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354-How Pesticide Regulations Fail Pollinators, with the Xerces Society

| Care, Podcast

Pesticide regulations are designed to reduce the harm that pesticide use has on humans and wildlife, but they are not intended to eliminate all risks and ecological damage. To explain how gaps in pesticide regulations fail pollinators and other beneficial insects, pollinator conservation specialist Emily May of the Xerces Society joins me on the podcast this week.

Emily holds a master’s in entomology (the study of insects) from Michigan State and a bachelor’s in biology and environmental studies from Middlebury College in Vermont. She has studied pollinator habitat restoration, bee nesting habits and the effects of pest management practices on native bee communities. She joined the Xerces Society in 2015 and has focused on supporting crop pollinators through habitat creation and protecting bees and other beneficial insects from pesticides. She recently wrote a post for the Xerces Society titled “Four Key Gaps in Pesticide Regulation for Protecting Pollinators,” which sparked my interest and led to this week’s podcast topic.

 

Emily May is a pollinator conservation specialist at the Xerces Society.

Emily May is a pollinator conservation specialist with the Xerces Society.

 

Emily grew up in the D.C. area with parents who were avid gardeners. Her father is a Master Gardener and Master Composter (and he likes to add Master Bloviator to that list.)  They didn’t have space in their yard for a garden so they had community garden plots. “I remember growing up pulling potatoes and picking beans and all of those things,” she says. “I have my own garden now, at last, as an adult.”

 “I’ve generally always had a natural curiosity for the natural world,” she says, “but earlier on it was focused more on the plants and less on the bugs that were on the plants.”

Her interest in pollinators grew out of her interest in food and agriculture, as she learned about the important role that honeybees and native bees play in crop pollination.

“Then I realized there were all these other pollinators out there pollinating our wild plants, and so when I was an undergrad at Middlebury College in Vermont, that was when I first really got interested in learning about native pollinators and put a pollinator garden outside the science building at Middlebury College that’s still there,” she says. “And then went on to grad school looking at entomology and ecology and learning about the wild bees that pollinate Michigan blueberries.”

The Xerces Society

Emily’s role with Xerces was the first job she took on after grad school, in 2015.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation was founded by butterfly scientists in 1971, named for the extinct xerces blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities. The society was started to conserve butterflies across the United States and Canada, and now works across all different kinds of invertebrates, from freshwater mussels to at-risk stoneflies. A large team within the society concentrates on pollinator conservation specifically, putting habitat in the ground and working with farmers to conserve pollinators on working land. 

“I work on the pesticide reduction team supporting all of that work, making sure that we are doing our due diligence to understand the threat of pesticides to all of these different invertebrates, and doing our best to protect and conserve that wildlife that we’re working towards,” Emily says.

You can learn more about Emily’s work by checking out her videos on the Xerces Society YouTube channel, which is full of good information. 

The Key Threats Pollinators Are Facing

Pollinators face a variety of key threats that a lot of different wildlife are facing at the same time, Emily says.

Habitat loss threatens pollinators in a variety of ways. “Loss of food and shelter, loss of places to migrate through if you’re a migratory insect like the monarch butterfly, and degradation of that habitat too,” Emily says. “There’s only small patches of habitat left across the landscape.”

“Pesticides are really a key threat to a lot of wildlife, including pollinators, and one of the things that drives our emphasis on ensuring that pollinators are protected from pesticides is that pollinators actually face greater challenges from pesticides today than they did even 20 years ago,” she says. “And so, over the last two decades, you’ll hear that the message that the use of insecticides applied to crops has gone down, which is true in terms of volume, but what’s actually true for pollinators is that there’s more toxic load in the environment for honeybees over time, even as the use by volume has gone down.”

Pathogens and disease, such as American foulbrood and Varroa mite, affect honeybees. Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, known as OE, is a parasite that harms monarch butterflies. These are just a few of the many pathogenic threats to pollinators.

Competition from nonnative plants and insects depletes food sources for native insects. When invasive species drive out native plants that pollinators coevolved with, those native pollinators struggle to find compatible pollen and nectar sources and host plants. And invasive generalist species will compete with them for the food sources that are available. 

