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Culicoides midge trap enhancement with animal odour baits in Scotland


*Dr Alison Blackwell, Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9RG, U.K. Tel.: +44 (0)131 6506266; fax: +44 (0)870 4583844; e-mail:


Abstract.  Examples of the commercial trap Mosquito Magnet® Pro™ (MMP emitting attractant 1-octen-3-ol in carbon dioxide 500 mL/min generated from propane fuel), were run 24 h/day on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, during June–August 2001 and evaluated for catching Culicoides biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). From 30 days trapping, the catch averaged 2626 ± 1358 Culicoides females/trap/day (mean ± SE, range 558 ± 139 to 6088 ± 3597, for five sets of six consecutive nights), predominantly the pest Culicoides impunctatus Goetghebuer (68% overall), plus C. vexans (Stæger) > C. delta Edwards > C. pulicaris (L.) > C. lupicaris Downs & Kettle > C. albicans (Winnertz) > other Culicoides spp.

Attempts were made to enhance the odour baiting system by adding hexane-extracts (2.1 mg/day) of hair samples from large host animals, resulting in the following effects on Culicoides collections: sheep − 53 %, red deer − 26 %, calf + 20%, pony + 40%, water buffalo + 262%, with greatest increases for C. impunctatus and C. pulicaris.

Serial concentrations of these animal extracts (10−1 − 10−3 × 2.2 g/mL) were assayed on parous female C. impunctatus response in a Y-tube olfactometer (air-flow 150 mL/min), and by electroantennogram (EAG) on Culicoides nubeculosus Meigen laboratory-reared parous females. Positive behavioural responses to host odours were dose-dependent: the water buffalo extract being most active (threshold 0.22 g/mL), similar to deer, whereas other host extracts were ≥ 10-fold less active. Correspondingly, the EAG threshold was lowest for water buffalo, 10-fold greater for deer, calf and pony, but not detected for sheep. If the active component(s) of these host extracts can be identified and synthesized, they might be employed to improve the capture of Culicoides midges for local control by removal trapping.