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ODA temporarily restricts use of some pesticides after bee deaths

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has announced it is restricting the use of 18 specific products containing the active ingredient dinotefuran while it investigates the recent deaths of an estimated 50,000 bumble bees in Wilsonville and Hillsboro. The restriction focuses on ornamental, turf and agricultural pesticide products that are used by both professional applicators and homeowners.

The temporary rule is effective immediately and will be enforced for 180 days. Failure to comply may result in suspension of operating licenses and civil penalties. During that time, ODA is expected to complete its investigations in collaboration with bee experts at Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Investigators will determine if the pesticide applications were in violation of state and federal pesticide regulations.

Initial lab tests confirmed that the bees died from exposure to dinotefuran, which is the active ingredient in the pesticide Safari. It is part of a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids. Bumble bees and other pollinating insects are essential to agriculture, forestry and many other industries and activities involving plants. It is a sobering reminder to all pesticide applicators and their employers to always read EPA-approved pesticide labels, follow the directions from the manufacturer, and only use the chemicals against targeted pests indicated specifically on the label. Products containing dinotefuran should never be applied to plants in bloom.

Properly used, neonicotinoids (including dinotefuran) are a valuable tool against dangerous and sometimes invasive pests found encountered in landscape maintenance and nursery production. They are important in maintaining the fight against the Japanese Beetle, and have been employed in the successful eradication efforts against Asian Longhorned Beetle, in protecting important ash trees from Emerald Ash Borer and in saving Eastern Hemlocks from Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. The OAN will monitor any efforts to regulate these chemicals, and is already communicating with decision makers to make sure the ability to properly use these pest control tools is appropriately preserved.

ODA’s Pesticide Program has established a website with more information on the dinotefuran restriction, including a list of specific products affected. These products will not be removed from store shelves, since many have uses that don't involve plant application. In addition to agricultural uses, the active ingredient dinotefuran is registered in Oregon for flea and tick control on pets or home ant and roach control. Usage of products containing dinotefuran for these purposes is not affected by the restriction.

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