U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Application Strategies for an Anthraquinone-Based Repellent to Protect Oilseed Sunflower Crops from Pest Blackbirds

Date of this Version



Werner, S.J., S.K.Tupper, S.E. Pettit, J.W. Ellis, J.C. Carlson, D.A. Goldade, N.M. Hofmann, H.J. Homan, and G.M. Linz. 2014. Application strategies for an anthraquinone-based repellent to protect oilseed sunflower crops from pest blackbirds. Crop Protection 59: 63-70.


Non-lethal alternatives are needed to manage the damage caused by wild birds to oilseed sunflower

crops (Helianthus annuus Linnaeus). We evaluated field residues and experimental applications of an

anthraquinone-based repellent (active ingredient 50% 9,10-anthraquinone) to minimize red-winged

blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus Linnaeus) depredation of oilseed sunflower. Chemical residues from

experimental applications of the anthraquinone-based repellent (4.7 l/ha and 9.4 l/ha; low, high) in a

ripening oilseed sunflower field were 481 ppm and 978 ppm anthraquinone at the beginning of

blackbird damage, and 385 ppm and 952 ppm anthraquinone at the end of blackbird damage, respectively. Prior to harvest, we observed 402 ppm and 462 ppm anthraquinone in the oil, and 27 ppm and 165 ppm anthraquinone in the pomace from crushed sunflower achenes previously sprayed with the low and high applications, respectively. For the purpose of developing application strategies useful for avian repellents, we subsequently investigated blackbird feeding response to oilseed sunflower treated with the anthraquinone-based repellent and either a registered insecticide or a registered fungicide popularly used for ripening sunflower. We observed a positive concentrationeresponse relationship among blackbirds exposed to anthraquinone and the insecticide (a.i. 8.4% esfenvalerate), or anthraquinone and the fungicide (a.i. 23.6% pyraclostrobin). Blackbirds reliably discriminated between untreated sunflower and that treated with 1810 ppm anthraquinone and 0.1% of the insecticide or 1700 ppm anthraquinone and 0.14% of the fungicide during our preference experiments. Given that ripening achenes are inverted from conventional pesticide applications throughout much of the period associated with blackbird depredation, we also evaluated blackbird repellency of the anthraquinone-based repellent applied to involucral bracts (i.e., the back of sunflower heads) of oilseed sunflower. Blackbirds did not discriminate between untreated involucral bracts and those treated with foliar applications comparable to 4.7 l/ha or 9.4 l/ha; blackbirds consumed more achenes from untreated sunflower heads than from those treated with 18.7 l/ha of the anthraquinone-based repellent. Supplemental repellent efficacy studies should investigate blackbird response to anthraquinone-based repellents (e.g., 4.7 l/ha) within 10e100 ha sunflower fields and include independent field replicates with predicted bird damage, repellent application strategies developed for protection of ripening crops, pre- and at-harvest repellent residues, and bird damage and crop yield measurements.

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