cells that govern the flies’ internal clocks, which decide when they sleep.
Why this Matters: According to the WWF,90% of wild plants and 75% of global crops depend on pollination. Bees are incredibly important in helping plants grow. Honeybees in particular are responsible for more than one in every three bites of food we eat and increase crop values in the US by more than $15 billion every year. But because of climate change, pesticide use, and habitat loss, the odds of spotting a bumblebee in Europe or America have decreased by over 30% over the last 20 years. The world’s insects are facing an extinction crisis: more than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered.
Bee Sleep Disruption
Kiah Tasman, of the University of Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, explained to CNN, “It’s quite worrying because other studies and our studies show that the foraging motivation has decreased.” Tasman added: ”It looks like these pesticides freeze these cells in a daytime shape, so the body doesn’t know if it’s daytime or nighttime.”
Neonicotinoids are only making things worse, since at nighttime flowers aren’t as visible or available, making it much more difficult for the bees to find food. Moreover, this research links with other studies that have suggested that neonicotinoid pesticides have damaged the brains of baby bees, making it much harder for them to learn how to successfully forage for food. These studies suggest that we should investigate making more pest-specific pesticides, so we don’t harm the bee populations we so direly need.
By Nilanga Jayasinghe, Manager of the Wildlife Conservation team at World Wildlife Fund Imagine living in a modern, densely populated city. On any given morning, you might expect to look out your window and see a stream of cars and pedestrians on their daily commute, bustling shops and restaurants selling their wares, or perhaps local […]
Guest Post by Azzedine Downes, President & CEO, International Fund for Animal Welfare IFAW has long been a leader in recognizing the inherent link between biodiversity and climate change, the existential threat both issues pose to life on our planet, and the critical need to address both these threats together. This week, the results of […]
President Biden: "Watch out for the cicadas. I just got one – it got me." pic.twitter.com/jfrik4bgpB — The Hill (@thehill) June 9, 2021 If you live in Washington, D.C. the cicadas are hard to ignore. But this week their mating-frenzied existence reached new levels of intrusion in day-to-day DC. On Tuesday evening, as AP’s Jonathan […]
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