The Science Seminar Series: Novemeber 15, 2012
Black Flies and the Endangered Whooping Crane: Is There a Link?
Dr. Elmer Gray
Department of Entomology
University of Georgia
Time: 4:00 -5:00pm
The Whooping Crane (Grus americana) is a critically endangered species with a population of approximately 530. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership was established in 1999 in an effort to develop an eastern migratory flock distinctly separate from the western flock that originates in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The eastern flock began nesting in Necedah, Wisconsin in 2005 and patterns of “nest desertion” were quickly observed. Nest desertions were precipitated by an environmental factor which was temperature related and affected numerous nesting pairs at about the same time. Black flies (Diptera:Simuliidae) were observed feeding in large numbers on the head and neck of numerous cranes. Black flies were also observed on the deserted nests and eggs. A study was conducted to determine if suppression of the local, bird feeding black fly population would result in improved first-time nesting success. Larvicide applications were conducted with Vectobac® 12AS. This larvicide consists of insecticidal proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis (Bti). Larvicide applications were conducted in 32 miles of river in 2011 and 53 miles of river in 2012. First time nesting success increased from 0% in 2005-2010 to 30% in 2011 and 41% in 2012.