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Field-scale dispersal of Aphodius dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) in response to avermectin treatments on pastured cattle

  • L. Webb (a1), D.J. Beaumont (a2), R.G. Nager (a3) and D.I. McCracken (a1)

Very few studies have examined, at the field scale, the potential for faecal residues in the dung of avermectin-treated cattle to affect dung-breeding insects. The current study examined populations of dung beetles (Scarabaeidae: Aphodius) using pitfall traps baited with dung from untreated cattle on 26 fields across eight farms in southwest Scotland. The fields were grazed either by untreated cattle or by cattle treated with an avermectin product, i.e. doramectin or ivermectin. During the two-year study, significantly more beetles were trapped in fields grazed by treated cattle (n=9377 beetles) than in fields where cattle remained untreated (n=2483 beetles). Additional trials showed that beetles preferentially colonised dung of untreated versus doramectin-treated cattle. This may explain the higher captures of beetles in traps baited with dung of untreated cattle, which were located in fields of treated cattle. Given that Aphodius beetles avoided dung of treated cattle in the current study, the potential harmful effects of avermectin residues in cattle dung could be reduced through livestock management practices that maximise the availability of dung from untreated livestock in areas where avermectins are being used.

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