Insecticides- A type of pesticide that is used to specifically target and kill insects.

Neonicotinoids are a comparatively new class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. Included are imidacloprid (merit), acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Insects exposed to these chemicals lose the ability to react to stimuli, causing them to stop avoiding predators and to lose interest in reproduction-- eventually resulting in death. At the time neonics were discovered they were considered to be a reasonably low-risk insecticide-- compared to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, neonics cause less toxicity in birds and mammals than insects. Merit was first developed for grub control but it was soon discovered that it did well against billbugs, cinch bugs and mole crickets. 


In 2006 there was a dramatic rise in the number of annual beehive losses and this sparked interest- what factors are potentially affecting bee health. The recent research has suggested toxicity, even at low levels of contact, to honey bees and other beneficial insects. Neonicotinoids may impact bees’ ability to forage, learn and remember navigation routes to and from food. Neonicotinoids have also been explored with a combination with other factors, such as mites and pathogens, as potential causes of colony collapse disorder and may be responsible for detrimental effects on bumble bee colony growth and queen production.  A recent 2013 review concluded that neonicotinoids, as typically used, harm bees and that safer alternatives are desperately needed. In April 2015 the European Academies Science Advisory Counsel conducted a study of the potential effects on organisms providing a range of ecosystem services like pollination and natural pest control which are critical to sustainable agriculture. The resulting report found, "there is an increasing body of evidence that the widespread prophylactic use of neonicotinoids has severe negative effects on non-target organisms that provide ecosystem services including pollination and natural pest control."


In March of 2013 the American Bird Conservancy published a commentary on 200 studies on neonicotinoids calling for a ban on use as seed treatment because of their toxicity to birds, aquatic invertebrates and other wildlife. Published in the July 2014 issue of Nature was a study based on an observed correlation between declines in some bird populations and the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which demonstrated that the level of neonicotinoids detected in environmental samples correlated strongly with the decline in populations of insect-eating birds.

As of April 2015 Lowes stores have pledged to stop selling neonicotinoids saying they will phase out its neonic shelf products and plants by the spring of 2019, as suitable alternatives become available. BJ's Wholesale Club, a warehouse retailer said it was asking all of its vendors to provide plants free of neonics by the end of 2014 or to label such products. Home Depot, the largest U.S. home improvement chain, also asked its suppliers to start labeling any plants treated with neonics and that it was running tests in several states to see if suppliers can eliminate neonics in their plant production without hurting plant health.

Insecticides, like neonics and others used to treat turf for grubs, are applied as preventative measures and not "curative". That's hard for most people to understand... when there is grub damage in the fall homeowners feel obligated to treat for them in the spring. Applications of any of these insecticides in the spring are made to treat the NEXT generation of grubs. Here's what that means for us-- Our turf is grown and harvested so quickly that any treatment we would apply would not be curative for the turf you're receiving. All of the varieties of turf we use are endophyte enhanced. Endophytes are fungi that infect turfgrass, however unlike the disease-causing fungi they do not harm the grass. Instead, endophytes make it either vexatious or poisonous to surface feeding insects. Endophytes also appear to improve the turf’s ability to tolerate the stress of summer.  Endophytic grasses have shown high resistance to insects including billbugs, cinch bugs, sod webworms and fall armyworms. Turpin Farms and The Sunflower Farm are leading the way in educating landscapers, developers and homeowners alike on the importance of and how to plant for pollinators. Visit The Sunflower Farms website for more information on Pollinator Specific Landscaping. 


If you would like to treat your new sod apply your grub control in late May through June for the next generation of grubs.