Myco-insecticide for nuisance fly control in cattle feedlots


The house fly, Musca domestica L., is a ubiquitous cosmopolitan pest of agricultural and public health importance that causes irritation, spoils food and vectors pathogenic organisms. M. domestica is able to breed and develop in a vast array of organic larval substrates. Cattle feedlots with abundant carbohydrate sources for adults and manure for larvae provide ideal breeding conditions for this nuisance fly. Consequently vast populations of M. domestica can build up in cattle feedlots during warm moist seasons.

To date the most prevalent fly control strategy pursued in feedlots has involved chemical control. However, M. domestica has demonstrated an amazing resilience to chemical control through developing resistance to a wide range of chemical classes of insecticides including organophosphates, carbamates and pyrethroids as well as growth regulator insecticides such as diflubenzuron and cyromazine. Resistance has developed to even new classes of insecticide, such as spinosad and the neonicotinoids, imidocloprid and nithiozine.

Previous Meat & Livestock Australia funded projects (B.FLOT.306 and B.FLOT.326) investigated a range of fly control strategies including manure removal and the use of biological agents such as parasitoid wasps and entomopathogenic fungi formulated as a biopesticide. Although the results with the fungal biopesticide could be considered as preliminary they suggest that, through further research into the formulation of the fungal spores and application strategies, there is potential for the development of a commercially viable myco-insecticide for use in cattle feedlots and possibly other intensive livestock.

Project aim

The primary objective of this Meat & Livestock Australia funded project is improve and evaluate bait and spray formulations of a Metarhizium based myco-insecticide for M. domestica control in cattle feedlots to provide sufficient data to interest a commercial entity to co-invest in the further development, registration and commercialisation of the myco-insecticide.

Laboratory research will focus on improving and testing both the bait and spray formulations through optimising the spore viability and attractiveness of the formulations to Musca flies. Extensive testing with large numbers of flies will be carried out to evaluate the formulations in an insectary. Field research will be carried out through two consecutive summer fly seasons to evaluate the improved formulations in feedlots.


Sustainable myco-insecticide formulations for the control of nuisance fly in cattle feedlots suitable for uptake by a commercial company along with efficient application strategies for the delivery of a myco-insectcide.

When: March 2013 to September 2016

Where: Ecosciences Precinct and Darling Downs feedlots

Contact: Dr Diana Leemon E: or Dr Peter James E:

Collaborators: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

RD&E objectives: Enhancing product quality and acceptability; Enterprise sustainability

Industry priorities: Animal Welfare

For more information about previous research, please read these final report summaries or the full reports available from the Meat & Livestock Australia website: