New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1999) 23(2): 167- 173

Invertebrates feeding on baits used for vertebrate pest control in New Zealand

Research Article
E. B. Spurr  
K. W. Drew  
  1. Landcare Research, P.O. Box 69, Lincoln, New Zealand

This study was initiated in response to concerns that vertebrate pest control operations in New Zealand may be having deleterious impacts on invertebrate populations and, secondarily, on insectivorous non-target vertebrate populations. Invertebrates feeding on non-toxic baits of the types used for vertebrate pest control were collected and identified. The bait types were diced carrots and three types of cereal-based baits (No.7, RS5, and AgTech). The study was conducted in two rata/kamahi dominated forests (Bell Hill Scenic Reserve and Kopara Forest, West Coast), in July and September 1996. The most common species found on baits was the ant Huberia brouni (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Other common taxa were Orthoptera (at least eight species of weta including Zealandosandrus aff. gracilis, Gymnoplectron sp., and Pleioplectron sp.). Coleoptera (at least nine species of beetles including Saphobius nitidulus, Nestrius sp., and Phrynixus sp.), Dermaptera (at least one species of the earwig Parisolabis sp.), Opiliones (at least three species of harvestmen), and Acarina (at least three species of mites). The ants and weta were found predominately on cereal-based baits, and the beetles, earwigs, harvestmen, and mites predominantly on carrot baits. More invertebrates were found on carrot and RS5 cereal-based baits than on the other two bait types, and more on baits at night than during the day. Fewer invertebrates were found on cinnamon-flavoured baits (used for 1080-poisoning of possums) than on plain baits (used for brodifacoum-poisoning of rodents). The number of species and number of individual invertebrates found on baits were a small proportion of the number likely to be present in the forest litter. We predict that vertebrate pest control operations are unlikely to have any long term deleterious impacts on invertebrate populations. This prediction should be tested by monitoring populations of invertebrate species, found to ear baits, during vertebrate pest control operations.