Imidacloprid movement in soils and impacts on soil microarthropods in southern Appalachian eastern hemlock stands
Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide effective in controlling the exotic pest Adelges tsugae (hemlock woolly adelgid) in eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees. Concerns over imidacloprid impacts on nontarget species have limited its application in southern Appalachian ecosystems. We quantified the movement and adsorption of imidacloprid in forest soils after soil injection in two sites at Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in western North Carolina. Soils differed in profile depth, total carbon and nitrogen content, and effective cation exchange capacity. We injected imidacloprid 5 cm into mineral soil, 1.5 m from infested trees, using a Kioritz soil injector. We tracked the horizontal and vertical movement of imidacloprid by collecting soil solution and soil samples at 1 m, 2 m, and at the drip line from each tree periodically for 1 yr. Soil solution was collected 20 cm below the surface and just above the saprolite, and acetonitrile-extractable imidacloprid was determined through the profile. Soil solution and extractable imidacloprid concentrations were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. Soil solution and extractable imidacloprid concentrations were greater in the site with greater soil organic matter. Imidacloprid moved vertically and horizontally in both sites; concentrations generally declined downward in the soil profile, but preferential flow paths allowed rapid vertical movement. Horizontal movement was limited, and imidacloprid did not move to the tree drip line. We found a negative relationship between adsorbed imidacloprid concentrations and soil microarthropod populations largely in the low-organic-matter site; however, population counts were similar to other studies at Coweeta.