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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: A comparison of the speed and effectiveness of four fumigants for detaching avian lice from pigeon Columba livia feathers

Published source details

Visnak R.M. & Dumbacher J.P. (1999) Comparison of Four Fumigants for Removing Avian Lice (Comparación de Cuatro Fumigantes para Remover Mallofaga en Aves). Journal of Field Ornithology, 70, 42-48


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Remove ectoparasites from feathers to increase survival or reproductive success Bird Conservation

A replicated ex situ study in Hawaii (Visnak & Dumbacher 1999) tested four different fumigants (chloroform, di-ethyl ether, ethyl acetate and carbon dioxide, CO2) to assess the efficiency and speed with which they immobilised and detached slender pigeon lice Columbicola columbae from the feathers of feral pigeons Columba livia. CO2 was fastest in immobilising lice (average of 61 s for three trials of ten lice), followed by chloroform (122 s), ethyl acetate (198 s) and ether (201 s). CO2 was also fastest at detaching lice from feathers (average of 181 s for 30 lice) followed by chloroform (192 s), ethyl acetate (293 s) and ether (307 s). However, CO2 only detached 22% of lice, compared to 33% for ethyl acetate, 56% for ether and 76% for chloroform. In addition, CO (unlike the other chemicals) did not kill the lice, which quickly recovered when given fresh air.