The effects of season on the toxicity of the prototypic organophosphorus insecticide parathion was evaluated using adult European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) housed in outdoor pens. Groups of birds received oral doses of parathion in the fall, winter, spring and summer. Median lethal dosage, and brain and plasma cholinesterase inhibition, were found to be quite similar among seasons. Parathion may have been more toxic during hot weather (winter vs. summer LD50 estimate: 160 vs. 118 mg/kg; p < 0.1). In view of previous reports in which ambient temperature extremes and harsh weather have enhanced organophosphorus insecticide toxicity to birds, it is concluded that circannual toxicity studies should include measures of sensitivity (acute oral exposure) and vulnerability (dietary exposure) to better predict responses of free-ranging birds.
Additional publication details
Toxicity of parathion to captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)-absence of seasonal effects