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The effectiveness of Virkon® S disinfectant against the invasive chironomid Eretmoptera murphyi and implications for Antarctic biosecurity practices

Bartlett, Jesamine C.; Radcliffe, Richard James; Convey, Pete ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8497-9903; Hughes, Kevin A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2701-726X; Hayward, Scott A.L.. 2021 The effectiveness of Virkon® S disinfectant against the invasive chironomid Eretmoptera murphyi and implications for Antarctic biosecurity practices. Antarctic Science, 33 (1). 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954102020000413

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Abstract/Summary

The flightless midge Eretmoptera murphyi is thought to be continuing its invasion of Signy Island via the treads of personnel boots. Current boot-wash biosecurity protocols in the Antarctic region rely on microbial biocides, primarily Virkon® S. As pesticides have limited approval for use in the Antarctic Treaty area, we investigated the efficacy of Virkon® S in controlling the spread of E. murphyi using boot-wash simulations and maximum threshold exposures. We found that E. murphyi tolerates over 8 h of submergence in 1% Virkon® S. Higher concentrations increased effectiveness, but larvae still exhibited > 50% survival after 5 h in 10% Virkon® S. Salt and hot water treatments (without Virkon® S) were explored as possible alternatives. Salt water proved ineffective, with mortality only in first-instar larvae across multi-day exposures. Larvae experienced 100% mortality when exposed for 10 s to 50°C water, but they showed complete survival at 45°C. Given that current boot-wash protocols alone are an ineffective control of this invasive insect, we advocate hot water (> 50°C) to remove soil, followed by Virkon® S as a microbial biocide on ‘clean’ boots. Implications for the spread of invasive invertebrates as a result of increased human activity in the Antarctic region are discussed.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954102020000413
ISSN: 0954-1020
Additional Keywords: biosecurity, Chironomidae, species management, invertebrate control, Signy Island, conservation
Date made live: 19 Sep 2020 07:40 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/525673

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