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


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 (PRJ000097) 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 mycopesticides, particularly the use of very low to ultralow volume formulations and granules. In addition, inhouse fungal spore production has been optimised. The proposed project aims to develop and test mycopesticides 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 mycopesticides 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 PRJ000097. Specifically these outcomes and objectives are: Develop mycopesticide formulations (granule and oilbased) 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 mycopesticides 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 mycopesticides 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 mycopesticide formulation for darkling Beetle control along with an industry acceptable application protocol.

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Friday, September 30, 2016

Project Completion Date

Friday, August 31, 2018

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

National Priority

Advanced Technology

National Priority

CME-Improve chicken meat production through the whole supply chain