Climate change is affecting the ranges of native pollinators and their host plants. Shrinking ranges and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events associated with climate change threatens their continued existence.  “We’re seeing some of the impacts here in Vermont,” Emily says. “We had huge flooding events this summer, and most of our native bees in Vermont are ground-nesting bees. So I would imagine that this coming summer we are going to see fewer of those ground-nesting bees emerging from the places that had significant inundation from the flooding events. That sort of thing is something I think we’ll see more of into the future with those climate change-driven weather events.”

 

The green sweat bee Agapostemon virescens visiting Liatris spicata.

The green sweat bee Agapostemon virescens visiting Liatris spicata. Loss of native plants threatens native pollinator species.
Photo Credit: Emily May

 

Neonics and Other Systemic Pesticides

“Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides introduced in the ’90s to great fanfare because they had lower human health impacts than the organophosphate insecticides, which were phased out over that timeframe,” Emily says. “But neonics are very highly toxic to insects, and especially bees. And so they represent a lot of that jump in toxic load for bees over time. So over the last 30 years, the increase in toxicity to bees has largely come from the neonicotinoids, but also the pyrethroid insecticides that are used frequently in crops.”

There was a time when we thought neonics might be a better way, because, we assumed, if beneficial insects are not eating the plant, they’re not being exposed to the chemical that is taken up within the plant. Well, that’s definitely not the case, as we’ve learned in recent years. 

“Neonicotinoids are systemic,” Emily notes. “So they are these water-soluble insecticides that can get taken up by a plant.” They’re used in the traditional way, which is applying a foliar spray to a crop, and also used as seed coatings.

“Pesticide-coated seeds really have limited oversight, but make up a substantial portion of U.S. pesticide use,” Emily says.

Some of that coating is taken up into the plant, and much of it ends up in the environment. 

“They’re used across over 150 million acres of cropland on corn,” she says. “So the vast majority of our corn seed is treated with a neonicotinoid as well as usually mixed with a fungicide of some kind. They’re used on many other row crops — cotton and soybean — and they’re used in a variety of others, including squash and sunflower and alfalfa and other things.”

In corn treated with neonics, about 2 to 3% of the active ingredient ends up in the plant, Emily says, and more than 90% ends up elsewhere in the environment, including soil, air, water and plants. Wildflowers growing around crop fields take up neonics and express them in their pollen and nectar, which are then picked up by bees.

Here we are planting these pollinator-attracting flowers all around only to find out that the neonics are translocating right up into those plants and reaching the bees and other pollinators.

“These seed treatments fall into an interesting and unfortunate loophole in our regulatory system,” Emily says.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, is the main law in the United States governing pesticides, and it allows the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate pesticides. The law includes an exemption for pesticides applied to something other than a crop itself — such as seed coatings. 

“It is sent out into the world and not tracked and not regulated as a pesticide in the same way that other pesticides would have to be kept as records on the farm, for example,” Emily says.

“We also have very little data on how those pesticides are being used as seed treatments, and we think that more than 10% of insecticide use in agriculture is not being tracked because it is coming in the form of these seed treatments,” she says.

Hearing this makes me do a facepalm, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you have the same reaction.

“There are many other ways that our regulatory system falls short in terms of pollinator protections, but that’s a big one in terms of risk to bees, specifically, because neonics are so highly toxic to bees,” Emily continues. “And there are other chemicals that are also used as seed treatments, like these new chemicals called the diamides, which include a few seed treatments also used in row crops that are very highly toxic to monarch butterflies.”

Diamides are systemic pesticides, like neonics. They are taken up by plants like milkweed along the row edges of crop fields, potentially exposing monarch caterpillars to those chemicals as well. 

 

Corn seeds coated with pesticides

Over 90 percent of corn seeds in the United States are treated with a neonicotinoid insecticide.
Photo Credit: Emily May

 

Monarch Decline

The New York Times reported this month that the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico found in an annual survey that the number of monarch butterflies at overwintering areas in Mexico dropped this year to the second-lowest level on record. The reason was tracked back to the loss of food sources due to climate change. 

“We were very disappointed to see that the population continues to decline from when we first started tracking it a few decades ago,” Emily says. “There are a lot of drivers of monarch loss, but pesticides do factor into that constellation of drivers like habitat loss in their overwintering sites and across their whole migratory range and climate change.”

She notes that a recent study found that shifts in insecticide use toward neonicotinoid-treated seeds were associated with an 8% decline in butterfly species diversity across the entire corn belt, including the monarch butterfly.

