Community-level and phenological responses of emerging aquatic insects exposed to 3 neonicotinoid insecticides: An in situ wetland limnocorral approach

Environ Toxicol Chem. 2018 Sep;37(9):2401-2412. doi: 10.1002/etc.4187. Epub 2018 Aug 10.


Seasonal aquatic insect emergence represents a critical subsidy link between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Early and late instar larvae developing in wetlands near neonicotinoid-treated cropland can be at risk of chronic insecticide exposure. In the present study, an in situ wetland limnocorral experiment compared emergent insect community responses to imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. Twenty-one limnocorrals were dosed weekly for 9 wk to target peak nominal doses of 0.0, 0.05, or 0.5 μg/L, followed by a 6-wk recovery period. Thirty-nine aquatic insect taxa were recorded but 11 taxa groups made up 97% of the community composition. Principal response curves (PRCs) indicated that during the dosing period, community composition among the treatments resembled the controls. During the 6-wk recovery period, significant deviance was observed in the high imidacloprid treatment with similar trends in the clothianidin treatment, suggesting that community effects from neonicotinoid exposure can be delayed. Non-biting midges (Diptera: Chironomidae) and damselflies (Odonata: Zygoptera) emerged 18 to 25 d earlier than controls in the imidacloprid and clothianidin neonicotinoid treatments, with no effects from thiamethoxam treatments. These data suggest that phenology and subtle community effects can occur at measured neonicotinoid concentrations of 0.045 (imidacloprid) and 0.038 μg/L (clothianidin) under chronic repeated exposure conditions. Synchronization and community dynamics are critical to aquatic insects and consumers; thus, neonicotinoids may have broad implications for wetland ecosystem function. Environ Toxicol Chem 2018;37:2401-2412. © 2018 SETAC.

Keywords: Chironomidae; Insecticide; Limnocorral; Neonicotinoid; Prairie wetland.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chironomidae / drug effects*
  • Chironomidae / growth & development
  • Equipment Design
  • Insecticides / analysis
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neonicotinoids / analysis
  • Neonicotinoids / toxicity*
  • Odonata / drug effects*
  • Odonata / growth & development
  • Species Specificity
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Wetlands*


  • Insecticides
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical