Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 363–377 | Cite as

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

III. Montane and meadow voles (Microtus montanus andMicrotus pennsylvanicus)
  • Thomas P. Sullivan
  • Douglas R. Crump
  • Druscilla S. Sullivan


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.

Key words

Anal-gland compounds 2-propylthietane 3-propyl-1,2-dithiolane stoat vole red fox urine feces 2,5-dihydro-2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline crop protection feeding suppression orchard interspecific communication kairomones predator odors Microtus spp. Vulpes vulpes mustelids 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Brinck, C., andHoffmeyer, I. 1984. Marking urine and preputial gland secretion of male bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus L.): Chemical analyses and behavioral tests.J. Chem. Ecol. 10:1295–1307.Google Scholar
  2. Byers, R.E. 1984. Control and management of vertebrate pests in deciduous orchards of the eastern United States.Hortic. Rev., 6:253–285.Google Scholar
  3. Byers, R.E. 1985. Management and control, pp. 62–646,in R.H. Tamarin (ed.). Biology of New WorldMicrotus. Special Publication No. 8. American Society of Mammalogy.Google Scholar
  4. Crump, D.R. 1978. 2-Propylthietane, the major malodorous substance from the anal gland of the stoat.Tetrahedron Lett. 1978:5233–5234.Google Scholar
  5. Crump, D.R. 1980. Thietanes and ditholanes from the anal gland of the stoat (Mustela erminea).J. Chem. Ecol. 6:341–347.Google Scholar
  6. Crump, D.R. 1982. Synthesis of (2S)-2-propylthietane.Aust. J. Chem. 35:1945–1948.Google Scholar
  7. Crump, D.R. andMoors, P.J. 1985. Anal gland secretions of the stoat (Mustela erminea) and the ferret (Mustelaputorius forma furo): Some additional thietane components.J. Chem. Ecol. 11:1037–1043.Google Scholar
  8. Dubs, P., andPesaro, M. 1974. An efficient synthesis of 2-substituted 1,3-thiazoles.Synthesis 42:294–295.Google Scholar
  9. El-Hewehi, Z., andTaeger, E. 1958. Notiz uber Bunte-salze.J. Prak. Chem. 279:191–195.Google Scholar
  10. Fan, Z. 1983. The ecological importance of the anal gland secretion of yellow voles (Lagurus luteus), pp. 211–222,in D. Müller-Schwarze and R.M. Silverstein (eds.). Chemical Signals in Vertebrates III. Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Gorman, M.L. 1984. The response of prey to stoat (Mustela erminea) scent.J. Zool.London 202:419–423.Google Scholar
  12. Green, J.E. 1978. Techniques for the control of small mammal damage to plants: A review. Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program. Project VE 7.1.1.Google Scholar
  13. Hansson, L. 1985. Damage by wildlife, especially small rodents, to North AmericanPinus contorta provenances introduced into Sweden.Can. J. For. Res. 15:1167–1171.Google Scholar
  14. Hansson, L. and Nilsson, B. (eds.). 1975. Biocontrol of Rodents. Ecological Bulletins No. 19. Swedish Natural Science Research Council, Stockholm. 306 pp.Google Scholar
  15. Hromatka, P., andHaberl, R. 1954. α-Ketomercaptans III. 2,3,5,6-tetramethyl-2,5-endoxy-1,4-dithiane.Monatsh 85:830–839.Google Scholar
  16. Melchiors, M.A., andLeslie, C.A. 1984. Effectiveness of predator fecal odors as black-tailed deer repellents.J. Wildl. Manage. 49:358–362.Google Scholar
  17. Müller-Schwarze, D. 1972. Responses of young black-tailed deer to predator odors.J. Mammal. 53:393–394.Google Scholar
  18. Müller-Schwarze, D. 1983. Experimental modulation of behavior of free-ranging mammals by semiochemicals, pp. 235–244,in D. Müller-Schwarze and R.M. Silverstein (eds.). Chemical Signals in Vertebrates III. Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  19. Müller-Schwarze, D., andHeckman, S. 1980. The social role of scent marking in beaver (Castor canadensis).J. Chem. Ecol. 6:81–95.Google Scholar
  20. Müller-Schwarze, D., Heckman, S., andStagge, B. 1983. Behavior of free-ranging beaver (Castor canadensis) at scent marks.Acta Zool. Fenn. 174:111–113.Google Scholar