 

Monarch butterfly on aster

Pesticides are one of the threats that contribute to declining monarch butterfly populations. (Photo Credit: Amy Prentice)

 

Neonicotinoids in the Home Gardener Market

Neonics are available to home gardeners for topical applications and soil drenches. Soil drenches may seem like they wouldn’t be an issue for pollinators, since they are not applied to the plant directly, but those soil drenches are taken up by the plants through their roots, leading to neonics getting into the plant tissue, pollen and nectar. 

Neonics and other systemic insecticides are a real challenge because they are invisible but still present in the plant, Emily says.

In the leaves of butterfly host plants, neonics are eaten by butterfly caterpillars. In flowering plants, neonics in pollen and nectar are consumed by bees and other insects.

“The dose makes the poison with pesticides, and dose is also combined with exposure route,” Emily notes. “A lot of our bees nest in the ground, so when we’re applying pesticides to the soil, whether that’s a granular lawn treatment for lawn grubs or a soil drench to a tree, that affects our bees that are nesting in those spaces. And these chemicals are very mobile and they’re very persistent. So there’s a lot of ways for bees to pick them up in the environment.”

Ground-nesting bees are often overlooked because we don’t see them unless they’re coming or going. They’re out of sight, out of mind — unless we make a conscious effort to recognize the wildlife under the land that we steward.

 

Ground-nesting bees

Many native bees nest in the soil where they can encounter pesticides.
Photo Credit: Emily May

 

The Compounding Detrimental Effects of the ‘-cides’

“Pesticide” is a broad term that encompasses much more than insecticides. It includes herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, avicides — all the -cides that kill things that we don’t want to have in our landscape, Emily explains.

Researchers are becoming increasingly aware of and concerned about the impacts of these other pesticides on pollinators, she says. 

“Fungicides are used for a variety of different plant diseases, and they’re commonly applied in crops like apples or cherries that bees love and love to come to those flowers,” she says.

Growers who are concerned about bee toxicity refrain from applying insecticides during bloom time, but they do apple fungicides at the time to target, for example, brown rot, which is a problem during bloom time. Bees then pick up that fungicide in pollen. 

“Fungicides can cause subtle but significant harm to pollinators, including effects on offspring, effects on their microbiome and ability to handle exposure to other chemicals in the environment,” Emily says. “So many common fungicides actually synergize or increase the toxicity of insecticides to bees. So when bees are out flying around, they’re not just visiting one thing, they’re visiting lots of things across the landscape. They’re becoming exposed to whatever’s been applied across that entire flight range. So if they’re picking up fungicide, let’s say from a cherry blossom, and then picking up insecticide, let’s say from a lawn treatment that’s ended up in a plant, those two things can interact in their body to increase the toxicity of that insecticide to the pollinator and create more harm than one at a time.”

 

Pesticides application

Pesticides can drift long distances from aerial applications made to crop fields or for mosquito control.
Photo Credit: Emily May

 

Synthetic and Organic Pesticides

Insecticides come in synthetic products and organically derived products, but organic does not equate to safe for wildlife. Organic is not necessarily a more benign option. 

Emily co-wrote for the Xerces Society “Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects,” a free PDF guide on the relative toxicity of different organic pesticides to pollinators. 

“Organic pesticides can be quite toxic to pollinators on an individual basis,” Emily says. “So that would be things like spinosad or pyrethrins — specific organic pesticides that have high toxicity to bees. There are others that are commonly used like neem oil, which has a couple of different modes of action, but in part, it is an insect growth regulator, so it affects developing larvae more so than it does adults.”

Neem oil on a butterfly host plant will kill butterfly caterpillars. 

“Thinking about how we protect our butterflies, we don’t want to be applying neem oil to a host plant,” Emily says.

But on the whole, organics are the better choice for the environment. 

“There is this misconception that organic pesticides or organic agriculture are equivalent to pesticide use to conventional ag, and I do want to make sure that we understand that organic comes with a whole bunch of restrictions on what they can actually use, and that it’s a very limited suite of materials that are available for use in organic ag compared to conventional ag,” Emily says. “Organic can’t use neonicotinoids or pyrethroids or organophosphates or diamides. All of those are conventional pesticides, and the two are really not equivalent in terms of total toxic load to pollinators.”

