SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.55 issue1Interaction between Telenomus remus and Trichogramma pretiosum in the management of Spodoptera spp.Host preference of the egg parasitoids Telenomus remus and Trichogramma pretiosum in laboratory author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Revista Brasileira de Entomologia

Print version ISSN 0085-5626

Rev. Bras. entomol. vol.55 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Mar. 2011 



Susceptibility of Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer) (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) to cypermethrin, dichlorvos and triflumuron in southern Brazil



Andreia Mauruto Chernaki-LefferI; Daniel Ricardo Sosa-GómezII; Lúcia M. AlmeidaI; Ivani de Oliveira Negrão LopesII

IDepartment of Zoology, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Postal Box 19030, 81531–980 Curitiba-PR, Brazil.;
IIEMBRAPA, Postal Box 231, 86001–970 Londrina-PR, Brazil. Corresponding author




Susceptibility of Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer) (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) to cypermethrin, dichlorvos and triflumuron in southern Brazil. The lesser mealworm, Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer), is an important insect pest in poultry houses in Brazil. Susceptibility of the lesser mealworm collected from eight poultry houses in Paraná state, southern Brazil, was evaluated for cypermethrin, dichlorvos and triflumuron. Adult A. diaperinus were tested in bioassays with cypermethrin and dichlorvos. Larvae were fed rabbit feed wetted with a triflumuron-water solution. Concentration-mortality regressions were estimated using Probit analysis and resistance ratios were calculated based on the susceptible population. Among the field populations evaluated, cypermethrin LC50 values for adults, ranged from 68.1 to 6,263 ng (AI)/cm2. LC50 values for adults challenged with dichlorvos ranged from 10.3 to 1,385 ng (AI)/cm2. One population from Pato Branco showed reduced susceptibility to triflumuron (LC50 = 272 µg (AI)/ml of solution) when compared to the most susceptible population (LC50 = 109.8 µg (AI)/ml). Application of cypermethrin and dichlorvos analogues should be managed with caution to minimize insecticide resistance problems.

Keywords: Insect growth regulator; lesser mealworm; poultry house; pyrethroid; organophosphates.


Suscetibilidade de Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer) (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) a cipermetrina, diclorvós e triflumurom no sul do Brasil. O cascudinho, Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer), é uma importante praga em aviários no Brasil. A suscetibilidade do cascudinho à cipermetrina, diclorvós e triflumurom foi avaliada em oito aviários do Estado do Paraná, Brasil. Adultos de A. diaperinus foram testados mediante bioensaios com cipermetrina e diclorvós. As larvas foram alimentadas com ração para coelhos impregnada com suspensões de triflumurom. As regressões de concentração-mortalidade foram estimadas usando análise de Probit e as razões de resistência calculadas com base na população suscetível. Entre as populações de campo avaliadas, os valores da CL50 para adultos tratados com cipermetrina variaram entre 68,1 to 6.263 ng (IA)/cm2. Os valores da CL50 para adultos tratados com diclorvós variaram de 10,3 to 1.385 ng (IA)/cm2. Uma população de Pato Branco apresentou reduzida suscetibilidade ao triflumurom (CL50 = 272 µg (IA)/ml), quando comparada à população mais suscetível (CL50 = 109,8 µg (IA)/ml de solução). Cipermetrina, diclorvós e análogos devem ser manejados e aplicados com cautela para minimizar os problemas de resistência a inseticidas.

Palavras-chave: Aviário; cascudinho; inseticidas reguladores do crescimento; organofosforados; piretróides.



The lesser mealworm Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer), is an important insect pest in poultry houses around the world and is one of the most common beetles inhabiting poultry litter and manure. This species serves as a vector of several poultry diseases (Chernaki-Leffer et al. 2002, 2010) and chickens feeding on larvae show poor weight gain and increased mortality. High beetle populations could lead to reductions in weight gain and feed conversion due to fewer rest periods caused by beetles biting resting birds at night (Hamm et al. 2006).

