Optimization of QuEChERS Method for Simultaneous Determination of Neonicotinoid Residues in Pollinator Forage

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Hall, M.J.


Molecules (2020)


insecticides, method development, monitoring, neonicotinoid, plant tissue, pollen LC-MS/MS


Consistent with the large-scale use of pesticide seed treatments in U.S. field crop production, there has been an increased use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed over the past decade. Neonicotinoids can move downwind to adjacent off-field pollinator habitats in dust from planting and/or move downslope to habitats in surface water. The extent of potential neonicotinoid exposure to pollinators from neonicotinoid movement into these adjacent pollinator habitats is unclear. Pollen and leaf tissue extractions were completed using a quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe (QuEChERS) extraction procedure. Samples were subjected to a clean-up step using dispersive solid-phase extraction (dSPE) techniques prior to analysis. The compounds in the extracts were separated on a reversed-phase column with gradient elution and confirmed with tandem mass spectrometry. The extraction method showed acceptable recoveries of analytes ranging from 78.4 to 93.6% and 89.4 to 101% for leaf tissue and pollen, respectively. The method’s detection limits ranged from 0.04 to 0.3 ng/g in milkweed leaf tissue and 0.04 to 1.0 ng/g in pollen. The method is currently being employed in ongoing studies surveying pollen from a diversity of forbs and milkweed leaves obtained from habitat patches established within fields with a history of using neonicotinoid-treated seeds.