Pyrethroids vs. Pyrethrin

Pyrethroids are a synthetic version of pyrethrins, a common and natural pesticide derived from the Chrysanthemum daisy. Pyrethrin is a very effective organic control that is highly toxic to pollinators, and pyrethroids are a super-charged version of that. Pyrethrin breaks down relatively quickly in the environment because it is unstable and degrades in UV light. Pyrethroids are stable and long lasting, making them more harmful to pollinators. 

Emily says backyard mosquito treatments marketed as “botanically based” are often, in actuality, made with pyrethroids rather than pyrethrin. “That backyard pyrethroid treatment is going to affect far more than mosquitoes,” Emily says. “It will affect your ladybugs and your other insects, your pollinators visiting flowers in your backyard.”

In agriculture, a pesticide is often mixed with another chemical, called a synergist, to make it more lethal. Not only does it become more effective at killing pests, it also becomes more deadly to non-target insects.

Regulatory Gaps

“With these pesticides, we’re weighing environmental harm against economic benefit in agriculture,” Emily says. “So many things get released out for use and then become commonly applied even though they have known harm to a variety of different kinds of wildlife.”

When a pesticide is registered for use in agriculture or horticulture, that does not equate to it being safe, Emily says. What that means is that there is an economic benefit to using it even though there are also known risks, she explains. 

“There are a few hoops that a chemical has to jump through to get approved for use as a pesticide,” Emily says. “There’s testing that happens, and modeling to make sure that there’s an understanding of the risk to human health so that there’s a battery of tests around that. And then there’s also a risk assessment process for the environmental risks, and pollinators are one piece of that.”

The standards for the safety of terrestrial insects are all based on one insect, the European honeybee. “There’s some lab testing that happens to do a standard screen on adult honeybees, but we don’t have a standard butterfly species. We don’t have a standard beetle species. None of those insects get tested for toxicity of pesticides.”

Adult bees are screened, and modeling is done to determine the possible environmental effects. The pesticide is also subject to a cost-benefit analysis. “So the standard is not, ‘Is this harmful? Let’s not use it.’ It’s typically, ‘Is this harmful? Yes. What’s the economic benefit, and does it outweigh that potential harm? And can we mitigate it a little bit through some of the restrictions on pesticide labels?’”

Integrated pest management, or IPM, grew out of this idea of weighing the costs and the benefits. IPM dictates using the least impactful methods possible, and only using more harmful and disruptive methods of pest control if the economic costs of not doing so merit it.

Most seed treatments are being used without any evidence that there is a pest, Emily points out. The seed treatments are used proactively. “It would be like taking an antibiotic every year just in case you get sick, but with no evidence of sickness,” she says. “… and that violates all the concepts in IPM of justifying the use of something that has known environmental cost by saying there’s a pest here at a damaging level.”

The prevalence of seed treatments is not tracked in the agriculture space or in the home and garden space. 

“My understanding is that there is an increase in use of seed treatments in home and garden seeds,” Emily says. “I’m not exactly sure what’s in all of those different seed treatments. You do start to see more of the pelletized seeds coming in, and they say neonic-free, but I don’t know what’s on them. And they aren’t reported on the seed package.”

 

Peach grower spraying oil on orchard in dormant season - Robert Burns - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Flickr Creative Commons

Organic pesticides can have detrimental effects on beneficial insects just as synthetic pesticides can. Photo Credit: Robert Burns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Flickr Creative Commons

 

Post-Approval Monitoring Needed

What Emily believes is missing from the regulatory framework is post-approval monitoring. 

“There’s very little monitoring in the environment of what kind of residues our wildlife are experiencing, and that is mostly coming in through independent researchers and also some water quality testing that happens,” she says. “But I think in a better world, we would have monitoring of what’s entering our air and soil and water and plants to make sure that we are not overburdening our wildlife with pesticides, which I think is really what is happening, unfortunately.”

It makes me wonder, what’s going to lead to more monitoring? Obviously, increased monitoring comes at a financial cost, and the will to do so also needs to be there.

“Pharmaceutical drugs get a battery of testing ahead of time and then follow-up,” Emily points out. “If we find out that there’s harm from them on the backend, that would be pulled from the market. That’s less likely to occur with pesticides than it is with pharmaceuticals.”

