By John Wood, Certis USA Regional Manager, CA South Central Valley
I’ve been taking this “Ask the Expert” task to heart a lot lately and it occurred to me that there wasn’t a way for those of you reading to do just that—ask me questions. So, the Certis USA team and I worked together to create a mechanism for us to interact.
You can use that email address anytime to reach out to me with questions and your thoughts about any topic. You can ask me how our products perform, when you should be applying them, my predictions for the next growing season or even how the New Orleans Saints defense looked in the last game (bonus points if you want to talk football, by the way).
I will get back to your questions as soon as I am able and, in instances that would benefit that greater community, I might even share them on this column.
In the spirit of this, I wanted to take some time to address one of the questions that I hear a lot when I am out in the field.
What about the honeybees?
Actually, many people ask me about the relationship between Certis USA’s portfolio of biologicals and beneficial species of insects, mites, etc. A big part of that concern is for the threatened honeybee populations, but there are some others that we want to protect too.
The good news is that Certis USA’s products present a low impact to beneficial species when compared to many chemical insecticides and even some chemical fungicides.
How do we know this?
Firstly, many of the insecticides offered in our portfolio are targeted very specifically toward particular types of insect or mites.
For example, our Bt biolarvicide products, which are based on the beneficial bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, the first and most widely used biopesticide. Bt produces insecticidal proteins that narrowly target the cellular lining of the larval midgut, but only after activation by the alkaline conditions and enzymes specific to the caterpillar gut. That’s a very specific set of circumstances that limit these products to target and kill only caterpillars.
Many other Certis USA products carry the same level of specificity to their active ingredient, making them less risky to beneficial species, including honeybees. In addition, the majority of the products in our portfolio are free from toxic residue that can be left on the plant for a bee or other insect to ingest.
Secondly, as is the case for all EPA-registered insecticides, Certis USA is required to provide the EPA with evidence from scientific studies with nontarget beneficial insects (including honeybees) that these products do not present unacceptable risk to pollinators and natural biocontrol agents. If significant risk does exist, EPA may require mitigation language on the label to limit exposure of bees or other beneficials to harmful sprays or residues.
An important note: low risk does not mean zero risk. Always read the label instructions and follow any restrictions important to the protection of honeybees and other beneficial species.
Also, remember to email me your questions at [email protected]. I am looking forward to hearing from you!