Submitted to: Biological Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 14, 2001
Publication Date: December 1, 2001
Interpretive Summary: Litter beetles, including the lesser mealworm and the hide beetle, are some of the most important arthropod pests affecting poultry production worldwide. Litter beetles are reservoirs of numerous pathogens, but their main pest status is a consequence of the movement of mature larvae from the manure or litter in search of pupation sites. Emigrating larvae tunnel into building insulation materials and structural timbers, resulting in costly damage. Annual losses attributed to litter beetles have been estimated at 16 and 10 million dollars in Virginia and Georgia, respectively. There are no effective conventional control methods for these destructive insects. In this project by scientists at the USDA's Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE), a simple mechanical barrier was developed that prevents beetle larvae from climbing the walls and posts of poultry houses. The barrier is composed of PET plastic that is attached in collar form to posts, or in continuous strips to walls, using construction adhesives. The barrier has been 100 percent effective in laboratory trials and field trials have shown that it prevents larval movement for many months with no maintenance required. When house fly populations are high, the effectiveness of the barrier can be slightly compromised by fecal spots on the plastic, but efficacy was easily restored to original levels by washing the fly spots from the barrier with water.
Technical Abstract: Mechanical barriers consisting of bands of polyethylene terepthalate (PET) resin attached to wooden posts by latex caulk adhesive and staples were 100 percent effective in preventing passage of dispersing lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus [Panzer]) larvae in the laboratory. Barriers continued to be 100 percent effective after being held in a caged layer poultry house for three months. PET barriers installed on support posts in a pullet house in Brooker, FL, were greater than 92 percent effective against natural populations of lesser mealworm larvae six months after installation. The barriers were also greater than 94 percent effective against natural populations of larvae of the hide beetle (Dermestes maculatus [DeGeer]) when fly populations were low. Fecal spot depositions by house flies in excess of 31 cumulative fly spots per cm2 on spot cards reduced the effectiveness of the barriers to 79-90 percent, and barrier efficacy was reduced to 40-56 percent when fly spots covered more than 80 percent of the surface of the plastic. Washing the barriers with water to remove fly spots restored their effectiveness against hide beetle larvae to greater than 99 percent.