, Volume 109, Issue 6, pp 1715-1718
Date: 26 May 2011

Do secretions from the uropygial gland of birds attract biting midges and black flies?

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Abstract

Bird susceptibility to attacks by blood-sucking flying insects could be influenced by urogypial gland secretions. To determine the effect of these secretions on biting midges and black flies, we set up a series of tests. First, we placed uropygial gland secretions from blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus broods inside empty nest boxes while empty nest boxes without gland secretions were treated as controls. Blue tit broods, from which we had obtained uropygial secretions, were affected by biting midges and black flies. However, these insects were absent in nest boxes both with and without secretions from nestlings’ uropygial glands. We subsequently tested for the effects of uropygial gland secretions from feral pigeons Columba livia monitoring the number of biting midges captured using miniature CDC traps. There was no significant difference in the number of biting midges captured. Overall, our results did not support a potential role of avian uropygial gland secretions in attracting biting midges and black flies.