The effects of ethylene glycol and ethanol on the body mass and elemental composition of insects collected with pitfall traps

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Insects often used as accumulation indicators of hazardous elements. Pitfall traps with ethylene glycol as trapping fluid are frequently used to collect insects. We studied the effect of glycol and preservation with ethanol on the elemental composition of hand collected firebugs. Control samples were stored in a freezer and the following treatments were used: insect kept in trapping fluid for 2 weeks, and for 1 month, trapping fluid for 2 weeks plus 2 weeks in ethanol, and trapping fluid for 1 month plus ethanol for 1 month. Insects kept in trapping fluid gained mass with respect to control: 26% for the short trapping and 37% for the long trapping. Preservation in ethanol reversed this effect in each case. Trapping fluid did not alter the dry mass. A significant loss in dry mass only occurred in the long trapping plus long preservation treatment. We analysed the concentration of eight elements: Ca, Cu, K, Mg, Mn, Na, Sr and Zn. We found significant difference in the concentrations of elements among the four treatments in the case of all elements, except magnesium and zinc. Our results indicate the potential of both certain trapping fluids as well as preservation in ethanol influencing the concentration of certain elements in insects. Live trapping for collection and storage in under freezing conditions for preservation could be a more reliable method if quantitative analytical studies are to be performed, when invertebrates are used as indicators of the presence and concentrations of hazardous substances in the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1447-1452
Number of pages6
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2009



  • Bioindicators
  • Elemental analysis
  • Ethanol
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Heavy metals
  • Pitfall trapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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