The first suspicion of insecticide resistance of A. diaperinus was described in turkey broiler houses in the UK (Cogan & Wakefield 1996). Lambkin & Cameron (1999) reported that failures to control this beetle in southeast Queensland, Australia, were due to fenitrothion resistance and the pest's ability to avoid contact with the insecticide. An Australian survey of the lesser mealworm population for insecticide resistance showed that beetle response to cyfluthrin and fenitrothion insecticides was heterogeneous with relatively low resistance: the mean resistance factors were 3.5 and 21 respectively (Lambkin 2001). Later, Lambkin (2005) reported strong resistance to fenitrothion, up to 79 times the LC50 observed, on susceptible populations of A. diaperinus from southeastern Queensland, where this insecticide has been continuously used for 20 years. More recently, resistance reports involving pyrethroids and organophosphates have been published in other countries (Hamm et al. 2006).

Beyond the pyrethroids, insect growth regulators (IGR), especially triflumuron, are commonly used in poultry houses in Brazil. However, studies show that IGR resistance develops if the selection pressure is sufficiently strong (Keiding 1999). While studies of the susceptibility of A. diaperinus to various IGRs has been reported (Weaver & Kondo 1987; Miller & Redfern 1988), no literature was found regarding IGR resistance.

There is no information regarding responses to the most commonly used insecticides for controlling lesser mealworm populations in Brazilian poultry houses. Therefore, we tested susceptibility of populations of A. diaperinus from Paraná State, Brazil to the insecticides cypermethrin, dichlorvos and the growth regulator triflumuron.



Insects. Adults and larvae of A. diaperinus were collected from eight poultry houses in Paraná state: Araucária and Lapa (Metropolitan area), Cascavel and Corbélia (west), Londrina (north), Pato Branco (south-west) in January and March, 2003. Poultry houses had been subjected to variable application frequencies of pyrethroids, organophosphates and triflumuron. The population from Araucária had never been exposed to insecticides and was considered the most susceptible. The populations from Cascavel and Corbélia had been regularly exposed (every 40–50 days) to cypermethrin during the past 4 years. The Londrina population had been exposed to insecticide applications but no written documentation of this existed. One population from Lapa had been exposed only once to cypermethrin approximately one month before the sampling date. The second population collected from Lapa had been exposed to cypermethrin, cyfluthrin, azamethiphos, lambda-cyalothrin, permethrin, chlorpyriphos, and cypermethrin plus dichlorvos every 43–50 days for 6 years. Two populations collected in Pato Branco had been treated every 45–50 days over four years with cyfluthrin and triflumuron. All the insect colonies were maintained at 27 ± 2ºC, 60–70% RH and provided with rabbit food ad libitum.

Chemicals. Commercial grade cypermethrin 15% (Ciperpurina CE, Purina, SP, Brazil) and dichlorvos 50% (DDVP 500 CE, Bio Carb, SP, Brazil) were evaluated in vial bioassays, and triflumuron 48% (Staricide 480 SC, Bayer, SP, Brazil) was evaluated using a diet incorporation method.

Vial bioassays. Glass vials were treated with 500 µL of insecticide in acetone, or with acetone only for control treatments. Twenty adults were placed in each vial and exposed to the pesticides and moistened rabbit food was provided ad libitum. Insects were kept in environmental chambers at 0:24 L:D cycle, 26 ± 1ºC, and 75% RH. All bioassays were replicated 3 to 4 times. The insect mortality was scored every day for 16 days (cypermethrin) and 7 days (dichlorvos). Insect were considered dead if they did not move after prodding.

Diet incorporation. Triflumuron was diluted with water. Rabbit chow was wetted with 6 ml of each dilution of the insecticide in concentrations of 10, 20, 40, 80, 160 and 320 ppm (µg/ml) or with water only for control treatments. Three groups of 10 larvae of 1.0–1.3 cm were placed in plastic vials at 28 ± 1ºC, R.H. > 75%, in darkness, and counted daily for 15 days.

Statistical Analysis. Mortality data were analyzed by probit analysis (Finney 1971) by using the POLO-PC software (LeOra Software 1987) and SAS (2004) to obtain the lethal concentration, its 95% confidence intervals and the slopes of dose-mortality curves. The resistance ratios between geographical populations were considered significantly different when the confidence interval did not include the value of 1 (Robertson & Preisler 1992).



