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Horned larks, Eremophila alpestris (L.), and McCown's longspurs, Calcarius mccownii (Lawrence), were collected at intervals from two winter wheat fields in Montana [USA] after aerial application of chlorpyrifos to control cutworms. Both bird species had a high (95-100%) incidence of Lepidoptera, mostly pale western cutworms, Agrotis orthogonia Morrison, in their stomachs at 3 days postspray. Incidence of cutworms and other insects in stomachs of birds from sprayed fields was lower at 9 and 16 days postspray than in control birds, presumably due to insecticide-caused reduction of insects. Effects of birds on population dynamics of insect pests in wheat are unknown, but birds do contribute to cutworm mortality. Predation is one of the limiting factors to cutworm increase and can supplement insecticidal control. Brain cholinesterase activity in horned larks collected from the sprayed fields at 3 and 9 days postspray was significantly lower than in unexposed larks, but at 16 days the difference was not significant. Although nontarget birds clearly were exposed to chlorpyrifos and manifested a sublethal physiological response, toxic effects were less severe than those resulting from endrin application for cutworm control in wheat. More study is needed of larger chlorpyrifos-treated fields under a variety of conditions to fully assess effects on nontarget life.
Additional Publication Details
Bird predation on cutworms (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in wheat fields and chlorpyrifos effects on brain cholinesterase activity