Control of biting lice, Mallophaga − a review

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2018
Authors:G. Benelli, Caselli, A., Di_Giuseppe, G., Canale, A.
Journal:Acta Tropica
Pagination:211 - 219
Date Published:Jan 2018
Keywords:biopesticide, Bird lice, biting lice, eco-friendly control

he chewing lice (Mallophaga) are common parasites of different animals. Most of them infest terrestrial and marine birds, including pigeons, doves, swans, cormorants and penguins. Mallophaga have not been found on marine mammals but only on terrestrial ones, including livestock and pets. Their bites damage cattle, sheep, goats, horses and poultry, causing itch and scratch and arousing phthiriasis and dermatitis. Notably, Mallophaga can vector important parasites, such as the filarial heartworm Sarconema eurycerca. Livestock losses due to chewing lice are often underestimated, maybe because farmers notice the presence of the biting lice only when the infestation is too high. In this review, we examined current knowledge on the various strategies available for Mallophaga control. The effective management of their populations has been obtained through the employ of several synthetic insecticides. However, pesticide overuse led to serious concerns for human health and the environment. Natural enemies of Mallophaga are scarcely studied. Their biological control with predators and parasites has not been explored yet. However, the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae has been reported as effective in vitro and in vivo experiments against Damalinia bovis infestation on cattle. Furthermore, different Bacillus thuringiensis preparations have been tested against Mallophaga, the most effective were B. thuringiensis var. kurstaki, kenyae and morrisoni. Lastly, plant-borne insecticides have been evaluated against Mallophaga. Tested products mainly contained bioactive principles from two Meliaceae, Azadirachta indica, and Carapa guianensis. High efficacy of neem-borne preparations was reported, leading to the development of several products currently marketed. Overall, our review highlighted that our knowledge about Mallophaga vector activity and control is extremely patchy. Their control still relied on the employ of chemical pesticides widely used to fight other primary pests and vectors of livestock, such as ticks, while the development of eco-friendly control tool is scarce. Behavior-based control of Mallophaga, using pheromone-based lures or even the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) may also represent a potential route for their control, but our limited knowledge on their behavioral ecology and chemical communication strongly limit any possible approach.

Short Title:Acta Tropica
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