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Journal of Pest Science

Sublethal effects of kaolin and the biopesticides Prestop-Mix and BotaniGard on metabolic rate, water loss and longevity in bumble bees (Bombus terrestris)

Reet Karise, Riin Muljar, Guy Smagghe, Tanel Kaart, Aare Kuusik, Gerit Dreyersdorff, Ingrid H. Williams, Marika Mänd

Laboratory of Plant Protection and Improvement (Biopesticides Team), Center of Biotechnology of Sfax, Sfax University, P.O. Box 1177, 3018 Sfax, Tunisia.


Kaolin is an inert material with a broad range of applications, e.g. as an insecticide and as a filling substance in the formulation of biopesticides. Hence, bees that dispense biopesticides to the field in the context of entomovectoring are exposed to elevated risks because of side-effects of those products. Here, we investigated with use of bumble bee workers of Bombus terrestris L. the lethal and sublethal effects of (i) pure kaolin, (ii) the biofungicide Prestop-Mix containing the parasitic fungus Gliocladium catenulatum and kaolin and (iii) the bioinsecticide BotaniGard containing the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana and compared with wheat flour powder that we considered safe for bumble bees. As the most important result, treatment with kaolin increased the cuticular water loss and reduced the survival of treated bumble bees, while Prestop-Mix had no negative effect on longevity. BotaniGard caused mortality in the bumble bees because of the entomopathogenic spores it contained. In conclusion, our data indicated that substances used as ‘inert materials’ and in biocontrol agents which are used in IPM and organic farming systems may bring higher risks to bumble bees used in entomovector technology.

Keywords: Bombus terrestris, Kaolin, Inert material, Biocontrol agent, Metabolic rate, Water loss, Survival.

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