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The DDT ban spurred the chemical industry to develop alternative insecticides, including a class known as neonicotinoids, or “neonics” for short. They were touted as being safer for birds and animals.
It wasn’t long, however, before neonics came under criticism for harming pollinators, including domesticated honeybees, butterflies and wild native bees. Neonics affect insects’ nervous systems, causing paralysis and death. In 2018 the European Union banned the use of three common neonics on field crops, although there are some exemptions.
A new report by naturalist and author Scott Weidensaul points to neonics as the most likely cause for declining numbers of farmland and grassland birds — including many found in New Jersey, such as bobolinks, savannah and field sparrows, many species of swallows and kingbirds.
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