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


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Pitt, W.C., G.W. Witmer, S.M. Jojola, and H. Sin. 2014. Potential citric acid exposure and toxicity to Hawaiian hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) associated with Eleutherodactylus frog control. Ecotoxicology 23(3): 429-436. doi: 10.1007/s10646-014-1208-8.


We examined potential exposure of Hawaiian hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) to citric acid, a minimum risk pesticide registered for control of invasive Eleutherodactylus frog populations. Hoary bats are nocturnal insectivores that roost solitarily in foliage, federally listed as endangered, and are endemic to Hawaii. Oral ingestion during grooming of contaminated fur appears to be the principal route by which these bats might be exposed to citric acid. We made assessments of oral toxicity, citric acid consumption, retention of material on fur, and grooming using big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) as a surrogate species. We evaluated both ground application and aerial application of 16 % solutions of citric acid during frog control operations. Absorbent bat effigies exposed to ground and aerial operational spray applications retained means of 1.54 and 0.02 g, respectively, of dry citric acid, although retention by the effigies was much higher than bat carcasses drenched in citric acid solutions. A high dose delivered orally (2,811 mg/kg) was toxic to the big brown bats and emesis occurred in 1 bat dosed as low as the 759 mg/kg level. No effect was observed with the lower doses examined (B542 mg/kg). Bats sprayed with 5 ml of 16 % (w/w) citric acid solution showed no evidence of intoxication. In field situations, it is unlikely that bats would be sprayed directly or ingest much citric acid retained by fur. Based on our observations, we believe Hawaiian hoary bats to be at very low risk from harmful exposure to a toxic dose of citric acid during frog control operations.

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