Alternatives to Neonicotinoid Insecticides

From emerging urban gardens to expansive generational farms, NYSIPM has a proud tradition of supporting New York’s diverse grower community through research, outreach, and extension. Our commitment to ensuring that our agricultural rights-holders and partners have comprehensive resources and strategies to control pests while minimizing risks is a cornerstone of our mission.

Frequently Asked Questions

Commonly referred to as “neonics,” neonicotinoids are one of the most used insecticides worldwide for controlling insect pests in fruit, vegetable and field crops. Neonics are chemically similar to nicotine and work by binding to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the central nervous system of insects, causing overstimulation of their nerve cells. They are highly water-soluble, necessitating only small amounts, which dissolve when introduced to water and systemically penetrate the roots of developing plants.

Common neonicotinoids used in pesticide products

  • Acetamiprid
  • Clothianidin
  • Dinotefuran
  • Imidacloprid
  • Nitenpyram
  • Thiacloprid
  • Thiamethoxam

New York’s farmers and growers are incredible stewards of their land and have proactively adopted integrated pest management practices that solve pest problems while minimizing risks to themselves and the environment.  While neonicotinoids have been a longtime staple in sound integrated pest management plans, evolving research has indicated that their use may contribute to the dwindling of several federally listed endangered species and numbers of native and managed pollinators. As New York looks to safeguard the nearly $389 million of pollination services provided by bees and other beneficial insects annually, considering alternative and sustainable strategies for controlling pests traditionally treated with neonicotinoids has become increasingly important.

The New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University recognizes that farmers, growers and producers need trusted strategies and resources for managing pests. In partnership with Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NYSIPM has undertaken eight research projects which take into consideration a crop and pest-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention through monitoring, digital forecasting, biological control, habitat manipulation, novel and softer chemical alternatives and more. 

Research in Progress

Findings are preliminary and are not intended to replace current management plans or control methods. Additional research is being conducted to help inform long term recommendations and guidance.

Field Crops Research

person examining soil

Efficacy of Insecticide Treatment Alternatives to Neonicotinoids Against Seedcorn Maggot in Corn

Blue and yellow sticky cards with insects stuck on them clamped to a stake.

NYSIPM and Cornell's Entomology Dept. join forces to aid help New York field crop growers to avoid seedcorn maggot damage.

hand holding a germinated seed with seedcorn maggot infestation

Modeling when seedcorn maggots will emerge and what variables predict where they will be a problem.

blue sticky card with grid, covered with flies

Developing a novel lure for the seedcorn maggot that will allow for more effective monitoring to inform management decisions.

hardware cloth in a trench with bean and corn seeds and a measuring tape

Better understanding the role that cover crops play in mediating seedcorn maggot behavior.

yellow oval in a cup of dirt

Exploring novel seed coatings to provide effective control against seedcorn maggot that could be applied to both conventional and organic crops.

Vegetable Research

closeup of a cabbage plant from above

Treatments for mitigating cabbage maggot (Delia radicum) were evaluated in a commercial cabbage field.

a field of onions with markers

Experiments evaluated insecticides used as seed treatments to manage onion maggot (OM) (Delia antiqua) in onion crops.

rows of potato plants

An experiment evaluated insecticides used to control Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) (CPB).

a row of been seedlings

An experiment evaluated insecticides delivered as seed treatments to manage seedcorn maggot (SCM) (Delia platura) in snap beans.


Experiments evaluated treatments to manage seedcorn maggot (SCM) (Delia platura) in sweet corn and squash.

a yellow and black striped beetle

Innovative research designed to mitigate the challenges of managing striped cucumber beetles in organic vegetable production.