Without a doubt, I find the current concern for bees, doesn't necessarily extend to other insect and invertebrate species!
For this reason, I find that one question I am asked is how to kill insects like wasps and ants, without harming bees, and whether it's possible to purchase a bee friendly ant killer or wasp poison.
My response is this:
repel, rather than kill!
I don't advocate killing ants or wasps, for example, as they each play their roles in the eco-system, and I'm not sure it is possible to harm unwanted insects without also hurting beneficial or benign species, even if it happens to be the bird which eats the toxic dead ant or wasp, or feeds them to chicks, let alone inadvertantly killing other invertebrates, including those which dwell in soil.
Here are some deet-free repellents to deter unwanted insect and invertebrate visitors, rather than outright poisons.
For US visitors, I suggest a picardin based insect repellent, such as Sawyer Insect Repellent which can be purchased from Amazon.com, which you should find effective in keeping unwanted insects away, without the risk of harming beneficial species and indeed, without exposing people and pets to poison.
Another suitable product is Icognito.
This product can be used on the skin if you are concerned about or afraid of
bees, wasps, mosquitoes and other insects, but it might be possible to use it
in other areas (check the manufacturer instructions).
UK visitors can kind find
and products containing picardin/saltidin are also available for household use, such as Ecoguard Extreme DEET FREE Insect Repellent
I'm afraid I'm not aware of any such thing as a bee friendly wasp killer, and as stated, I don't advocate killing them anyway. They are beneficial in the garden for pollination and 'pest' control.
If you are concerned about wasps, you could also use one of the repellents described, but to deter wasps from building nests, I recommend a Waspinator, which can be purchased from Amazon.com OR Amazon.co.uk.
I'm not convinced there is any such thing as a bee friendly ant killer, and I would be suspicious of any claim.
Anyway, apart from the fact that ants, bees and wasps are from the insect order hymenoptera and therefore share some common characteristics, there are perfectly good repellents available (although perhaps there is a relatively low level of awareness, and some of these products are relatively new on the market).
I recently received the following query, which provides an excellent example of how easy it is to accidentally harm beneficial insects, whilst trying to target other species such as ants. This person was probably very concerned about the bees, however.
My response was that yes, it’s quite probable that the ant killer has killed the honey bees.
In this case, I suggest the bees were attracted to the sweet molasses, which unfortunately was toxic for them.
Bees are attracted to sweet things (this includes other bee species too, such as bumblebees), and honey bees have even been known to feed on sweet output from an M&Ms confectionery factory.
This happened in France, where beekeepers were surprised when their honey bees began producing 'honey' in shades of blue, green, purple and bright yellow.
Further investigation revealed that the bees had been feeding on M&Ms shells at a factory 2.5 miles away, the waste product of which had been stored outdoors. The situation was later rectified with the waste covered by the factory and stored indoors.
In the 'M&Ms case', the bees were not poisoned, but the sweet substance was found to be stored in the honey combs, meaning that the product produced was technically not honey, because it was derived from a non-floral source.
However, this case
does prove that bees will adapt and are attracted to sweet sources of
food. This also happens in nature, with
bees being attracted to honey dew aphid secretions. It illustrates that it is quite possible that bees will consume poison disguised as sweet food - just as they unfortunately may consume nectar poisoned by neonicotinoids.
My advice in this situation was to cover the ant nest to prevent bees feeding from it in future, and in future, to use a deet-free, picardin based repellent as suggested above.
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