Bumblebees show signs of pesticide addiction

New research conducted by scientistsow from Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London showed that bumblebees prefer food containing a certain type of pesticide moreow, but also experience something akin to addiction.

The study was conducted on 10 colonies of bumblebees. Individuals from these colonies were given a choice of two rotive sourcesoof food. One was a simple sugar solution, and the other was the same solution, but also contained neonicotinoid pesticides. The study lasted 10 days.

Neonicotinoids are compounds included in the group of neuroactive insecticidesow, that is, to the middleoin insectoboThe bumblebees are used for pest controloin agricultural crops. They are chemically related to nicotine and damage the nervous system probiting insects to get to the cropsow. They are roAlso the most widely used class of agentsow insectoboy in the world.

The study found that bumblebees initially chose food without the added pesticideow, but over time they fed more readily on food with added neonicotinoidsow. Even after switching the position of the feederow, insects were still more likely to visit the one with a solution containing pesticides. It also shows that bumblebees can detect neonicotinoids in food.

After feeding on food containing these pesticides, the bumblebees kept coming back for more. The researchers returnedoThey were paying attention to the insect’s behaviorow, whichore looked strikingly similar to humans, in which theorych develops a kind of addiction to a particular substance.

– Bumblebees, whichore had not encountered pesticides before, when confronted with food choices, they seemed to avoid foods treated with neonicotinoids. However, as the postolne individuals increasingly experienced food with the pesticide, they developed a clear preference for it – said study leader Richard Gill of Imperial College London.

This is a particularolnie intriguing, given the close chemical compound neonicotinoidow with a very well-known addictive substance – nicotine. – Interestingly, neonicotinoids target nerve receptorsoin insectow, whichore are similar to the receptorsoin nicotine in mammalsow – admitted Gill.

– Our finding that bumblebees acquire a craving for neonicotinoids shows some signs of addiction, which is intriguing given the addictive properties of nicotine in humans, although more research is needed to confirm this in bees as wellol – Gill added.

– A lot of research has been done feeding bees only pesticide-laden food, but in fact wild bees have a choice ofor, where to feed. We wanted to know if bees can detect pesticides and ultimately learn to avoid them by eating uncontaminated food – explained Andres Arce, cooroutor of research. The study found that bumblebees can.

– While initially it seemed that the insects avoided pesticide-laden foods, over time it became apparent that bumblebees increased their visits to feeders with pesticide-laden foods. We must now conduct further research to sprob to understand the mechanism for whichorego acquire this preference – added by Arce.

Neonicotinoids have for several years now been the mainow some suspect in the mass extinction of beeso³, although their impact on them is hotly debated. In 2013, the European Union partially banned three of the most popular neonicotinoidsow РClothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.

A few months ago, a partial ban was voted for a complete one. The decision was also supported by Poland, but recently Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski took the opportunity to overturn the ban at the national level and neonicotinoids can be used for 120 days on rapeseed in Poland.

– Wokol neonicotinoidoin the accrued controversy. However, if we don’t understand the effect of theoin their replacement (by other means), then I think it is prudent for us to take advantage of the current knowledge and conduct further research to ensure that the following are indicatedoThe research is being carried out at the University of Science and Technology in Krakowoin a more responsible manner, instead of banning them altogether – noted Gill.

Sourceobackground: Imperial College London, fot. Sffubs/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0