Evaluation of Targeted Injections of Ivermectin or Potassium Chloride for Euthanasia of Anesthetized Thorny Devil Stick Insects (Eurycantha calcarata)

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Ashlyn C Heniff, Melinda A Gorges, Gregory A Lewbart, Julie A Balko
Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens
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Insects are commonly utilized in biomedical research and have become increasingly popular in museum collections and as pets. Despite this, objective evaluation of insect euthanasia is scarce. This study investigated the effectiveness of targeted injections of ivermectin or potassium chloride (KCl) for the euthanasia of anesthetized thorny devil stick insects (Eurycantha calcarata). Ten clinically healthy mature insects (six males, four females) were enrolled. Insects were weighed and anesthetized via exposure to a cotton ball soaked with 1.6 mL of liquid isoflurane in a 1 L sealed chamber until loss of righting reflex and response to stimulation (induction). Insects then received one of three treatments: ivermectin 100 mg/kg (n = 4), KCl 200 mEq/kg (n = 4), or 0.9% sodium chloride 100 mL/kg (n = 2) injected along the ventral thoracic midline between the first leg plate and the caudal adjacent plate. Following injection, insects were serially monitored for return of spontaneous movement and righting reflex. Death was defined as the absence of spontaneous movement for 48 h. Median (range) induction time and isoflurane concentration at induction was 36 (22–39) min (n = 9) and 22 (19–22)%, respectively. Euthanasia was successful in 4/4, 3/4, and 0/2 isoflurane-anesthetized insects receiving ivermectin, KCl, or 0.9% sodium chloride, respectively. Recovery was prolonged at 10.5 (sodium chloride female), 11.0 (KCl male), and 18.0 (sodium chloride male) hours. This is the first prospective investigation of euthanasia in adult E. calcarata. In this preliminary study, ivermectin 100 mg/kg via ventral midline injection was effective for euthanasia of thorny devil stick insects.


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