The Oregon Department of Agriculture has suspended the license of a commercial pesticide operator based in Eugene following an incident that has left an estimated 1,000 bees dead at a north Eugene apartment complex this week. The action taken against Glass Tree Care and Spray Service comes as ODA continues to investigate violation of the Oregon Pesticide Control Law. The company must comply with specific conditions before the license will be reinstated.
ODA’s investigation has found that an employee of the company applied a pesticide product containing the active ingredient imidacloprid on the grounds of the apartment complex earlier this week, including 17 linden trees– the same tree species involved in bee death incidents last year in Oregon. The trees in the Eugene incident were in full bloom and attracting pollinators. Most of the pollinators impacted by the pesticide application were bumblebees. However, some honeybees were also found dead and dying following the application.
Last year, based on the high profile incidents of bee deaths, ODA adopted a required label statement on pesticide products containing imidacloprid and dinontefuran prohibiting the application of these products on linden trees and other Tilia species.
For 2014, labels on these products distributed into Oregon must state the restriction. Products with the old label are still in channels of trade and may be used, but not when plants are in bloom. Applicators using products with the older label are urged to follow the restrictions on the newly revised products. The product used in this case had an older label, which alerts the user that the product is “highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues.”
Because of ODA’s extensive outreach and education regarding pollinator protection over the past year, the department believes that the pesticide applicator should have been aware of pollinator activity and should not have used the product in this case based on the label statement.
As a condition of license reinstatement, Glass Tree Care and Spray Service must have its applicator in this case retake and pass examinations required for a commercial pesticide applicator; the company must cooperate with ODA, to the department’s satisfaction, in preventing or mitigating further harm from incident; and the company must provide to ODA a written plan describing how it will set in place policies or protocols to prevent recurrences of incidents involving pesticide applications to plants in bloom.
ODA will continue its investigation and will pursue additional enforcement action.
Glass Tree Care and Spray Service has been cooperative throughout ODA’s investigation.
ODA, in cooperation with Oregon State University, is monitoring the apartment complex site and will take appropriate steps as needed to minimize further impacts on pollinators. ODA has also contacted all pesticide license holders in the state reminding them of restrictions in the use of the specific pesticide active ingredients, imidacloprid and dinotefuran. Additional information has also been placed on the ODA website regarding use of these products here.
For more information regarding the impact of pesticides on biodiversity and ecosystems, click here.