Developing Attractants, Repellants for a Cattle
July 31, 2009
New research from the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) shows
that two nepetalactone compounds found in catnip can discourage stable flies
from biting cattle.
The stable fly is a major pest of U.S. cattle. These biting insects create
stress and discomfort for the animals whose blood forms their diet. ARS
scientists estimate the flies bloodsucking habits could cost the U.S.
cattle industry $2 billion annually in reduced production efficiency and milk
Traditional insecticidesin addition to being impractical for organic
farmershave had limited success in countering this biting pest.
Fortunately, scientists at the ARS
Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Neb., are developing a novel
"push-pull strategy" to improve sustainable stable fly management.
Although similar tactics have been employed successfully with other pests, the
push-pull strategy is not commonly used to control stable flies.
Berkebile are working with industry and Kansas State University collaborators to
identify aromatic compounds that attract and repel stable flies. Identifying
volatile and nonvolatile compounds to lure and repel stable flies is an
important step in developing biobased control tools for this pest.
The scientists have already identified two additional nepetalactone
compounds that will discourage even starved stable flies from biting cattle and
feeding on their blood. In laboratory assays, these compounds have a success
rate of more than 98 percent. The same compounds have a 95 percent success rate
in discouraging female stable flies from laying eggsanother important
element of stable fly control.
Zhu and his colleagues have also identified several compounds that elicited
an antenna response in stable flies, similar to that observed in response to
pheromones. These results suggest that these compounds could be used as
attractants for stable fly management.
Zhu is currently working with ARS scientists at the
Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., to develop
technology for field applications.
The research has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Medical and
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.