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Testing the use of a citronella-based repellent as an effective method to reduce the prevalence and abundance of biting flies in avian nests

AuthorsMartínez de la Puente, Josué ; Merino, Santiago ; Lobato, Elisa ; Rivero de Aguilar, Juan ; Cerro Gómez, Sara del ; Ruiz de Castañeda, Rafael
Issue Date2009
CitationParasitology Research, 104:1233-1236 (2009)
AbstractHere, we validate the use of a citronella (natural oil) based repellent to reduce the abundance of flying blood-sucking insects in avian nests. These insects are important parasites of birds affecting them as blood feeders and as vectors of a diversity of pathogens. When nestling were 10 days old, we assigned wild great tit Parus major nests to one of two treatments, control and fumigated nests. The abundance of biting midges and blackflies captured during 3 days following the treatment application were lower in fumigated nests with respect to control ones. By contrast, the abundance of blowfly pupae measured when nestlings left their nests was not affected by the treatment. Although many experimental studies modify the abundance of nest-dweller ectoparasites, to our knowledge, this is the first one describing an easy, safe, and effective method, reducing the total abundance of both biting midges and blackflies in wild avian nests. Our results could be used in future conservation projects and experimental studies on host–parasite evolution affecting the abundance of flying blood-feeder insects under natural conditions.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00436-009-1353-9
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