Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bugs and Pesticides

It’s polling day tomorrow so what better subject to post about …

Writtle College celebrates 50 years of national insect survey

Every single day for almost half a century, insects have been collected at Writtle College for a national survey.

The College has been part of the Rothamsted Insect Survey for the last 46 years and has been recognised at a special ceremony for its important and voluntary contribution to understanding aphid and moth insect populations.

On the Lordship Campus, behind the laboratories and just next to a field full of oilseed rape, there is a 12.2m tall suction trap – one of only 15 in the country – and a light moth trap.

The suction trap sucks up insects from the air which are deposited into separate containers for each day. These are then collected by Writtle College staff and volunteer students twice a week and sent to the Rothamsted Insect Survey headquarters in Harpenden to be identified, counted, recorded and added to their database.

Jean Watson, Senior Science Technician explains: “Writtle College has been involved in the survey for at least 46 years. From the database, the Rothamsted Insect Survey team can alert farmers about potential infestations that could affect their crops, such as sugar beet, cereals or oilseed rape.

“Aphids act as viral vectors. As sap sucking insects they can pass on viruses as well as weakening crops thereby reducing potential crop yields. Likewise, the caterpillars of moths which use specific crops in their life cycle could potentially wipe out a whole crop, if not controlled.

“If the farmers know these insects are present, they can take preventative control measures to minimise crop damage.

“The survey also gives vital information in terms of conservation, the effect of climate change, the life cycle of insects and which species are prevalent at any one time. From this information, the team at Rothamsted can work out methods of maintaining and increasing the yield from crops, which is vital in light of the need for sustainable food production for increasing populations.”

Jean and her colleague Mandy Smith, Laboratory Technician Demonstrator, attended ‘50 years of the Rothamsted Insect Survey’ celebrations at Rothamsted Research on 29 April and received certificates recognising the huge voluntary task and contribution the College has made to understanding insect populations.

And via BugLife

Common pesticides more toxic than originally thought.

A new study has found that a number of commonly used pesticides are far more dangerous to humans than we have been led to believe. The study undertaken by a team in France looked at nine pesticides, three fungicides, insecticides and herbicides, including two neonicotinoids and Roundup, the most frequently used pesticide worldwide.

Pesticides contain two types of chemicals, the ‘active ingredient' which is tested during the regulation process, and adjuvants, chemicals added to the product which the pesticide companies call '‘inert'. These ‘inert' chemicals change the effect of other ingredients and so are added to increase the efficiency of the overall product, however the combined product is often not tested.

The study compared the toxicity on human cells of the active ingredient to the overall product used by the consumer. They found that 8 out of 9 products were up to one thousand times more toxic than the approved active ingredients with Roundup being one of the most toxic.

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, Buglife's Campaigns Officer said "There is a serious problem if the end product hasn't been properly tested. If we don't even know what these pesticides can do to humans, it's impossible to understand their effect on other wildlife and the environment. This has been flagged up in other studies but still hasn't been addressed".

Last year, the European Commission restricted the use of three of the five neonicotinoids approved for use in the European Union. The remaining two were deemed less dangerous and were not reviewed, even though a study in 2004 had shown that they became over a thousand times more toxic to bees when used with common fungicides, which often happens when crops are sprayed.

Editor: Barkingside 21 continue to monitor Political “life” in Redbridge and in particular political permaculture as a sustainable method of control. We will be publishing our findings shortly …


  1. Could they make a study of the demented moth?

    1. Moths are an essential part of the eco-system, both natural and political and of course will be included in our study.

    2. In casual studies I''ve always found the local indigenous moth to be nothing but. beneficial to the environment.

  2. ...and a very useful controlling factor to the havoc which might otherwise be created by lesser species of political insects.

  3. It's unusual these days to read anything about insects in this country that doesn't mention bees and the diseases that wipe out entire hives, leading to shortage of supply.

    It's not the same everywhere, apparently, which begs the question of if it is possible to be too green?

    In Brussels, it seems, there is hardly a rooftop left without one or two hives on it - around 55 million bees - which is causing a food shortage.

    As one comment puts it: “It’s as if people were to buy a cow, although they have no grass in their garden.”

    Full article here.

  4. Talking of bugs and pesticides be prepared to welcome your potential new B21 Committee member......