Birds and Dutch elm disease control

Arborist's News


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Brief, factual review of information on effect of DDT and other insecticides on birds. One program for control of elm disease caused 22% decrease in number of adult birds and 56% mortality of nestlings. Quail fed 3 oz. of DDT per ton of food had 16% reduction in young hatched and 500% increase in defective chicks. Quail fed same dosage during winter and breeding seasons had 30% decrease in fertile eggs and 800% increase in defective chicks. More than 90% of their chicks died in first 6 weeks although fed no insecticide. Almost equally bad results came from feeding Pheasants diets with about 1 oz. DDT per ton. Other common insecticides (chlorinated hydrocarbons) also caused lowered chick survival and higher percentages of crippled chicks. From field data we know that 2 lbs. DDT/acre can affect birds and has even worse effects on cold-blooded animals. Efforts to control elm disease have left as much as 196 lbs. DDT/acre in top 3 inches of soil. Earthworms concentrate DDT in their tissues. Thus the treated areas can be traps for birds and other animals. What can be done? 1) In control of elm disease, use minimum effective amount of insecticide; mist blowers use less than sprayers. 2) Avoid applications during migration and nesting seasons. It has been reported that adequate control can be obtained with dormant sprays and that foliar applications may not be required. Tables of this paper show effects of DDT on reproduction of Quail, relative toxicity to quail of 8 insecticides, and amounts of 7 insecticides required to cause 40% or more decrease in Quail reproduction. These comparisons demonstrate that Aldrin, Endrin, and Dieldrin are 20 to 200 times as toxic as DDT and that Heptachlor and Chlordane are only slightly less toxic than Dieldrin. Methoxychlor and Strobane are less toxic to Quail than is DDT.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Birds and Dutch elm disease control
Series title Arborist's News
Volume 24
Issue 4
Year Published 1958
Language English
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 25-29
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Arborist's News
First page 25
Last page 29