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  • 13 Jul 2014

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State slaps temporary restrictions on chemicals traced to massive bee deaths.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it’s putting restrictions on the use of 18 pesticides that contain the active ingredient dinotefuran while it investigates massive bumblebee deaths in Wilsonville and Hillsboro.

By adopting a temporary regulation, the state agency said it’s trying to use an “abundance of caution” to avoid more large bee kills this summer.

“Conclusions from the investigation will help us and our partners evaluate whether additional steps need to be considered,” said ag department Director Katy Coba, in a prepared statement.

For more information on the new restrictions, including the specific list of affected products: oregon.gov/ODA/PEST/Pages/Pollinator.aspx.

Investigators suspect the bees were killed by an insecticide known as Safari, which contains dinotefuran. It was sprayed on linden trees in the Target parking lot in Wilsonville to kill aphids that were considered a nuisance to parked cars. The pesticide wound up killing some 50,000 bumblebees. Other bee deaths were recorded recently in Hillsboro.

Several hours before Coba announced temporary restrictions on the use of the pesticides, the Portland-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation called for local authorities to ban the cosmetic use of insecticides on public lands.

“The cost of losing pollinators far outweighs any value of controlling aphids on ornamental plants,” said Mace Vaughan, Xerces Society’s pollinator conservation director.

The group also urged homeowners to avoid purchasing products that contain the suspect chemicals, also known as neonicotinoids. A list of those products can be found at: www.xerces.org/pesticides.

“The Oregon bee poisoning is a clear warning,” said Dr. Marla Spivak, a global authority on bee health at the University of Minnesota. “We have to stop pesticide use in cases where human health or food security is not at risk.”