New research from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service shows that compounds found in catnip can discourage stable flies from biting cattle.
The stable fly is a major pest of
Traditional insecticides—in addition to being impractical for organic farmers—have had limited success in countering this biting pest. Fortunately, scientists at the ARS Agroecosystem Management
Research Unit in
ARS entomologists Jerry Zhu and Dennis Berkebile are working with industry and
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 eggs—another 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
The research has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Medical and Veterinary Entomology.