Submitted to: Journal of Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 12, 2005
Publication Date: September 1, 2006
Citation: Crippen, T.L., Sheffield, C.L. 2006. External surface disinfection of the lesser mealworm (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). Journal of Medical Entomology. 43:916-923. Interpretive Summary: The lesser mealworm is a pest commonly found inhabiting poultry facilities. This beetle can harbor disease causing organisms, as well as cause structural damage to buildings. Beetles will remain in the facilities after flocks are removed and new birds are placed into the facilities to grow. The beetles can also be spread outside the facility by the placement of used poultry-house litter and manure onto nearby fields. In order to study the movement of bacteria by this beetle we needed to separate bacteria carried internally from bacteria carried externally on the beetle. In this study, we tested methods to disinfect the external surface of beetles in order to tell if bacteria were carried internally. We achieved bacterial disinfection with a sequential treatment of ethanol and hydrogen peroxide.
Technical Abstract: Many arthropods inhabit poultry houses. Some of these insects are beneficial and some are pests. The lesser mealworm, Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer) is a pest commonly found in poultry litter that can harbor pathogens, as well as cause structural damage to buildings. Beetle infestations are retained between flock rotations and can be spread to the adjoining environment by the application of manure onto fields. In order to study the inadvertent movement of bacteria by this beetle we require the ability to differentiate internal from external sources of bacteria on the beetle. In this study, we tested previously described methods to externally disinfect beetles and found disinfectant efficacies between 40 and 98%. The irregular surface of the animal posed a challenge to cleansing procedures as it offered many recesses able to sequester bacteria. However, we achieved complete bacterial disinfection with a serial treatment of ethanol and hydrogen peroxide or hydrogen peroxide/peracetic acid.