, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 363-377

Use of predator odors as repellents to reduce feeding damage by herbivores

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Abstract

This study investigated the influence of the major anal-gland compounds from the stoat (Mustela erminea) and fecal and urine compounds from the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in generating an avoidance response by montane voles (Microtus montanus), as well as suppressing feeding by montane and meadow (M. pennsylvanicus) voles on apple trees in orchards. In trap bioassays, a 1∶1 mixture of 2-propylthietane and 3-propyl-1,2-dithiolane significantly reduced vole captures. Other mixtures of stoat compounds reduced the number of new voles captured but not total individuals. 2,5-Dihydro-2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline, a component of fox feces, significantly reduced vole captures in one of two bioassays. Deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) did not show a negative response to any predator odor. In overwinter field bioassays, mixtures of 2-propylthietane and 3-propyl-1,2-dithiolane clearly reduced vole feeding on apple trees in four test blocks. 2,5-Dihydro-2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline and a synthetic fox urine mixture also significantly reduced vole attack in respective orchard blocks. Similarly, the intensity of vole feeding, in terms of amount of bark and vascular tissues removed from trees, was reduced by 60% to 97% in predator odor treatments compared with the control. Our study reports the first long-term (four to five months) use of synthetic semiochemicals as area repellents for crop protection from vole feeding damage.