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Research confirms new baiting regime is effective for mouse management in agriculture

Study confirms new bait regime effective for mouse management

CSIRO mouse researchers Steve and Nikki process a trapped mouse in the field. Credit: Sharyn Watt

New research led by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has shown that mouse populations can be significantly reduced by doubling the amount of zinc phosphide (ZnP) in grain bait used for large-scale farming.

The results of a field study, published in Research in the wildconfirm those of previous laboratory studies demonstrating a lower susceptibility of mice to ZnP than previously reported.

The studies were conducted in response to concerns from farmers who suspected that mouse bait was not as effective as needed to control mice in large-scale farming, especially when mice numbers were high.

With investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), CSIRO researchers embarked on a series of studies to reassess the susceptibility of mice to ZnP in the lab and the effectiveness of a new bait formulation in the field.

Study confirms new bait regime effective for mouse management

CSIRO mouse researcher Steve Henry. Credit: Sharyn Watt

The Research in the wild paper is the third in a series examining the responses of mice to ZnP bait. The first two publications are the first efficacy studies conducted in Australia since ZnP was registered for agricultural use.

CSIRO investigator Mr. Steve Henry said the first study published in Science of Pest Control found that baits consisting of grains coated with 25 g ZnP/kg grain did not always provide a lethal dose to mice, and mice that did not die from a first feeding of this bait became bait averse.

“We followed up a second study, now published in Integrative Zoology, which reassessed the susceptibility of mice to ZnP. The results showed that mice were significantly less sensitive to ZnP than previously reported,” said Mr. Henry.

“These results emphasized the importance of any bait pellet requiring a lethal dose, as there is no guarantee that mice will find and consume more than one bait pellet, and consumption of a sublethal dose leads to aversion.

“The latest study conducted near Parkes, NSW, took the findings of our lab testing to the field and confirmed that 50g ZnP/kg grain bait is required to consistently reduce mouse populations.

“The findings confirmed that the 50 g ZnP/kg grain bait could reduce more than 80 percent of mouse populations more than 90 percent of the time,” he said.

GRDC Pests Manager Dr. Leigh Nelson said the three studies provide solid evidence for the superior efficacy of the 50g ZnP/kg grain bait, which will give growers a more effective tool to manage mice and protect their crops.

“Using 50g ZnP/kg grain bait should reduce the need for repeated bait, which is costly. Any savings in profits from mouse damage would be welcomed by farmers,” said Dr. Nelson.

“I would still encourage farmers to implement a range of best practice management tactics to protect crops from mice,” she said.

During the peak of the mouse infestation in 2021, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority granted an emergency permit to increase the concentration of ZnP from 25g ZnP/kg to 50g ZnP/kg of cereal bait products based on CSIRO laboratory research.

The efficacy study provided consistent, scientifically rigorous results and followed the principles defined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines and was approved by the CSIRO’s Wildlife, Livestock and Laboratory Animal Ethics Committee.


Increase research prompts to recommended doses for mouse bait


More information:
Wendy A. Ruscoe et al, Improved house mouse control in the field with a higher dose of zinc phosphide bait, Research in the wild (2022). DOI: 10.1071/WR22009

Steve Henry et al, Effects of background food on alternative grain intake and zinc phosphide efficacy in wild house mice, Science of Pest Control (2021). DOI: 10.1002/ps.6720

Lyn A. HINDS et al, Acute oral toxicity of zinc phosphide: a review for wild house mice (Mus musculus), Integrative Zoology (2022). DOI: 10.1111/1749-4877.12666

Quote: Study Confirms Novel Baiting Regime Is Effective for Mouse Management in Agriculture (2022, Aug. 2), retrieved Aug. 2, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-baiting-regime-effective-mouse-agriculture. html

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