Chemical stunts growth of bacteria-carrying flies

  • (C) Zeevveez @

    (C) Zeevveez @

    The pesticide pyriproxyfen that has been shown to inhibit insect growth may be used to help reduce the spread of foodborne bacteria carried by houseflies. The chemical has previously been shown to stunt mosquito growth, and new research suggests it has the same effect on fly larvae, preventing them from maturing into adults.

  • The research team also discovered that they could target larvae by administering the pesticide to adult flies, which then pass it on to immature flies, preventing their growth. The study found that the material was effective at low doses and that house flies were capable of carrying sufficient concentrations back to breeding sites.
  • A dust containing pyriproxyfen was applied to egg-carrying females, who then laid eggs that died during the pupal phase, which means the pesticide could be targeted towards these adults rather than needing to be used anywhere a fly might lay eggs.

Implications and next steps: House flies are known to be carriers of foodborne pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella, which are transmitted via animal faecal matter, where many flies breed. This research could be significant in reducing the spread of foodborne bacteria via this route, particularly as the application can be directly targeted.

Agricultural Research Magazine:

About Julia Chatterton

Systems modeller with a particular expertise in food, farming and agricultural systems. Working with life cycle assessment methods for over 4 years to assess and analyse the environmental burdens associated with food and other production systems.
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