General and species-specific impacts of a neonicotinoid insecticide on the ovary development and feeding of wild bumblebee queens

Gemma Baron, Nigel Raine, Mark Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bumblebees are essential pollinators of crops and wild plants, but are in decline across the globe. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been implicated as a potential driver of these declines, but most of our evidence-base comes from studies of a single species. There is an urgent need to understand whether such results can be generalised across a range of species. Here we present results of a laboratory experiment testing the impacts of field relevant doses (1.87 - 5.32ppb) of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on spring caught wild queens of four bumblebee species: Bombus terrestris, Bombus lucorum, Bombus pratorum and Bombus pascuorum. Two weeks of exposure to the higher concentration of thiamethoxam caused a reduction in feeding in two out of four species, suggesting species-specific anti-feedant, repellency, or toxicity effects. The higher level of thiamethoxam exposure resulted in a reduction in the average length of terminal oocytes in queens of all four species. In addition to providing the first evidence for general effects of neonicotinoids on ovary development in multiple species of wild bumblebee queens, the discovery of species-specific effects on feeding has significant implications for current practices and policy for pesticide risk assessment and use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Issue number1854
Early online date3 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

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