Printer Friendly

Bay leaves may make rat nests nicer. (Biology).

A study of wood rats' housekeeping suggests they use pest control in their homes, too.

Dusky-footed wood rats (Neotoma fuscipes) along the west coast of Mexico and the United States leave nibbled bits of bay leaves around their sleeping chambers, explains Richard B. Hemmes of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He and his colleagues report in the May Behavioral Ecology that their lab tests show that the bay leaves can kill flea larvae. The leaves might provide home fumigation, wood rat style, the researchers speculate.

When building homes, dusky-footed wood rats heap sticks into protective piles that may reach several feet in height and width. Inside, the rats tunnel and make several chambers, one typically cushioned with moss and chewed twigs for sleeping and others for larders and a latrine. This stickhouse can shelter one occupant after another for decades.

Hemmes and his colleagues surveyed stickhouses in Sonoma County, Calif. Many had the aromatic leaves of California bay plants around the edges of the depressions in which the animals sleep, whereas other types of fresh leaves tended to turn up in the other chambers.

The researchers tested fumigation power by incubating bay leaves in jars with flea larvae. Only about a quarter of the larvae survived 3 days with bay leaves, but more than three-quarters survived in leaf-free jars.

Ornithologists have reported that some birds, such as European starlings, tuck aromatic leaves with pest-fighting properties into old nests. However, says Hemmes, "this is the first report that we know about of nest fumigation in mammals.--S.M.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:research indicates wood rats use bay leaves in nests to control fleas
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 15, 2002
Words:258
Previous Article:Shuttling medicines via blood cells. (Biomedicine).
Next Article:Chemical stops allergic reaction in tests. (Immunology).
Topics:


Related Articles
Tis the season for pest control.
Old West has fastest tree border yet.
City Council hears testimony on so-called 'Rat Bill'.
CUTE SQUIRRELS AND OPOSSUMS OFTEN VIEW YARD AS A SALAD BAR.
COLD HAS PESTS MOVING INSIDE : RODENTS, OPOSSUMS IN HOME ARE HAZARD.
RATS INVADING AREA'S HOMES FIRES, DEVELOPMENT SPUR MIGRATION.
AWWW, RATS! RODENTS BECOMING FAVORED PETS.
When the weather outside is frightful, it's rodent season: don't let these unwanted "guests" near the door*.
The Return of Pete Pack Rat.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters