Development and implementation of an attract-and-kill method for control...


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Title Development and implementation of an attract-and-kill method for control of the ectoparasitic, poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) in poultry house facilities
Period 01 / 2010 - unknown
Status Current
Research number OND1342644


Infestations of poultry houses with the blood-feeding mite Dermanyssus gallinae (or red poultry mite) are a major, and severely underestimated economic and animal welfare problem.
Thousands of blood meals per chicken per night may lead to feather-pecking among chickens, stress, reduced egg production, anemia, and, in some cases death. Resistance to acaracides and an increased scrutiny of poultry products for human health hazards (food safety) have severely limited the options to control the problem. Therefore, alternative approaches are urgently needed.
In our research, we will develop an attract-and-kill method that is based on the principle of luring mites to a specific point (using attractive volatile compounds) and consequently infesting them with a biological pesticide. Pilot work in our laboratory has shown that two entomopathogenic fungi (Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae) are promising candidates as biocides. In addition, both volatile compounds emanating from mites ( pheromones ) as well as from chickens ( kairomones ) have shown to be attractive to mites.
Initial analyses with gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry (GC-MS) have demonstrated that it is possible to identify the chemical compounds responsible for attraction. In short, the results of these exploratory studies were highly promising and provide a firm basis for the current proposal.
In a series of steps, our research will move from laboratory evaluation to small cage trials to evaluations in poultry houses. During the laboratory evaluation, the main focus will be on selecting the most effective entomopathogenic fungal strain (viability, virulence and persistence) and on formulating an optimal blend of attractive compounds using GC-MS and Ytube olfactometer bio-assays. These assays are used to test the mites behavior towards volatile compounds. The small cage trials will focus on how to best apply the combination of both the attract and the kill component, and how this is affected by environmental conditions (mainly temperature). The final step consists of evaluations in various poultry house systems.
This step is critical and will demonstrate the suitability of the method in different poultry house systems (enriched cage, free range and organic). In summary, the proposed research aims at developing a method for the control of the red poultry mite that is both easily applicable and adjustable to varying poultry house types (density and location of traps ( attract ) and simple application of well-controllable entomopathogens ( kill ).

Organisations of poultry farmers have stimulated the preliminary research and support the current proposal. In the light of the serious lack of sustainable mite control options, it is likely that the proposed technology will be taken up quickly by poultry farmers. The duration of trap effectiveness will depend on the activity of the attractant and of the killing agent. This will be assessed during the proposed cage and farm trials. Ideally, traps containing the attract-andkill components are set up at the start of a new flock of hens when the poultry house is clean and free of mites. We expect that farmers need to replace the components every month to every few months. Because only a limited number of places need to be reached in the poultry house, less time and effort is required to obtain effective control compared to the current practice of insecticide spraying.
During our preliminary work, we have developed intensive contacts with various poultry farmers and representatives of poultry farmer organizations (PVE, Productschap voor Vee, Vlees en Eieren (Product Board for Livestock, Meat and Eggs); NVP, Nederlandse Vakbond Pluimveehouders (Dutch Union for Poultry farmers); NOP, Nederlandse Organisatie van Pluimveehouders (Dutch Organisation of Poultry Farmers)) to discuss our proposed research and they are highly supportive of our research plans. Involvement of these organizations in the proposed research will ensure that there is direct communication with the end-users: poultry farmers that are looking for alternative and sustainable methods to control D. gallinae. Furthermore, Koppert Biological Systems, a company specialized in biological control of insects and mites has experience with the production, formulation, registration and application of entomopathogenic fungi to control other agricultural pests. In addition, PHEROBANK (part of Plant Research International, Wageningen University and Research Centre), has extensive experience in formulating and developing pheromones. In this way, industrial partners that represent both the attract and the kill component of our research proposal are involved in the development of a method to control a serious pest in poultry farms.

Abstract (NL)

Achtergrond en doel van het onderzoek
Besmettingen van pluimveebedrijven met de bloedzuigende kippenmijt Dermanyssus gallinae (ook wel rode bloedmijt genaamd) zijn een enorm en vaak onderschat economisch probleem én een aantasting van het dierenwelzijn. Duizenden bloedmaaltijden per kip per nacht leiden tot verenpikkerij, stress, verminderde eiproductie, bloedarmoede en in sommige gevallen tot de dood. Resistentie tegen acariciden, en ook de toegenomen controle van pluimveeproducten op mogelijke gezondheidsrisico s, hebben er toe geleid dat de mogelijkheden om deze plaag te bestrijden beperkt zijn. Er is daarom een dringende vraag naar alternatieve oplossingen.

Binnen dit onderzoek ontwikkelt men een attract-and-kill methode. Deze methode is gebaseerd op het lokken van mijten naar een specifiek punt (door gebruik te maken van vluchtige lokstoffen) en vervolgens de mijten aldaar te besmetten met een entomopathogene schimmel.

Doel van het onderzoek
Vanwege het ernstige gebrek aan duurzame opties om mijten te bestrijden, is het waarschijnlijk dat de attract-and-kill methode snel zal worden toegepast door pluimveehouders. De uiteindelijke effectiviteit zal afhangen van hoe lang de lokstoffen en entomopathogene schimmels werkzaam zijn. Dit zal worden onderzocht in de experimenten in kooien en op pluimveebedrijven

Related organisations

Related people

Researcher Prof.dr. M. Dicke
Researcher G.J.Z. Gols
Researcher R. Mumm
Researcher W. Takken
Project leader Ir. T.G.C.M. Niekerk

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