Susceptibility to cypermethrin, dichlorvos and triflumurom varied among populations Tables I, II and III). LC50s of cypermethrin ranged from 68 ng (AI)/cm2 for the most susceptible population collected in Araucária to 6,263 ng (AI)/cm2 for the most resistant population from Corbélia. The slopes of the dose-mortality lines ranged from 0.6–1.9 and the LC90 from 6,263 ng (AI)/cm2 in Araucária to 208,136 ng (AI)/cm2 for Corbélia (Table I). The LC50 of cypermethrin in seven of the populations was significantly greater than the Araucária population. The resistance ratio of Corbélia was 92 times higher than the most susceptible population. The Lapa 1 and Londrina populations had the lowest resistance factors (RR = 4.2 and 7.5, respectively) and the difference between their LC50 of cypermethrin did not differ significantly (Table IV). Populations from Cascavel, Corbélia, Lapa-1, Lapa-2, Londrina, Pato Branco-1 and Pato Branco-2 were somewhat resistant to cypermethrin. Most of these populations had been frequently exposed to pyrethroids for more than four years. All slopes were higher than that from the susceptible population originally collected from Araucária.



The LC50 and LC90 of dichlorvos ranged from 10–1,385 ng (AI)/cm2 and from 480–179,366 ng (AI)/cm2, respectively (Table II). Susceptibility to dichlorvos of the Cascavel population (LC50 = 47.3 and LC90 = 1,072 ng (AI)/cm2) was similar to that of the Araucária population (LC50 = 10.3 and LC90 = 2,916 ng (AI)/cm2). The LC50 of dichlorvos was not significantly different between Lapa-1 and Cascavel. The highest LC50 values were observed in the bioassays from the Pato Branco-2 population (RR = 134; CL50 = 1,385 ng (AI)/cm2) (Table II and IV) which had been exposed to organophosphate and cypermethrin applications for four years.

In bioassays using larvae fed with diet plus triflumuron, the LC50 was similar for the populations from Pato Branco-1 and Corbélia (never exposed to triflumuron). The LC50 of triflumurom for the Pato Branco-2 population was significantly higher than that for Corbélia (Table III and IV).



Based on the exposure history for cypermethrin and dichlorvos, the greatest susceptibility of the Araucária population to cypermethrin and the Araucária and Cascavel populations to dichlorvos is probably due to no insecticide being used over the last two years. Corbélia had the greatest LC50 and also received the greatest selection pressure from cypermethrin. The high LC50 and LC90 values for the Corbélia strain reflect cypermethrin overuse since this pyrethroid was applied at each cleaning of the facilities and repeatedly in the areas close to the chicken feeders. The Pato Branco populations were resistant, with Pato Branco-2 being the least susceptible to dichlorvos and the second least susceptible to cypermethrin whereas Pato Branco-1 was the third most resistant to dichlorvos. This suggests that cross-resistance between cyfluthrin and cypermethrin and multiple resistances between cypermethrin and dichlorvos has occurred in these populations. The use of insecticides with different modes of action could affect the frequency of individuals resistant to one pesticide which is declining during the application of an alternate insecticide (Georghiou 1983).

In the bioassays of larval susceptibility to triflumuron, the Pato Branco-2 population was less susceptible to triflumuron than the Corbélia population but the ratio between them was low (ca. 2.5). Susceptibility of populations to triflumuron can be attributed to the low frequency of resistant genotypes or natural geographic differences between populations, despite the selection pressure of repeated applications every 45–50 days for four years.

The dose/response method is suitable for documenting resistance that has reached high levels but is very inefficient for detecting an incipient resistance outbreak (Roush & Miller 1986). The screening dose can be more effective, making a precise distinction between resistant and susceptible individuals. We suggest screening doses for resistance monitoring of A. diaperinus in poultry houses: 6,711 ng (A.I.)/cm2 for cypermethrin and 2,916 ng (A.I.)/cm2 for dichlorvos since these concentrations can cause 90% mortality in susceptible populations.

The high resistance ratios of A. diaperinus is a consequence of the inappropriate management of their populations, and specifically of the overuse of insecticides. The low cost of cypermethrin is one of the most important reasons for this overuse. Tactics that promote the resistance management of A. diaperinus must be practiced (see Roush 1989) to preserve susceptible genotypes by avoiding unnecessary insecticide applications, rotating insecticides with different modes of action for each insect generation and using recommended application rates. Once a resistance problem is detected, it is necessary to begin resistance-avoiding measures together with a poultry industries awareness program.