Single-Chemical Testing Is Inadequate

“Bees move around a landscape and are exposed to lots of different chemicals at one time, picking up, let’s say, a fungicide in one place and an insecticide in another place,” Emily says. “But the way that the regulatory system is set up is that we screen chemicals on a single-chemical basis. So one at a time, even though we know that animals like pollinators are picking up upwards of 50 or 60 pesticides at one time in pollen. And so that complex cocktail can have a lot of different unexpected side effects. Just like when we have lots of things entering our bodies at one time, they interact in the bee’s body.”

Couple single-chemical-based testing with the fact that chemicals are only being tested on honeybees. “That’s likely to underestimate the impacts of the combined and cumulative exposures to those complex mixtures in landscapes where bees are encountering all these things at once.”

She points out that monarch butterflies tend to be less susceptible than honeybees to neonics, but on the flip side, they’re extremely sensitive to diamide insecticides.

“So we need to be understanding that the risk may not be well captured by the honeybee, and that there might be these other risks that we haven’t found that are out there, but we aren’t testing for them. And so they get missed before a pesticide gets approved for use.”

Sub-lethal Effects of Pesticides 

Pesticides are tested to see if they kill 50% of an insect population within 48 hours.  They are not tested for the detrimental effects that they have on insects short of death. 

“Did they have fewer offspring? Were they able to successfully nest? Were they able to successfully forage?” — these are all questions Emily says are not being asked in pesticide regulation. 

Pesticide exposure can lead to bees that have a lower ability to reproduce and a skewed sex ratio, meaning the ratio of males to females is off. When a population has more males, it is difficult for the population to sustain itself. The insect population may also suffer from lower overwintering success.

Missed Risks

“Instead of saying, ‘Okay, it went through the approval process, that means that it’s safe for use,’ I think we need to react to it by understanding that there’s uncertainty and likely missed risk that we need to respond to with caution and say, ‘In the face of uncertainty, we need to be using the precautionary principle and minimizing our use of this.’ Because we know that there are likely to be harms that haven’t been captured,” Emily says.

Good News

“It’s hard to talk about pesticides because it does feel like an overwhelming and somewhat depressing picture,” Emily says. “But there is good news, which is, I think about your podcast listenership and how much collective acreage might be being managed by folks who really care about this issue and are thinking about it and can make those types of changes to avoid pesticides in their own gardens and landscapes that they manage.

They may also be interested in working at the community level to solve this problem and approach municipalities that might be interested in working toward solutions.

Sometimes we think we can’t make a difference, but there are a lot of gardeners out there, and our collective actions add up.

“Home and garden use represents upwards of 25% of all insecticide use in the United States, so it is a really big sector and a place where we can make a big difference,” Emily says. “Because a lot of that use is going in for aesthetic reasons, and not for economic reasons, like it is in agriculture. It’s not for a bottom line, it’s just to make a space look a little prettier.”

Emily has added many host plants in her garden for the sake of beneficial insects. 

“I’m introducing lots of host plants because I love to see those types of small interactions, and often what that means is those plants get destroyed in the garden,” she says.

She planted some pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), which is a host plant for the American lady butterfly, and the next year it came up and started to look awful. “It was just covered with webbing and frass, and the leaves were getting destroyed,” she recalled. 

She was convinced that the plant was going to die, but then she looked closer and noticed eight or 10 American lady caterpillars on those plants. She stepped back and refrained from doing anything, and a few weeks later, the plants looked amazing.  

“That plant has lived with the American Lady Butterfly for many, many, many years, and it has adapted to withstand that kind of damage from the caterpillars,” Emily says. “So it looked gorgeous later on, and you would never know that it had produced all of these caterpillars and butterflies.  

She advised that if your plant looks damaged, look closer and figure out what insects are present on the plant. Sometimes it could be what we would consider a pest, but it could be a caterpillar of a moth or a butterfly species that you will be excited to see as an adult later on.

Identification is key. You can’t call an insect a pest until you know what it is.

“We have all these tools now at our disposal on our smartphones where we can take a picture of something and put it in iNaturalist or seek or one of these apps, and it’ll tell us what it thinks it is. And you can learn so much about what’s around you just with your phone.”

Gardeners can act on the individual level at home and on the community level to change HOA bylaws and local ordinances regarding pesticide use and native plants. There are initiatives like Bee City, Bee Campus and Pollinator Pathway that gardeners can encourage their local towns and colleges to join.

