Wildlife effects of DDT dust used for tick control on a Texas prairie

American Midland Naturalist




SUMMARY The effect of DDT dust on wildlife was studied at Camp Bullis, Bexar County, Texas, in the summer of 1947. Studies were made on a 206.6 acre plot that was treated with DDT for experimental control of the Lone Star tick (Amblyomrna americanum). A dust consisting of one part of DDT to nine parts of pyrophyllite was applied at an average rate of 4.4 pounds of DDT per acre. The limits of DDT concentration that affected wildlife cannot be stated exactly because of a heavy rain that fell near the end of the dusting, and because of irregularity in DDT deposition. Since absolute uniformity of dusting could not be expected in any large scale DDT application, the effects observed in these trials were probably fairly representative. However, continued dry weather would have permitted longer exposure to DDT, possibly with more severe effects than those found in this study. The vegetation of the experimental area was roughly 70 percent ungrazed tall-grass prairie and 30 percent trees and shrubs. Ground and bush feeding birds were severely affected. Cardinals, lark sparrows, field sparrows, Bewick's wrens, Carolina wrens, Kentucky warblers, yellow-breasted chats, blue grosbeaks, and painted buntings were nearly or entirely eliminated from the treated area. Birds affected, but less drastically reduced in numbers, were yellow-billed cuckoo, black and white warbler, yellow-throated vireo, and white-eyed vireo. Birds found dead in the DDT area were 9 cardinals, 2 painted buntings, 2 lark sparrows, 1 yellow-breasted chat, and 1 white-eyed vireo. Bird mortality had begun by the day after dusting and was largely over by the end of the fifth day. Census of deer in DDT and check areas before and after treatment showed no reduction in deer numbers and no diminution in use of the DDT area. No deer or fawns were found dead or affected. Box-trapping of raccoons in DDT and check areas before and after treatment showed no effects that could be attributed to DDT. Limited observations on armadillos, striped skunks, and rabbits gave no indication of pronounced damage to these forms. No mammals of any kind were found dead or affected in or near the DDT area. Four rough green snakes and one Texan spiny lizard were found dead in the DDT area. Mortality was probably high among insectivorous reptiles.

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Wildlife effects of DDT dust used for tick control on a Texas prairie
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American Midland Naturalist
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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
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American Midland Naturalist
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