Scott McArt: The Risk of Pesticides to Pollinators

Scott McArt: The Risk of Pesticides to Pollinators

"The use of synthetic chemical pesticides is central to current agricultural practices worldwide. But what is the cost to wildlife via non-target exposures? This talk will summarize when there's risk to bees, when there isn't, and what types of research are most likely to influence farmers, regulatory agencies, and policy makers."

So says Scott McArt, an assistant professor in the Cornell University's Department of Entomology, who will speak on "Pesticide Risk to Pollinators: What We Know and What We Need to Know Better" at the Wednesday, May 4 virtual seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. 

The seminar begins at 4:10 p.m. The Zoom link:

McArt, who joined the Cornell faculty in 2017, focuses his research on pollinator health and ecology. His areas of expertise include disease ecology, ecotoxicology, community ecology, chemical ecology, and plant-pollinator interactions. He  maintains his lab research site at

"Research in our lab focuses on the impact of pesticides, pathogens, and habitat on honey bees and wild bees," he writes on his website. "We are particularly interested in scientific research that can inform management decisions by beekeepers, growers and the public. Current research projects include: 1) Understanding pesticide exposure and risk to bees in multiple land management contexts, 2) Combining empirical data with network modeling to understand pathogen transmission in complex plant-pollinator networks, and 3) Understanding how habitat enhancements (e.g., flowers at solar power sites) impact pollinator populations and the services they provide to agriculture."

McArt's duties at Cornell also include director of the Cornell Chemical Ecology Core Facility, and associate curator of the Cornell University Insect Collection.

He writes a monthly column, Notes from the Lab, in American Bee Journal; each month he summarizes scientific publications for a non-scientific audience. "The goal is to make the emerging pollinator health science more approachable and relevant to beekeepers," he says.

He is also a member of the New York State (NYS) Beekeeper Tech Team, which works directly with NYS beekeepers to improve honey bee health, reduce colony losses, and increase profitability of the state's beekeeping industry:

In addition, McArt coordinates such beekeeping workshops as "Introduction to Honey Bee Queen Rearing" and "Honey Bee Biology and Disease Management for Veterinarians" and engages with growers regarding pesticide risk to bees and creating pollinator-friendly habitat. His extension materials are onsite.  

When asked "What gets you out of bed in the morning?" during a new faculty interview, he responded "Most of the factors contributing to declines in bee health (pesticide exposure, lack of floral resources, disease, inadequate management practices) are preventable. With targeted research efforts and educated stakeholders, regulatory agencies and public, we can make a difference."

McArt holds a bachelor of arts degree in environmental and evolutionary biology (2001) from Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., and a master's degree in biological sciences (2006) from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He received his doctorate in entomology in 2012 from Cornell University. He served as a USDA-NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) postdoctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amhurst, in 2014, and then as a research scientist at Cornell from 2014 to 2017, before joining the Cornell faculty. 

Nematologist Shahid Siddique, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is coordinating the spring seminars. For Zoom technical issues, contact him at

(See complete list of spring seminars.)