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Annu Rev Entomol. 1990;35:101-26.

Ecology and management of arthropod pests of poultry.

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Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695.


The worldwide spread of modern, high-density confined poultry production systems under the direction of integrators has intensified the importance of a select number of arthropod ectoparasites and habitat pests. This concentrated production of poultry provides artificial ecosystems that are sometimes ideal for the development of large populations of arthropod pests. At the same time the systems are amenable to integrated pest management involving a multipest and multimethod approach to reducing or eliminating arthropod pests. Since rodents are major pests, they should be included in an integrated pest management program to make the program most cost-effective and attractive to the integrators and producers (5). Quantitative data are scarce on economic effects, and the concept of economic thresholds is difficult to apply either to ectoparasites or to habitat pests. The risk of transporting ectoparasites among flocks is difficult to evaluate and necessitates treatment after early detection of the arthropods. Flies and litter beetles present a threat of disease transmission and the potential for lawsuits from neighbors or public health agencies that are factors not subject to easy cost estimates. The monetary losses of a flock devastated by disease or a farm forced to close are so great that the risks are unacceptable. Production losses from lowered feed conversion ratios and insulation damage are likely to be detected by the sophisticated record-keeping of the integrators. Minimal use of pesticides and other chemicals on poultry and in poultry housing is an objective of the integrators and, consequently, an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that reduces the need for pesticides is attractive. The key to further development of effective arthropod management programs for poultry is the implementation of pest and disease monitoring programs for the complete system. Improvements in arthropod sampling methods and more attention to monitoring the biosecurity systems to minimize ectoparasite dispersal are needed. The integrators have servicemen who regularly visit the production facilities and can be trained to perform monitoring functions and to instigate and supervise integrated pest management measures. With the increasing use of computers by the integrators, the prospects for utilizing the monitoring data in predictive computer simulation models for pest management decision-making justify more efforts to develop such tools (64, 102, 168). Future poultry pest management programs must be based on sound data, which presently is too limited, and must be flexible enough to adjust rapidly to evolving pest problems in rapidly changing production systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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