Paederus fuscipes Curtis, a dermatitis linearis causing agent, has received increasing attention from the public, as it poses a serious health threat after mass dispersal into human-dominated areas. Preventive measures against this insect have so far been unsuccessful partly because of limited knowledge about its dispersal pattern. In this study, the dispersal activity of P. fuscipes was studied at infestation-prone residential buildings in Mainland Penang, Malaysia. The dispersal activity of P. fuscipes showed two peaks, that is, from February to April and August to October. Overall, there was no statistical significant correlation between dispersal and climatic parameters, that is, temperature, relative humidity, total rainfall, at all sampling localities. However, dispersal was primarily caused by human activities in rice fields, which accounted for >60% of the variability in dispersal. Particularly, rice harvesting, including straw burning, and cultivation were the major factors triggering P. fuscipes dispersal. These activities presumably disrupted the habitat and normal activities of P. fuscipes and rendered the rice fields unfavorable refuges. In addition, the beetles might also face food shortages after the disturbance of their prey base in the crop fields. The current study provides a predictive tool of P. fuscipes flight periods to ensure insecticide residual spraying is timed in the infestation-prone residential areas before the onset of infestation.
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Vol. 42 • No. 5