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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Microbial Control of Medically Important Insects

Authors
item Lacey, Lawrence
item Becnel, James

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Entomology
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: March 31, 2003
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: Lacey, L.A., Becnel, J.J. 2004. Microbial control of medically important insects. J.Capinera, ed. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. In Encyclopedia of Entomology. p. 1407-1410.

Interpretive Summary: Mosquitoes and black flies are responsible for the transmission of a wide range of disease causing agents of humans and domestic animals. Mosquitoes transmit the causal agents of malaria, filariasis, and several arboviral diseases. Black flies transmit the causal agents of human and bovine onchocerciasis as well as Leucocytozoon spp. in fowl. Many mosquito and black fly control programs are based predominantly on conventional broad spectrum insecticides. Alternative interventions including biological control, would enable abatement of pest and vector species without untoward environmental effects and concomitant hazards for humans. This contribution to the Encyclopedia of Entomology provides background on the use of bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens of mosquito and black fly larvae. As more virulent pathogens are discovered and/or engineered, and with improvement in production methods, formulations and delivery systems and as greater restrictions are placed on interventions that are not environmentally friendly, the role of entomopathogens may increase substantially.

Technical Abstract: Diverse complexes of natural enemies including predators, parasites and pathogens have been reported for mosquitoes and black flies Over the past 30 years the use of insect pathogens as manipulated biological control agents has come from a fairly rudimentary state to one that offers a number of options for practical control of mosquitoes and black flies. The discovery and development of Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis and Bacillus sphaericus varieties with elevated larvicidal activity increased the potential for microbial control of mosquitoes and dramatically reduced the cost inherent with production of other pathogens. Both bacteria can be mass produced by fermentation, have prolonged shelf lives, can be applied with conventional equipment and have minimal impact on non-target organisms in mosquito habitats. This contribution to the Encyclopedia of Entomology presents detailed information on the use of Bacillus spp. against mosquito and black fly larvae in diverse habitats and on the potential of viral, fungal and microsporidian pathogens of medically important flies.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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