John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Biopesticide‐induced behavioral and morphological alterations in the stingless bee Melipona quadrifasciata

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Due to their natural origin, biopesticides are assumed to be less harmful to beneficial insects, including bees, and therefore their use has been widely encouraged for crop protection. However, there is little evidence to support this ingrained notion of the biopesticide safety to pollinators. As larval exposure is still largely unexplored in ecotoxicology and risk assessment on bees, we investigated the lethal and sublethal effects of diet treated with two bioinsecticides, azadirachtin and spinosad, to the stingless bee, Melipona quadrifasciata, which is one of the most important pollinators in the Neotropics. The survival of the stingless bee larvae was significantly compromised with doses above 210 ng a.i./bee for azadirachtin and 114 ng a.i./bee for spinosad. No sublethal effect was observed in the larvae developmental time, but doses of both compounds negatively affected pupal body mass. Azadirachtin produced deformed pupae and adults due to its insect growth regulator properties, but spinosad was more harmful and produced greater number of deformed individuals. Only spinosad compromised the walking activity of the adult workers at doses as low as 2.29 ng a.i./bee, which is 1/5000 of the maximum field recommended rate. In conclusion, these results demonstrated that bioinsecticides could pose significant risks to native pollinators with lethal and sublethal effects, deserving future investigations on the likelihood of such effects under field conditions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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