Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

View from the pasture – pesticides and pollinators

Submitted by Cheryl Morris for Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

On Thursday, October 15, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will host the second presentation of their 2015-16 natural history series: “Naturally Special Places”. This event will be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte Ontario at 7:30 pm.

Guest speaker for the evening will be Dr. James Coupland, Director of FarmForest Research, a research and development company based out of Almonte that serves the agricultural community across Canada, North America, and around the world, including research work in developing countries with very challenging climates. The presentation is entitled “What’s Happening Down In the Pasture? Pesticides and Pollinators”. Dr. Coupland graduated from Almonte District High School before studying at Queens University. He completed his PhD in Zoology at University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Coupland worked for 10 years as an invasive species biologist with the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) based in southern France. FarmForest Research was established by Dr. Coupland in 1991 in Montpellier, France, and combines a broad technical and practical understanding of agriculture, biology, ecology, and entomology (the study of insects). The core area of the company’s expertise lies in solutions for invasive species of insects and as such, it is a leading authority on Integrated Pest Management including the use of biological control systems (biopesticides).

Many of our naturally special places are being degraded by pollutants, including pesticides. Our waterways and water pastures, especially, are increasingly threatened by runoff from towns and farms, with pesticides delivering a ‘knock-out blow’ in some of these areas. In Dr. Coupland’s words “Our Naturally Special Places are under threat and the inhabitants therein are especially under threat”. The talk will focus on the threats to pollinators living within these ‘special places’. Pollinators are components which are vital to maintaining the integrity of nature’s landscape for future generations. “Pollinators along with many other species worldwide are under threat for many reasons such as loss of habitat, changing weather patterns and environmental pollutants. In this talk, I will discuss the importance of pollinators to both the ecology of natural habitats and to crop production in Canada. The recent decline in native pollinators and the potential economic impact due to the reduction of both wild and domesticated bees has been the driving force for research into the causes of their decline”, states Dr. Coupland.

Our speaker will discuss what has been revealed thus far by this research and what else needs to be studied and implemented to reduce and reverse this alarming trend.

Please join MVFN for this informative and important presentation. Refreshments and discussion will follow the talk. There is a non-member fee of $5. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley at .

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Town of Mississippi Mills to consider lawn and garden pesticide regulation at next Planning & Economic Development Meeting

The Town of Mississippi Mills is set to consider a by-law to regulate the unecessary (cosmetic) use of lawn and garden pesticides. The issue is on the agenda at the next Planning & Economic Development Committee Meeting, Thursday, March 6, 2008. This meeting will start at 6 pm in Council Chambers at the Municipal Offices at 3131 Old Perth Road, RR2, Almonte, Ontario. The meeting is open to the public.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Board of Directors supports the municipal regulation of lawn and garden pesticides. The BOD recognizes that such by-laws make no attempt to restrict the use of chemicals for agricultural purposes, but rather are intended to reduce the unnecessary or ‘cosmetic’ use of pesticides on lawns and gardens. Health Canada itself, the federal body governing the registration of pesticides, recommends reduction in the use of pesticides on lawns and gardens and the use of alternative products to safeguard the health of humans, in particular children, who are especially sensitive to adverse effects from pesticides. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and other groups also recognize the benefit to the environment from the elimination of the unnecessary use of pesticides.

Pesticides even when used following directions closely can easily have unintended targets such as to beneficial insects and song birds. They may cause damage to biodiversity, reducing wildflowers and weeds which play an essential role in a healthy ecosystem i.e. as a source of nectar for pollinating insects, for monarch butterflies etc. Aquatic organisms may also be damaged when pesticide products in active form reach water courses and ponds.

If you are interested in hearing Town of Mississippi Mills Council discuss the municipal regulation of cosmetic use pesticides we encourage you to attend this meeting. Those in other jurisdictions who may seek support for such by-laws in the future may also be interested in the nature of discussions at this meeting.

As meetings of council are subject to change, please check for any last minute changes on the town’s website at or by calling the Town of Mississippi Mills at 613-256-2064.

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