I'm looking to control cherry tree slug in an orchard and have found a Spinetoram based product to be effective. In terms of toxicity, there's limited information out there.

In particular, I'm interested in impact on bees (spraying on trees after flowering) as well as recommended distance from hives and residue in fruit.

For residue in fruit I've only come across this article so far, which says that there is an 'acceptable' level of residue after 10 days for tomatoes.

  • Welcome Simon! I see you've been around the network, and am glad you joined us. This is a good question. I don't use any pesticides, and avoid hurting animals whenever possible, so I appreciate your desire to protect the bees. To supplement what our resident experts have already told you, here's a Pest Management article from the University of California. It says about Spinetoram: "toxic to bees, do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging." I hope this is helpful. Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 22:37
  • Thank you for the warm welcome. The UC IPM rank it with a high IPM value. Any idea how that compares with Neem as mentioned by Stormy?
    – Simon
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 22:51
  • Simon look down farther, I've sorta given another 2cents worth about pesticide use. I've been a commercial pesticide applicator for 2 1/2 decades, shoot maybe more. Never use the stuff unless absolutely necessary and bees mean so very much to all of us. Please ask more if we haven't answered your questions clearly. This is tough to teach using the forum. It is tough to simply answer a question without bringing up to speed enough to understand the big picture as well as necessary background we think you might need.
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


Is this the first time you've noticed pear slug (cherry slug), the larvae of sawfly? How many trees do you have? This is a 'seasonal' thing where some years are worse than others. Great water pressure and/or the addition of a biological soap is really all that is necessary THIS YEAR. NEEM would be even more effective but this should be done by a professional AT NIGHT when bees and other beneficials aren't present. Any other pesticide is overkill. These larvae are only damaging for 2 weeks. I remember having them on my plum trees...no big deal once I got over these tiny slimy little slugs hanging from slime from the canopy. The best preventative is a dormant oil spray. Most of us never get to notice these little larvae because they are only around a short time. The adult sawfly overwinter in the soil in little cocoons, in late spring as adult sawflies emerge they lay eggs under the epidermis of the leaves the larvae hatch and the new adults fly away to eventually make their cocoons in the soil to survive the coming winter. There are only 2 weeks or a bit more they will be harming or skeletonizing the leaves of your tree. The timing is interesting to note as this is happening late summer, early fall as your tree is beginning to consider abscission, getting rid of the leaves for the winter. If you had an orchard there would be many more steps to take and those orchard dudes already know how to deal with this little larvae. However commercial application is usually at the dire end of the spectrum because time is money and money rules. Most commercial growers will be overdoing the pesticide thing and then WE eat the fruit. Just saying. Echnerwal is an orchard specialist. Waiting for his advice on this site!!

Using any pesticide stronger than Neem is not indicated. A professional would have high pressurized water with biological soap or Neem and do the best job of spraying. Just do not let them talk you into using anything stronger than Neem, the pressure of the water can't be so powerful it ruins the live tissue of the leaves. Do not use Neem during the daytime so the important insects like bees are in bed. Remember this only lasts a few weeks so preventative is far better than spraying anything after the fact. Best investment is dormant oil. Otherwise this little larvae is a cosmetic hindrance at best. Trying to control would mean SPRAYING very noxious pesticide and killing bees, spiders and other major beneficial insects that normally keep this kind of soft bodied sucking insect under control. When we try to control with a heavy or uninformed hand we always screw things up making a problem even worse.

  • 1
    Reread you question and you were saying distance from their hives? Sigh, the brutal fact everyone should know is if ONE bee takes back pesticide to their hive they can decimate the entire hive. Pesticides are really a joke. There are so many other better ways to do things. Prevention will save our bees. We lose our bees and in two months we all die. Worse than Yellowstone going off for sure, grins. Using anything stronger than Neem is like using a nuclear bomb to get two bad guys in New York City.
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 4:03
  • We have approximately 150 trees affected, to varying degrees over 10 years (on a non-commercial farm). We tried a few alternatives of high pressure water (minus the biological soap) and ash then last year tested a Spinetoram based product on a few trees - it worked well. Any books to recommend for managing the sawfly lifecycle? Also, when you say anything beyond Neem is overkill, what's the comparison with Spinetoram in terms of wider insect effect and fruit toxicity?
    – Simon
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 1:05
  • You've got 150 trees? Just how much damage have you seen? How many leaves were eaten? Skeletonized in relation to what they didn't skeletonize? Just roughly. I hate even using Neem sure smells and reacts on my skin like a nasty caustic chemical. Never spray at night. How did the ash gig work? Did the ash not do what you hoped to start looking at Spinetoram? What happened after the high pressure spray? Look, I've had fruit trees but commercial is another dimension. From what little I know you just have to endure for a few weeks, high pressure spray should work fine, my thinking. Hummm
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 6:50
  • The damage varies by year and tree. At a guess, this varies from 15% to 80% (for the cherry trees - all are old trees). Ash was okay; Not as effective as we would like and difficult to apply. Similar with high pressure water, not to mention the litres required. We were looking to get them 'under control', with a view to possibly spraying once every 3 years or so, but we also have hives (and like to avoid residues in our food).
    – Simon
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 22:46
  • I went out to read the MSDS sheets for Spinetoram/Spinosad. Have you read them? TOXIC TO BEES for sure. Unbelievable they even allow spraying from aircraft. No wonder our bees are on their way out and seriously, that mean us. Monsanto should be finding ways to have self pollination instead of putting HERBICIDE in the genome of corn and soy and other crops. HERBICIDE? How the hell does this help anything? The BT is better I guess. That is a product of Bacillus thuringiensis when eaten the insect doesn't feel like eating anymore and starves. Maybe it'll help with America's fatties.
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 19:36

I've no experience if any spinosins, none have been approved for use in the EU or the UK, but I did find this


which suggests (near the end, under Ecotoxicology) that bees will be affected, both by oral and contact routes. Its just technical data really and not dissimilar from your first link, but may be of some use. I note that honeybees are listed as suffering both acute and chronic effects even in the link you provided, and there's likely no way of avoiding its effects on bees, even if the hives are a mile away. If the trees are sprayed when the bees aren't working to avoid spraying them directly, it looks like subsequent contact with the flowers is likely to cause problems, though they may be chronic rather than acute, hard to say for sure from the small amount of information available.

  • Great clarification, Bamboo. I am so exhausted knowing about pesticides and WHY we are losing our bees. This is such a major THING. And we worry about Global Warming...only because we hear or read it constantly...that isn't true!! Our bees dying is akin to losing our air our fresh non toxic water yet only in passing are we reminded about danger to our bees. With no backup information, no education we'll all keep doing this genocide of ourselves! All relative of course. I am unable to bypass maintenance or private crews when 'spraying' I check for licensing, what chemicals and why??
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 23:32
  • And not once did I find a crew who played by the rules much less understood what it was they were spraying, had never read the label, not once, did not have basic protective gear and on and on...this is scary stuff. We have laws, regulations and maybe 2 pesticide cops per STATE. Homeowners, believe it or not are the biggest problem with pesticide, another topic. All these instances add up to millions and more. And we are worried about CO2? It could be hilarious if it weren't so sobering.
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 23:36

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