Xerces Model Policy to Protect Pollinators from Harmful Pesticide Exposures

There’s a lot that can be accomplished to spur common-sense pesticide policies at the local level. Across the country cities such as Boulder, Colorado have introduced policy to protect pollinators from pesticides at the city or municipal level.

You can work with your city council or local government to introduce similar policy to make your community more pollinator-friendly. Xerces is often asked what a local policy should include, in response we created a model policy to protect pollinators from harmful pesticide exposures.

Whether you use our model policy or another, it should addresses these critical issues:

  • • Eliminating the use of neonicotinoid insecticides and other highly toxic, systemic insecticides
  • • Restricting the purchase and use of products that contain neonicotinoids and seeds or plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids
  • • Implementing integrated pest management on municipal property that relies on non-chemical options first
  • • Avoiding cosmetic pesticide applications
  • • Engaging residents through education about pollinators and pesticides.

The text of our model policy is included below, or you may click here to download the text as a Word document.



WHEREAS, the loss of pollinators is alarmingly high, with honey bee colonies experiencing significant annual losses, and with populations of native bees and other pollinators also in decline; and

WHEREAS, these declines are driven by a number of factors including habitat loss, pesticide exposure, lack of forage, and climate change; and

WHEREAS, populations of pollinators can be supported and enhanced by increasing native habitat that is protected from pesticide contamination; and

WHEREAS, threats to pollinators concern the entire food system, where pollination services provided by honey bees and other essential pollinators account for one in every three bites of food and are valued at $20 to $30 billion in agricultural production annually in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the use of neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides, is associated with lethal and sub-lethal effects on bees that impair foraging patterns, navigating and learning behavior, alter reproductive cycles, and impair immune systems leading to increased susceptibility to pathogens and reduced colony survival; and

WHEREAS, a large and growing body of independent, peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrate that existing neonicotinoid contamination in the environment can adversely impact birds, aquatic organisms and the ecosystems they support; and

WHEREAS, research has shown that many pesticides, including fungicides and herbicides, can also pose risks to already-compromised bees and other pollinators; and

WHEREAS, the use of pesticides is often cosmetic and is not necessary to create and maintain landscapes, gardens or open spaces, given the availability of viable alternative practices and products; and

WHEREAS, integrated pest management – designed to manage pests by addressing the underlying sources of the pest problems, prioritizing non-chemical techniques and those that are least toxic to humans and the environment – strengthens efforts to protect pollinators; and

WHEREAS, pesticide regulations at the federal and state level, and the risk assessments that inform them, fail to account for many factors that influence the risks pesticides pose.



The use of any neonicotinoid insecticides or other systemic insecticides that are highly toxic is hereby prohibited on all land owned or operated by [the city].

[The city] shall not purchase landscaping materials, including plants and seeds, that have been treated with neonicotinoids. [The city] will urge all government entities, businesses, homeowners and homeowner associations operating within [the city] to take steps to ensure no plants, seeds or products containing neonicotinoids are purchased, sold or used within [the city].

Pest management on land owned or operated by [the city] will follow integrated pest management techniques. Pesticides will only be used on land owned or operated by [the city] when there is a justifiable need for the pesticide to be applied.  A justified use is supported by evidence that a pest or disease outbreak exists or has strong potential to exist. Pest management on land owned or operated by [the city] will also avoid cosmetic applications. [The city] will provide training on integrated pest management for employees who are responsible for pest management.

[The city] recognizes the importance of pollinators and their services, and will support and actively engage in efforts to educate the broader community about the actions it is taking. [The city] will encourage other entities, businesses, schools, neighborhoods and households, and also the county, state and federal governments to adopt similar policies to support pollinators and avoid cosmetic pesticide use.


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Pesticide Learning Center

Use the links below to learn about pesticide impacts and alternatives

IPI Database

Examining the impacts of pesticides on invertebrates, the IPI Database is a collection of summaries of recent research articles reviewed by our pesticide program staff. Most studies are focused on the effects that pesticides have on invertebrates, primarily pollinators and aquatic species. Visit the Database

Neonicotinoids and Bees


Now availaible as a revised and expanded second edition, our report examins the science behind the role these insecticides play in harming bees. Read More

Rethinking Pesticides


Our Fall 2015 issue of Wings is entirely devoted to discussing pesticide-related issues and implications across the landscape.Read More

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