The effectiveness of Virkon® S disinfectant against the invasive chironomid Eretmoptera murphyi and implications for Antarctic biosecurity practices.

Published: 24 June 2020| Version 4 | DOI: 10.17632/3686s39g9j.4
Jesamine Bartlett, Richard James Radcliffe,


This study is an exploration of the efficacy of existing biosecurity protocols in Antarctica (virkon bootwashes) against an invasive invertebrate, Eretmoptera murphyi. This dataset includes all experimental treatment data on the response of E. murphyi to Virkon dilutions over varied durations, and alternative possible biosecurity treatments including tolerance to hotwater exposures and salt water: We investigated the efficacy of, Virkon® S in controlling the spread of E. murphyi using boot-wash simulations and maximum threshold exposures. We found E. murphyi tolerates over 8 h of submergence in 1% Virkon® S. Higher concentrations increased effectiveness, but larvae still exhibited > 50% survival after 5 h in 10% Virkon® S. Salt and hot water treatments (without Virkon ® S) were explored as possible alternatives. Salt water proved ineffective, with mortality only in first-instar larvae across multi-day exposures. Larvae experienced 100% mortality when exposed for 10 s to 50 °C water, but complete survival at 45 °C. Given current boot-wash protocols alone are an ineffective control of this invasive insect, we advocate hot water (>50 ºC) to remove soil, followed by Virkon® S as a microbial biocide on ‘clean’ boots. This work is accepted for publication in Antarctic Science in June 2020


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Norsk Institutt for Naturforskning, British Antarctic Survey, University of Birmingham


Insect Physiology, Antarctic Environmental Health Issues, Biological Invasion, Chironomids, Biosecurity