Imidacloprid — a neonicotinoid pesticide that the US Environmental Protection Agency says can be harmful to bees — is a threat to the survival of bats, a research team said.
The team, headed by National Taiwan Normal University professor of life sciences Wu Chung-hsin (吳忠信) found that bats feeding on imidacloprid-tainted insects were unable to fly along learned paths and often got lost while hunting.
With Formosan leafnosed bats as their experimental subject, the team found that animals treated with a low dose of imidacloprid developed neural apopotosis — a process of programmed cell death — in the brain, Wu said.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
“The sonogram of ultrasounds emitted by such bats becomes incomplete,” Wu said on Wednesday, discussing research published in April last year in Neuroreport, a peer-reviewed journal of neuroscience.
Wu said his team monitored sonograms with a customized flight tracking device and filmed light trails from LEDs attached to the bats.
The data indicated that after long-term exposure to imidacloprid, their flight patterns differed from paths they had learned.
“What were regular flight paths become disoriented,” Wu said, adding that “some even lost their ability to catch insects.”
The team found that the toxicity of imidacloprid and high doses of the heavy metal manganese accumulated in the bodies of bats if they fed on pesticide-tainted insects.
“When toxic substances accumulate to a certain level, they damage the bats’ neurons and destroy their echolocation system,” said Wu, whose team has researched the echolocation ability of bats in Taiwan for more than 20 years.
Wu said that the team has recorded a decline in bat populations across Taiwan in recent years, speculating that the phenomenon could be the result of various environmental pollutants.
Bats serve as a “bio-index,” allowing people to determine which toxic substances are poisoning the environment, Wu said, adding that he hoped the research would alert people to the dangers of pollution.
He said that people should reduce the use of pesticides, curb pollution and learn to live more harmoniously with nature.
Imidacloprid is a broad-spectrum insecticide that works by interfering with the nerve impulses of insects, killing them. It is used to control pests on a large number of agricultural crops.
In recent years there have been reports that suggest neonicotinoid pesticides, including imidacloprid, are the cause of bees dying, hives collapsing and plummeting bee populations worldwide.
RISK FACTORS: ‘We hope people can cooperate and endure it ... it is possibly the very important last mile,’ Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations are to remain the same next month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The center reported 42,112 new local COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths, saying that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped to a new low this month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that the center is keeping COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations the same due to the local virus situation, and an increase in the number of imported cases of the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of SARS-CoV-2, among other risk factors. Easing
TRAVEL CONFERENCE: Representatives from the two countries exchanged views on how to increase tourist numbers, with one identifying individual travel as a trend Taiwan and South Korea aim to increase the number of tourists traveling between the two countries to 3 million, government and tourism industry representatives said at a conference in Hsinchu City yesterday. The annual event was attended by Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯); Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰); Taiwan Visitors Association chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭); South Korean Representative to Taiwan Chung Byung-won; Yoon Ji-sook, an official at the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; and Korea Association of Travel Agents chairman Oh Chang-hee. Global tourism is expected to soon rebound to between 55 and
DAMAGE CONTROL: The KMT in a statement called the Taiwan Strait ‘international waters,’ after Alexander Huang said China had the right to claim it as internal waters Lawmakers and experts yesterday accused the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) envoy to the US Alexander Huang (黃介正) of acting as China’s stooge, after he said that Beijing has the right to claim waters beyond its maritime territory as its exclusive economic zone and that the US has no legal basis to assert that the Taiwan Strait is an “international waterway.” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said in an online post that most of the world considers the Strait an international waterway, adding that this is important for safeguarding Taiwan. “We have seen US warships transiting through the Taiwan Strait.
The Taichung District Court yesterday sentenced to nine years in prison an unlicensed judo coach who caused the death of a seven-year-old student after slamming him onto the ground more than a dozen times. In its decision against the coach, a man surnamed Ho (何), the court cited his lack of remorse for using excessive force against an inadequately trained child and his failure to reconcile with the parents for his role in their son’s death. Speaking on behalf of the boy’s mother, Taichung City Councilor Jacky Chen (陳清龍) said the family would appeal to a higher court. Prosecutors said that Ho on