New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2007) 31(1): 104- 110

Bait consumption and residual concentrations of diphacinone in the Wellington tree weta (Hemideina crassidens) (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae)

Short Communication
Penny Fisher 1,2,*
Eric B. Spurr 1
Shaun C. Ogilvie 2
Charles T. Eason 2
  1. PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
  2. Bio-Protection and Ecology Division, Lincoln University, PO Box 84, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

To investigate the potential for mortality or sublethal effects in the tree weta (Hemideina crassidens) as the result of exposure to baits used for rodent control, and the potential secondary hazard to non-target species, captive weta were offered Ditrac® wax block bait containing the anticoagulant diphacinone. Bait consumption was recorded daily for the first week and then weekly. Weta were sampled in groups of four following 1, 4, 8, 6, 3, and 64 days of exposure to bait and analysed to determine the concentration of diphacinone residues in their bodies. Any changes in feeding behaviour, survival, and bodyweight were recorded. Weta found Ditrac wax block baits palatable even in the presence of natural plant food, showing steady consumption of bait over time. No mortality or weight loss was attributable to the intake of Ditrac bait. All weta that ate bait had detectable diphacinone in their bodies, but did not accumulate diphacinone, i.e. whole-body concentrations did not increase with the amount of diphacinone bait eaten over time. Field use of diphacinone bait is likely to present a low risk of mortality to weta, but the risk posed by secondary diphacinone exposure to non-target species that eat weta requires further investigation.