The sublethal effects of pesticides on beneficial arthropods

Annu Rev Entomol. 2007:52:81-106. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.52.110405.091440.


Traditionally, measurement of the acute toxicity of pesticides to beneficial arthropods has relied largely on the determination of an acute median lethal dose or concentration. However, the estimated lethal dose during acute toxicity tests may only be a partial measure of the deleterious effects. In addition to direct mortality induced by pesticides, their sublethal effects on arthropod physiology and behavior must be considered for a complete analysis of their impact. An increasing number of studies and methods related to the identification and characterization of these effects have been published in the past 15 years. Review of sublethal effects reported in published literature, taking into account recent data, has revealed new insights into the sublethal effects of pesticides including effects on learning performance, behavior, and neurophysiology. We characterize the different types of sublethal effects on beneficial arthropods, focusing mainly on honey bees and natural enemies, and we describe the methods used in these studies. Finally, we discuss the potential for developing experimental approaches that take into account these sublethal effects in integrated pest management and the possibility of integrating their evaluation in pesticide registration procedures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropods / drug effects*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Ecosystem
  • Fertility / drug effects
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Insect Control
  • Learning / drug effects
  • Life Cycle Stages / drug effects
  • Locomotion / drug effects
  • Longevity / drug effects
  • Nervous System / drug effects
  • Orientation / drug effects
  • Pesticides / pharmacology*
  • Pollen
  • Sex Ratio


  • Pesticides