Darkling Beetle Control
Darkling beetles and their control is a major concern for poultry growers. Darkling beetles and their larvae, lesser mealworms, harbor a number of poultry diseases and are a serious food safety concern by serving as a source of transmission for Salmonella and Campylobacter. They also can eat chicken feed, tunnel through and destroy insulation, and chickens like to eat them (darkling beetles are not digestible so chicken fill up on them rather than feed and they don’t get the weight gain).
The overuse of pyrethroids such as Bifenthrin (tradenames Actishield, Talstar and Nemesis), Cyfluthrin (Tempo and Optashield), Esfenvalerate (Valorshield), Gamma-cyhalothrin (StandGuard), Lambdacyhalothrin ( Grenade, Demand and OxyFly), Permethrin (Tenguard) and Pyrethrin (Riptide) to control darkling beetles has led to a resistance problem. Insecticides such as Chloryrifos (Duratrol Darkling Beetle Spray and Durashield), Spinosad (Elector PSP) and Imidacloprid (Credo) offer different modes of action and are an alternative to the pyrethroids. Chloryrifos requires a certified applicator to apply it. A new biological control, Balance, is going to be an option. Balance is the tradename for a fungal disease that only affects beetles.
Listen to Dr. Nancy Hinkle, University of Georgia Extension entomologist, on On The Farm at OTF-HinkleDarklingBeetleControl for the latest information on darkling beetle control.
Darkling beetle larvae (Photo by Aubree Roche)