“There are ways that we can push outside of just the space that we are individually managing to make these changes at the community or the state, even sometimes at the federal level,” Emily says.

The Xerces Society and like-minded organizations work to equip gardeners with the tools and know-how they need to effect change.

“I’m very proud to work at the Xerces Society,” Emily says. “We are a science-based organization. I’m working with this group of such caring scientists to work on these issues. … We have integrity. We are not accepting funds from pesticide manufacturers or extractive industries. And I think that also sets us apart in the work that we do. It is transparent and it is honest, and it also includes a lot of great resources for every type of audience that might be interested in doing this type of conservation work. If you’re a home gardener, we have resources for you. If you are a utility company looking to expand pollinator habitat in your rights of way, we have information for you too. So come to the Resource Center and find out more.”

 

Bee in Flower

Spring is an important time for early pollinators like this mining bee on trillium.
Photo Credit: Emily May

 

If you haven’t listened to my conversation with Emily May about how pesticide regulations fail pollinators, you can do so now by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking the Play icon in the green bar under the page title. 

Do you take precautions when applying pesticides to protect pollinators? Let us know your results in the comments below.

Links & Resources

Some product links in this guide are affiliate links. See full disclosure below. 

Episode 012: Beneficial Garden Insects – Bringing Nature Home with Doug Tallamy

Episode 049: When Good Bugs Eat Bad Bugs: The Business of Beneficial Insects

Episode 067: Predatory Beneficial Insects: Feared Foes of Garden Pests, Pt. 1

Episode 071: Gardening for Wildlife: How-to Create an Inviting Habitat, with NWF’s David Mizijewski

Episode 102: The Pollinating Power of Solitary Bees, and How to Attract These Gentle Insects To Your Backyard Garden

Episode 147: Monarchs and Milkweed: A Precarious Struggle Between Life and Death

Episode 195: Identifying and Controlling Garden Pests Organically

Episode 230: Monarch Rx: The Prescription for Healthier Butterflies

Episode 239: Pollinators of Native Plants: How to Attract, Observe and Identify These Essential Insects 

Episode 258: Averting the Insect Apocalypse, with Dave Goulson

Episode 316: Celebrate Pollinator Week with Pollinator Partnership

Episode 331: The Ecological Garden Blueprint: 10 Essential Steps That Matter Most 

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joegardener Online Gardening Academy Beginning Gardener Fundamentals: Essential principles to know to create a thriving garden.

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Growing Epic Tomatoes: Learn how to grow epic tomatoes with Joe Lamp’l and Craig LeHoullier. 

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Master Pests, Diseases & Weeds: Learn the proactive steps to take to manage pests, diseases and weeds for a more successful garden with a lot less frustration. Just $47 for lifetime access!

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Perfect Soil Recipe Master Class: Learn how to create the perfect soil environment for thriving plants.

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Four Key Gaps in Pesticide Regulation for Protecting Pollinatorsby Emily May | Xerces Society 

Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects” by Emily May, Aimee Code, Mace Vaughan and Sara Morris | Xerces Society 

Xerces Society: Pollinator Conservation Resource Center

Monarch Butterfly Numbers Are Down Sharply at Wintering Areas in Mexico” by Catrin Einhorn | The New York Times 

Bee City

Bee Campus 

Pollinator Pathway

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Disclosure: Some product links in this guide are affiliate links, which means we get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the prices of these resources have been increased to compensate us, and compensation is not an influencing factor on their inclusion here. The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast was based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship. At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Greenhouse Megastore, Territorial Seed Company, Earth’s Ally, Proven Winners ColorChoice and Dramm. These companies are either Brand Partners of joegardener.com and/or advertise on our website. However, we receive no additional compensation from the sales or promotion of their product through this guide. The inclusion of any products mentioned within this post is entirely independent and exclusive of any relationship.

About Joe Lamp'l

Joe Lamp’l is the creator and “joe” behind joe gardener®. His lifetime passion and devotion to all things horticulture has led him to a long-time career as one of the country’s most recognized and trusted personalities in organic gardening and sustainability. That is most evident in his role as host and creator of Emmy Award-winning Growing a Greener World®, a national green-living lifestyle series on PBS currently broadcasting in its tenth season. When he’s not working in his large, raised bed vegetable garden, he’s likely planting or digging something up, or spending time with his family on their organic farm just north of Atlanta, GA.

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