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|Effects of optical brighteners used in biopesticide formulations on the behavior of pollinators
Hughes, William O H
|Goulson D, Martinez A, Hughes WOH & Williams T (2000) Effects of optical brighteners used in biopesticide formulations on the behavior of pollinators. Biological Control, 19 (3), pp. 232-236. https://doi.org/10.1006/bcon.2000.0861
|A patent has been granted for the formulation of baculoviruses with stilbene-derived optical brighteners, a group of compounds that absorb ultraviolet (UV) radiation and emit visible blue wavelengths. These compounds are being extensively tested for control of forest-feeding lepidopterous insects in North America; optical brighteners may thus become a common ingredient in commercial baculovirus formulations in the near future. Many flower species use UV signals to attract insects and to direct them to the nectaries. We examined a possible consequence of field applications of optical brighteners: their effects on the ability of pollinators to find and handle flowers. In field studies carried out in Mexico and the United Kingdom on three different flower species, application of dilute (0.1% or 1%) concentrations of the optical brightener Tinopal CBS reduced recruitment of bees to flowers. Bees that approached flowers were less likely to land and feed on flowers treated with Tinopal than on controls. On one plant species, Trifolium repens, the time taken for bees to handle inflorescences was longer following applications of Tinopal. It seems that this optical brightener may both reduce recruitment of insects to flowers and interfere with their ability to locate rewards. Field-scale applications could reduce pollination of crops, weeds, and wildflowers and adversely affect bee populations. These possibilities should be examined in more detail before widespread applications of these compounds to the environment are made.
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