Peacock - Andrew Cooper

Butterfly Conservation (BC) has today welcomed the decision by retailer B&Q to stop using a type of pesticide that is harmful to bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

From February next year B&Q will no longer use neonicotinoid pesticides in any of their flowering plant range.

Previous research has shown that neonicotinoids are harming bees and birds and may be contributing to the decline of butterflies.

B&Q, who sponsor BC’s annual Plant Pots for Pollinators campaign and the Garden Butterfly Survey, said they decided to stop the use of the controversial pesticide so they could help support wildlife and address the declining bee population.

Neonicotinoids were introduced in the 1990s as a replacement for older chemicals. They are a systematic insecticide, meaning that they are absorbed into every cell in a plant, making all parts poisonous to pests.

The chemicals remain in the environment and can be absorbed by the wildflowers growing in field margins, many of which provide a nectar source for butterflies and food-plants for their caterpillars.

Research previously found population trends of 15 butterfly species showed declines associated with neonicotinoid use, including Small Tortoiseshell, Small Skipper and Wall.

BC Chief Executive Julie Williams said: “We are delighted that B&Q is responding so positively to the growing scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are harmful to the environment. I hope that the Government can also respond similarly and extend and expand the neonicotinoid ban. Congratulations to B&Q for leading the way on this important environmental issue”.

Rachel Bradley, B&Q’s Sustainability manager said: “As part of our commitment to supporting Britain’s wildlife, in 2013 we reviewed the use of neonicotinoids in our garden chemical products.

“As a result of the findings and ahead of EU restrictions, we withdrew all pest control products containing the three substances most linked to the decline in bee population.

“We are now able to confirm that to further support pollinators we are encouraging everyone to do more for wildlife and to that end we will ensure that none of the flowering plants we sell will be grown using any pesticide containing any of the nine neonicotinoids.”

The announcement comes on the launch of a new report from B&Q ‘The Nature of Gardens’ supported by BC, that examines how gardens can be good for nature.

The report questioned more than 2,000 people and found that 67% of those asked were concerned about wildlife in Britain and 63% believed that there was a benefit to bringing wildlife closer to home.

The report cited evidence that the wellbeing benefits of connecting with nature are extensive, from better educational achievement, greater wellbeing and better long term mental and physical health.

Rachel Bradley added: “At B&Q we’ve been helping people to support wildlife in their gardens for years, through advice and products ranging from pollinator-friendly flowers to pond liners.

“Until we commissioned this report we didn’t realise quite how important our gardens could be for nature. And while we’ve always known that people love connecting with nature in their gardens, we’ve found overwhelming evidence that garden wildlife and greenery is good for us too.”

The full report can be downloaded from

Plant Pots For Pollinators encourages gardeners to provide simple nectar sources in their gardens or outdoor space to help butterflies, moths and other pollinating insects.

The Garden Butterfly Survey collects butterfly records year round and helps determine the importance of the UK’s gardens for butterflies and other wildlife.