Development of a Myco-pesticide for control of lesser mealworm in broiler houses

The State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

  • Project code: PRJ-010321

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Friday, September 30, 2016

  • Project completion date: Friday, August 31, 2018

  • National Priority: CME-Priority 3-Contributing to efficient and secure chicken production systems


Lesser mealworm, Alphitobius diaperinus, is a ubiquitous pest of Australian broiler houses. It is a reservoir of avian pathogens including fowl pox and damages house floors and insulation. Usual management practice for lesser mealworm involves insecticide application to the floors of broiler houses before flock placement. Four insecticides are registered for this in Australia, and studies showed that many lesser mealworm populations in Australia exhibit strong insecticide resistance to two of these (Lambkin 2005, 2006). In the 2000s RIRDC funded a project (PRJ-000097) to evaluate biological agents for lesser mealworm control, in an effort to obtain novel and environmentally friendly management options. This project identified strains of entomopathogenic fungi (Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae) virulent to lesser mealworm through laboratory investigations. However it was not possible to fully trial fungi in broiler houses because of insufficient fungal spore production. Consequently an inadequate experimental design was used to evaluate fungi, with small discrete treatment areas on the house floor. Using this method even industry standard insecticides were not able to demonstrate an effect against the pest. Since then the research capabilities of DAF have increased with new technology and knowledge in the formulation and application of myco-pesticides, particularly the use of very low to ultra-low volume formulations and granules. In addition, in-house fungal spore production has been optimised. The proposed project aims to develop and test myco-pesticides at realistic levels, treating whole house floors and strategically under feed lines, as recommended for standard industry insecticides.


Chicken Meat

Research Organisation

The State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Objective Summary

The overall project objective is to develop and test myco-pesticides for the control of lesser mealworm in broiler houses. Control of lesser mealworm meets RIRDC R&D objectives of mitigating biosecurity risks and contributes to the management of endemic poultry disease agents. This research would build on the work undertaken in RIRDC project PRJ-000097. Specifically these outcomes and objectives are:
• Develop myco-pesticide formulations (granule and oil-based) using spores of entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria basssiana for lesser mealworm control
• Investigate and select best application method for treating broiler houses with myco pesticides.
• Evaluate myco-pesticides when applied to broiler house substrates including fresh litter, used litter, and clay (broiler floor) and broiler house structure to identify best area for treatment.
• Evaluate most promising formulations of the myco-pesticides in full field trials in broiler houses when compared to industry standard insecticides.
• Generate data to support further research towards developing and registering a commercial myco-pesticide formulation for darkling Beetle control along with an industry acceptable application protocol.