Neonicotinoids: Insecticide Effects On Bacterial Communities Of Non-Target Pieris rapae Butterflies
AuthorSantamaria, Aldrin M.
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Neonicotinoids are a commonly used insecticide in agricultural and domestic settings as a form of pest management. While neonicotinoids are looked upon favorably for their specificity towards invertebrates, they also have been implicated in the declines of non-target insect species such as the European honey bee. Recent literature suggests that they may be involved in the decline of various butterfly populations as well, although research has been limited. To further contribute towards an understanding of the effects of neonicotinoids upon butterflies, we performed an experimental study examining the effects of one neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, on Pieris rapae caterpillar performance. Additionally, we extracted and analyzed the microbiota community from each caterpillar to ask if neonicotinoids could also disrupt or alter the bacterial community. Our results show that imidacloprid exposure does have an effect on Pieris rapae performance when applied as suggested; however, bacterial composition within the cabbage white gut does not appear to be affected. It is also interesting to note that the bacterial composition obtained differs considerably from a previous study examining the microbiota community of Pieris rapae, although different methods were used (Robinson et al. 2010). Thus, further directions for this research, in addition to neonicotinoid exposures to other Lepidoptera species, should also include further studies into the composition of the cabbage white bacterial community.