Pesticides applied to plants can drive flies like bees crazy without sleep, say researchers who studied the effects of common pesticides on insect brains.
Just like us, many insects need adequate sleep to function properly. However, this may not be possible if they have been exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides, the most widely used form of insecticide in the world. This suggests research by scientists at the University of Bristol.
Two studies by scientists from the Bristol Schools of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience and Biological Sciences have shown that these insecticides affect the amount of sleep in bumblebees and fruit flies, which can help us understand why insect pollinators are disappearing from the wild.
Dr. Kiah Tasman, associate professor in the Faculty of Physiology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience and lead author of the studies, said, “The neonicotinoids we tested had a large impact on the amount of sleep in flies and bees. When an insect was exposed in an amount similar to that of one On the farm where the pesticide was used, he slept less and his daily behavior was no longer synchronized with the normal 24-hour cycle of day and night. “
The fruit fly study was published in Scientific Reports.
The researchers not only found that typical agricultural concentrations of neonicotinoids impaired the flies’ ability to remember, but also saw changes in the clock in the fly’s brain, which controls the 24-hour cycle of day and night.
“The ability to tell the time is important to knowing when to be awake looking for food, and it looked like these drugged insects couldn’t sleep. We know that sleep is good for insects is just as important as it is for people, for their health and shape, “said Dr. James Hodge, Associate Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Physiology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience and lead author on the study.
“Bees and flies have similar structures in their brains, and this suggests one reason why these drugs are so bad for bees that they prevent the bees from sleeping properly and then learn where food is around them” explained Dr. Sean Rands, lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences and co-author.
“Neonicotinoids are currently banned in the EU and we hope it will stay that way in the UK once we leave EU legislation.”