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Studies on the management of the swallow bug, Oeciacus vicarius Horvath (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) and survival off its avian host




Ewals-Strain, Brandon, author
Cranshaw, Whitney, advisor
Kondratieff, Boris, committee member
Doherty, Paul F., committee member

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The swallow bug, Oeciacus vicarius Horvath is a common ectoparasite primarily associated with cliff swallows, Petrochelidon pyrrhonota (Vieillot). When the mud nests of the cliff swallows are constructed on homes and businesses, swallow bugs often readily enter attics or livable space after the host birds migrate and can cause serious episodes where they may bite humans. To better manage problem situations with swallow bugs a series of studies were conducted to determine the survival of swallow bugs in the absence of their avian host and to evaluate potential methods to monitor and control swallow bugs that do enter buildings. Swallow nests were collected in 2014 and 2015 immediately after nest abandonment and the nest contents sampled periodically for arthropods. Highest numbers of swallow bugs were found in the first sample dates, immediately after collection, averaging 269 swallow bugs/nest in 2014 and 297 swallow bugs/nest in 2015. Numbers of swallow bugs recovered declined sharply in later samples, with reductions at six months of 97.4% of the adults and 96.7% of the nymphs in the 2014 study, and reductions of 81.9% of the adults and 73.7% of the nymphs died in the 2015 study. At 12 months following collection, numbers of adults and nymphs had declined 99% and 98.3% in the 2014 study and 91.7% and 96.1% in the 2015 study. Other notable arthropods recovered from nests included the dermestid Trogoderma simplex Jayne, immature salticid spiders, and the bird flea Ceratophyllus petrochelidoni Wagner. Four traps were evaluated for their ability to capture swallow bugs in an arena test with an introduced swallow bug: a sticky card trap with no attractant (CatchMaster 288i), a carbon dioxide based trap with a collection cup (Bedbug Beacon), a carbon dioxide and heat trap with a bed bug pheromone on a sticky card (Biocare First Response Bed Bug Monitor), and a bed bug pheromone attractant trap with a collecting cup (SenSci Volcano). None of the traps containing attractants showed evidence that they were able to attract swallow bugs. The CatchMaster 288i and BedBug Beacon traps did work well as a passive monitoring device but both the Biocare First Response Monitor and SenSci Volcano SC caught few swallow bugs either because of trap design that allowed the insects to readily escape or prevented their capture due to poor adhesive properties of the glue. Follow-up studies were conducted to evaluate potential attractants in bioassay choice tests, including heat, carbon dioxide, and odors associated with swallow bugs. None of these traps showed evidence of attraction to swallow bugs, suggesting that swallow bugs may use different cues to located hosts than do bed bugs. Efficacies of insecticides for control of swallow bugs were tested in laboratory trials. Treatments included Suspend Polyzone (deltamethrin), Talstar Professional (bifenthrin), Onslaught Fastcap (esfenvalerate, prallethrin, piperonyl butoxide), Temprid (imidacloprid, cyfluthrin), and Phantom (chlorfenapyr). All of the pyrethroid containing insecticides showed good ability to kill swallow bugs, typically killing 100 percent of the test insects within one week. Lower mortality was observed with chlorfenapyr.


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