Chemical prevents bacteria-carrying flies from growing

A pesticide that inhibits the growth of insects could fight the spread of foodborne bacteria carried by house flies, according to recent research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Researchers with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service determined that pyripoxyfen, a pesticide that stunts mosquito growth, also prevents fly larvae from maturing to adulthood. House flies can carry foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli after breeding in animal fecal matter, Agricultural Research Magazine reports.

"Pyriproxyfen mimics a hormone in the larval fly," Chris Geden, an entomologist at the ARS, said, according to Agricultural Research Magazine. "When it's applied in sufficient quantities to larval breeding sites such as manure, insects become stuck in the immature stages and they never become adults."

The researchers also found that when the pesticide is administered to adult flies, they pass it on to immature flies and prevent their growth. Small amounts of pyripoxyfen were effective in stunting the growth of larvae when applied to egg-carrying females.

"We found the material extremely effective at low dosages for house flies and that flies are capable of carrying enough back to their breeding sites to prevent the maturation of immature flies," Geden said, according to Agricultural Research Magazine. "We're now working with new formulations of higher potency to improve this system."

The scientists administered pyripoxyfen dust to the flies who laid eggs that died in their pupal phase.

By applying the pesticide in this manner, it could be targeted toward egg-carrying adults, Agricultural Research Magazine reports.