According to a news release from Environmental New Network, the bird and bee populations have been dwindling because of pesticides containing nicotine. Neonicotinoids, a derivative of the substance, are essentially glued onto plant seeds which are then ingested by insects. When the insects die off, a primary food supply disappears for the birds. Bees are also affected because it interferes with their navigational systems so they neglect feeding and tending to larvae. See an excerpt below.
Modern Insecticides' Devastating Effects
From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published November 16, 2010 09:30 AM
"Like DDT before it, a new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids is believed to be causing drastic population declines in bird species. It is so effective at killing insects, that it has deprived birds of their basic food. Some scientists also believe they are behind the decline in bee populations in Europe and the United States known as honey-bee Colony Collapse Disorder...
The effectiveness of this pesticide has certainly taken a toll on insects, but has taken a much more noticeable toll on birds. In Britain, the house sparrow population has declined by 68 percent since 1977. Since 1994, the common swift population has shrunk by 41 percent and the starling by 26 percent. Other birds affected include the spotted flycatcher, wood warbler, snipe, and song thrush.
Neonicotinoids are used on a level far lower than DDT was used back in its time, but since it is so efficient at killing insects, it is having the same effect. For that reason, it is loved by farmers in protecting their crops. The chemical also makes the plants more resistant to drought, low pH levels, heat stress, and viral infections."
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Image courtesy of ENN.com.