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1 September 2023 Toxicity of spray adjuvants and tank mix combinations used in almond orchards to adult honey bees (Apis mellifera)
Brandon Shannon, Emily Walker, Reed M. Johnson
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Commercial beekeepers transporting honey bees across the United States to provide almond pollination services have reported honey bee deaths, possibly due to pesticide applications made during crop bloom. Pesticides are often applied as “tank mixes”, or mixtures of fungicides and insecticides combined into a single application. Spray adjuvants are often added to tank mixes to improve the application characteristics of a pesticide and include spreaders, stickers, or surfactants. The goal of this research was to determine toxicity of adjuvants to adult worker honey bees, both when applied alone and in adjuvant-pesticide tank mixtures. Field-relevant combinations of formulated products were applied to 3-day-old adult worker honey bees using a Potter Spray Tower, and mortality was assessed 48 h following exposure. Adjuvants tested included Activator-90, Attach, Choice Weather Master, Cohere, Dyne-Amic, Induce, Kinetic, LI 700, Liberate, Nu-Film P, PHT Latron B-1956, and Surf-90; fungicides tested include Luna Sensation (Fluopyram and Trifloxystrobin), Pristine (Pyraclostrobin and Boscalid), Tilt (Propiconazole), and Vangard (Cyprodinil), and insecticides tested include Altacor (Chlorantraniliprole), Intrepid 2F (Methoxyfenozide), and a positive control Mustang Maxx (Zeta-cypermethrin). Results demonstrated that exposure to some adjuvants causes acute honey bee mortality at near-field application rates, both when applied alone and in combination with pesticides. Some adjuvant-pesticide combinations demonstrated increased toxicity compared with the adjuvant alone, while others demonstrated decreased toxicity. A better understanding of adjuvant and adjuvant-pesticide tank mixture toxicity to honey bees will play a key role in informing “Best Management Practices” for pesticide applicators using spray adjuvants during bloom when honey bee exposure is likely.

Brandon Shannon, Emily Walker, and Reed M. Johnson "Toxicity of spray adjuvants and tank mix combinations used in almond orchards to adult honey bees (Apis mellifera)," Journal of Economic Entomology 116(5), 1467-1480, (1 September 2023).
Received: 2 May 2023; Accepted: 1 August 2023; Published: 1 September 2023

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