Anti-Zika Pesticides Killing off Bees by the Millions

Airborne neurotoxin spraying in North Carolina, aimed at curbing the spread of the Zika virus, has killed millions of bees in the state's colonies.

One major and heretofore unseen side effect of the U.S.’s anti-Zika efforts has suddenly become alarmingly apparent, with bees being killed by airborne pesticides in South Carolina, their deaths numbering into the millions, as officials spray the region in hopes of killing Zika-carrying mosquitos.

“This is what’s left of Flowertown Bees,” one beekeeper says in a Facebook video as she surveys the mounds of dead bees at her apiary. Company co-owner Juanita Stanley told the Associated Press her farm looked “like it’s been nuked” and estimated 2.5 million bees were killed.

The airborne neurotoxin in question, Naled, is being used through use of a clause in South Carolina’s strict laws that protect bees and other pollinating insects in case of a “clear and public health crisis.”

Dennis Olle, director of conservation programs for the North American Butterfly Association, told the Guardian that a 2015 study by Florida International University showed Naled to be harmful to many different types of animal life.

“It kills everything,” he said. “There’s no question that it is highly, highly deleterious to butterflies and other arthropods, even mammals in high enough doses.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintain Naled is far safer than other chemicals, in that it breaks down quickly and does not pose a risk to humans.

“Everyone that I’ve spoken to has major concerns about the effect” of insecticides, Jennifer Holmes, vice president of the Florida State Beekeepers Association and the co-owner of a company with about 300 colonies north of West Palm Beach, told the Guardian.

“If there was a regulation that allowed some spraying that would kill half of your livestock overnight, how would recover your livelihood?”

Flowertown has set up a GoFundMe to help defray the costs of the deaths. If you’re interested, you can donate here.

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