Pests and pollinators


December 5, 2013

The dual role of stinging insects.

In September, a 13-year-old boy was stung by fire ants, resulting in his death at a football game in Corpus Christi, Texas. The death was attributed to anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction in response to the ants’ venomous sting. Just a few days later, in Arizona, bees

attacked a woman and two horses. One horse died at the scene.

Terrible incidents like these remind pest management professionals (PMPs) about their role as protectors of public health. Stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to emergency rooms a year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. They’re also responsible for about 40 deaths annually.

Despite the fact stinging insects can be public health pests, it’s important to recognize some stinging insects, particularly bees, play a vital role in our environment and agricultural systems. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new mandatory label language for neonicotinoid insecticides with foliar application uses that will strengthen protection for bees.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) continues to work with EPA officials to ensure the agency completely understands how PMPs use these products to control nuisance, structural and public health pests in and around buildings. Currently, in cooperation with state regulatory officials, the NPMA is seeking additional clarification about the new label language. We hope to provide more details about how this will affect PMP uses soon.

We expect this is only the first phase in the development of label language that will afford protection to beneficial bees. The NPMA will continue to work with the EPA to ensure critical PMP uses are preserved. In addition to dialogue with the EPA, the NPMA Government Affairs and Technical Committees are investigating the issue and will be exploring it in-depth during the coming months. By working together on this important issue, we expect to identify common-sense answers that will help ensure pollinator health while providing professionals the flexibility to protect the public from pests. pmp

You can reach Dr. Fredericks, technical director for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), at


About the Author

Dr. Jim Fredericks, PHOTO: National Pest Management Association

You can reach Dr. Fredericks, BCE, executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), at

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