Pesticides are killing us


Last updated 5/31/2022 at Noon


The red crossbill is just one of the millions of birds that are threatened by pesticides annually, and that’s just birds, not to mention the other millions of key insect species that are also killed by pesticides.

I’m not an alarmist, but I am a naturalist who has been a guest in this world we call home for nigh into 94 years. When I was a kid on the farm in West Haven, Connecticut, my grandfather swore by a chemical named Black Leaf 40, a so-called “safe,” biodegradable agricultural insecticide used around the world since the 1800s. It’s 40 percent nicotine sulfate and classified as little hazard to birds, fish, and beneficial insects. Hah!

There was no information on what happened to a bird, fish, or beneficial insect when they ate an insect that has died from Black Leaf 40. But there is today! Insecticides are responsible for the death of millions of insects, and birds ingest millions of insects, especially baby birds. Hummingbirds, for example, feed a protein paste to their babies made up of insects the adults harvest while slurping up nectar.

One of the U.S. chemical companies — I think it was Dow — made a statement years back that, “America is a better America through chemistry,” or something to that effect. But the insecticides that have followed Black Leaf 40 are something to be reckoned with, especially stuff with the derivative of nicotine in them, like the neonicotinoids.

Neonicotinoids (sometimes shortened to neonics) are a class of neuroactive insecticides chemically similar to nicotine — and nicotine is guts and feathers of the old Black Leaf 40.

In the 1980s, Shell, and in the 1990s, Bayer, started work on the development of neonics, and today it is the most widely used insecticide in the world — and is the most dangerous insecticide in the world.

On June 17, 2013, the largest native bee kill ever recorded occurred in Wilsonville, Oregon. More than 50,000 bumblebees died when 55 blooming linden trees were sprayed with the pesticide known as Safari in a Target parking lot.

Hundreds of wild bumblebee colonies were destroyed and thousands of contaminated bees were dying and gobbled up by birds. The worst thing about that particular incident is that it mirrored what has been going on for way too long: the indiscriminate use of pesticides without anyone monitoring the results on the natural world.

Another deadly chemical, bromethalin, is used in “Hawk Bait Chux,” stuff applied indiscriminately to kill rodents, a poison that keeps right on killing whoever ingests it — like owls, hawks, and eagles. It reminds us we’re living in the shadow of pretty nasty times. The fate of thousands of bumblebees killed by neonicotinoids made the headlines not too long ago, and yet that stuff is still on the market…

Every day, somewhere in the news, or general comments in the news about nature, we learn about the dangers of using chemicals and causing insects to vanish from the rarth, and the tragic results on mankind.

In my opinion, the only thing that matters to business people who work with chemicals is how much money they can make. Just go and look on your computer and see how many businesses have created ways to buy stuff that kills insects and other animals who share this beautiful earth with us.

On Tuesday, June 7, at 4 p.m. the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is doing a Zoom program on pesticides and other chemicals that are killing approximately 72 million birds annually. Anyone using anything to kill 72 million birds a year has to be stopped!

To learn about this worldwide tragedy, please sign in for ABC’s Zoom presentation:


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