A common pesticide may be a menace to pollinators. Know how to protect them.

Many homeowners want to throw a lifeline to beleaguered bees and butterflies by planting pollinator gardens that will provide sustenance and habitat, but the unwitting use of insecticides may lure these beloved insects to their doom.

The worry is that a common type of pesticide known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, will poison honeybees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies — all the species of insects that we want in our gardens.

For a decade, neonics have dominated a frustrating quest to find a cause for the loss of commercial beehives in agriculture, but the issue has also moved into the garden, particularly with new legislation in Maryland. If the Pollinator Protection Act is signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan this month, consumers will not be able to buy neonic insecticides after 2017. Farmers and licensed applicators could still use them.

The pesticide industry says neonics are safe, that honeybees are doing all right and that the law “inexplicably blames homeowners for the nonexistent decline in bees.” But those who want to see broader restrictions for neonics in the United States are buoyed by it. Hogan has yet to announce whether he will sign the bill.

“It’s important that Maryland be the leader and show the rest of the United States these are really harmful compounds and we need to limit their use,” said April Boulton, associate professor of biology at Hood College in Frederick. She was among scientists testifying for the bill earlier this year.

Read full story here: Washington Post

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