Our study indicates that high resistance ratios to cypermethrin and to dichlorvos occurred in most of the poultry houses in Paraná State, Brazil. A population from Pato Branco shows resistance to triflumuron at an early stage of development.



We thank the Cooperativa Agropecuária Cascavel Ltda (Coopavel), Da Granja Agroindustrial Ltda, Comércio de Aves Sudoeste Ltda (Seva) and Avícola Coré-Etuba Ltda, for assistance in insect collection and to the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico – CNPq. This manuscript was approved for publication by the Editorial Board of EMBRAPA Soja, as # 082/2005.



Chernaki-Leffer, A. M.; S. M. Biesdorf; L. M. Almeida; E. V. B. Leffer & F. Vigne. 2002. Isolamento de enterobactérias em Alphitobius diaperinus e na cama de aviários no Oeste do Estado do Paraná, Brasil. Revista Brasileira de Ciência Avícola 4: 243–247.         [ Links ]

Chernaki-Leffer, A. M.; J. Kuttel; L. M. Martins; A. C. Pedroso; C. S. Astolfi-Ferreira; F. Ferreira & A. J. Piantino Ferreira. 2010. Vectorial competence of larvae and adults of Alphitobius diaperinus in the transmission of Salmonella Enteritidis in poultry. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 10: 481–487.         [ Links ]

Cogan, P. D. W. & M. Wakefield. 1996. A comparison of four residual insecticides for the control of the lesser mealworm beetle (Alphitobius diaperinus Panzer) in turkey broiler houses in the UK. International Pest Control. March/April: 52–55.         [ Links ]

Finney, D. J. 1971. Probit Analysis. London. Cambridge University Press, xiv+333 p.         [ Links ]

Georghiou, G. P. 1983. Management of resistance in arthropods, p. 769–792. In: G. P. Georghiou, T. Saito, (Eds.). Pest resistance to pesticides. New York, Ed. By Plenum Press, xiii+509 p.         [ Links ]

Hamm, R. L.; P. E. Kaufman; C. A. Reasor; D. A. Rutz & J. G. Scott. 2006. Resistance to cyfluthrin and tetrachlorvinphos in the lesser mealworm, Alphitobius diaperinus, collected from the eastern United States. Pest Management Science 62: 673–677.         [ Links ]

Keiding, J. 1999. Review of the global status and recent development of insecticide resistance in field populations of the house fly, Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research 89: S9–S67.         [ Links ]

LeOra Software. 1987. Polo-PC: a user's guide to Probit Or Logit analysis. Berkeley.         [ Links ]

Lambkin, T. A. 2001. Investigations into the management of the darkling beetle. A report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. RIRDC Publication Nº 01/151. RIRDC Project Nº DAQ-244J.         [ Links ]

Lambkin, T. A. 2005. Baseline responses of adult Alphitobius diaperinus (Panzer) (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) to fenitrothion, and susceptibility status of populations in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Economic Entomology 98: 938–942.         [ Links ]

Lambkin, T. A. & M. C. Cameron. 1999. Darkling beetle control – Current difficulties and future prospects. The Eleventh Australian Poultry & Feed Convention Proceedings: 184–192.         [ Links ]

Miller, R. W. & R. E. Redfern. 1988. Feed additives for control of lesser mealworm (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) in poultry broiler houses. Journal of Economic Entomology 81: 1137–1139.         [ Links ]

Robertson, J. L. & H. K. Preisler. 1992. Pesticide bioassays with arthropods. CRC Press, Inc., 127 p.         [ Links ]

Roush, R. T. 1989. Designing resistance management programs: How can you choose? Pesticide Science 26: 423–441.         [ Links ]

Roush, R. T. & G. L. Miller. 1986. Considerations for design of insecticide resistance monitoring programs. Journal of Economic Entomology 79: 293–298.         [ Links ]

SAS Institute. 2004. SAS/STAT user's guide, release 9.1 ed. SAS Institute, Cary, NC.         [ Links ]

Weaver, J. E. & V. A. Kondo. 1987. Laboratory evaluation of insect growth regulators in producing lesser mealworm mortality and egg infertility. Journal of Agricultural Entomology 4: 233–245.         [ Links ]



Received 9/3/2010;
accepted 12/1/2011



Editor: Paulo Roberto Valle da Silva Pereira

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License