  21. Müssinan, C.J., Wilson, R.A., Katz, I., Hruza, A., andVock, M.H. 1977. Phenolic, sulfur, and nitrogen compounds, pp. 133–145,in Food Flavours, Symposium Series No. 26. American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  22. Schildknecht, V.H., andBirkner, C. 1983. Analyse der Analbeutelsekrete Mitteleuropaischer Musteliden.Chem.-Ztg. 107:267–270.Google Scholar
  23. Shumake, S.A. 1977. The search for applications of chemical signals in wildlife management, pp. 357–376,in D. Müller-Schwarze and M. Mozell (eds.). Chemical Signals in Vertebrates. Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Stoddart, D.M. 1976. Effect of the odor of weasels (Mustelanivalis L.) on trapped samples of their prey.Oecologia 22:439–441.Google Scholar
  25. Stoddart, D.M. 1980. Some responses of a free living community of rodents to the odors of predators, pp. 1–10,in D. Müller-Schwarze and R.M. Silverstein (eds.). Chemical Signals: Vertebrates and Aquatic Invertebrates. Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Stoddart, D.M. 1983. Odor as a component of trap entry behavior in small rodents, pp. 223–233,in D. Müller-Schwarze and R.M. Silverstein (eds.). Chemical Signals in Vertebrates III. Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Sullivan, T.P. 1986. Influence of wolverine (Gulo gulo) odor on feeding behavior of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus).J. Mammal. 67:385–388.Google Scholar
  28. Sullivan, T.P., andCrump, D.R. 1984. Influence of mustelid scent-gland compounds on suppression of feeding by snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus).J. Chem. Ecol. 10:1809–1821.Google Scholar
  29. Sullivan, T.P., Nordstrom, L.O., andSullivan, D.S. 1985a. Use of predator odors as repellents to reduce feeding damage by herbivores. I. Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus).J. Chem. Ecol. 11:903–920.Google Scholar
  30. Sullivan, T.P., Nordstrom, L.O., andSullivan, D.S. 1985b. The use of predator odors as repellents to reduce feeding damage by herbivores. II. Black-tailed deer (Odocoileushemionus columbianus).J. Chem. Ecol. 11:921–935.Google Scholar
  31. Sullivan, T.P., andCrump, D.R. 1986a. Feeding responses of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) to volatile constituents of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) urine.J. Chem. Ecol. 12:729–739.Google Scholar
  32. Sullivan, T.P., andCrump, D.R. 1986b. Avoidance response of pocket gophers (Thomomys talpoides) to mustelid anal gland compounds, pp. 519–531,in D. Duvall, D. Müller-Schwarze, and R.M. Silverstein (eds.). Chemical Signals in Vertebrates IV. Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  33. Van Den Berk, J., andMüller-Schwarze, D. 1984. Responses of wildmuskrats (Ondatrazibethicus L.) to scented traps.J. Chem. Ecol. 10:1411–1415.Google Scholar
  34. Vernet-Maury, E. 1980. Trimethyl-thiazoline in fox feces: A natural alarming substance for the rat, p. 407,in H. van der Starre (ed.). Proceedings of the VII International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste. IRL Press, London.Google Scholar
  35. Vernet-Maury, E., Polak, E.H., andDemael, A. 1984. Structure-activity relationship of stress-inducing odorants in the rat.J. Chem. Ecol. 10:1007–1018.Google Scholar
  36. Von Braun, J., Teuffert, W., andWeissback, K. 1929. Uber den Zerfall Quartarer Ammoniumund Sulfonium Hydroxide, IV.Justus Liebigs Ann. Chem. 472:121–142.Google Scholar
  37. Whitten, W.K., Wilson, M.C., Wilson, S.R., Jorgenson, J.W., Novotny, M., andCarmack, M. 1980. Induction of marking behavior in wild red foxes (Vulpesvulpes L.) by synthetic urinary constituents.J. Chem. Ecol. 6:49–55.Google Scholar
  38. Wilson, S.R., Carmack, M., Novotny, M., Jorgenson, J.W., andWhitten, W.K. 1978. Isopentenyl methyl sulflde. A new terpenoid in the scent mark of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes).J. Org. Chem. 43:4675–4676.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas P. Sullivan
    • 1
  • Douglas R. Crump
    • 2
  • Druscilla S. Sullivan
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Mammal Research InstituteCanada
  2. 2.Chemistry Division Department of Scientific and Industrial ResearchPetone

Personalised recommendations