Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 October 2019
The poultry red mite (PRM) is an obligatory haematophagous pest that causes substantial economic losses in poultry worldwide. The PRM does not live on the host but in the bird's environment and must find its host remotely. Hence, manipulating chicken odours is of interest. Several crude plant-originating volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have already been shown as repellent to Dermanyssus gallinae. We aimed to test whether these VOCs can interfere with PRM host-seeking behaviour by their oral administration to the poultry. The objectives were to determine (1) if hen odours are modified by supplemented feed ingestion and (2) if such treatment makes hens less attractive to the PRM. Chemical characterization by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry of the hen odour was conducted before and after the hens ingested the supplemented feed. The chromatograms obtained show that hen odour was substantially modified after the hens consumed it. Among the molecules recurrently detected from the supplemented hens, 26% were nearly absent in the unsupplemented hens. Behavioural choice tests to compare the effect of the modified and unmodified-host odours on the PRM show that some of the plant-originating emitted VOCs and the modified whole-hen odours were repellent to the PRM.
These authors contributed equally to this work.