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J Med Entomol. 1998 Jul;35(4):415-22.

Review of insecticide resistance in cat fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae).

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Department of Entomology, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, USA.


Insecticide resistance often is blamed for failures of insecticides to control cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché). Yet the genetics and adaptive advantage of resistance traits remain unexamined. Lethal doses of insecticides that kill 50% of the population fluctuate 7-fold within a cat flea strain. Many reports of flea resistance may be attributable to variable mortality from effects of solvents, substrates, humidities, temperatures, colonization, and ages of fleas. Resistance ratios (ratios of lethal doses of a resistant to a susceptible strain) are < 690-fold in fleas; lower than many other arthropods. This, plus strain variability, hinders resistance detection. Relationships between resistance levels, control failures, and health threats are unclear. Insensitive acetylcholinesterase, knockdown recovery, glutathione transferase conjugation, and mixed function oxidase/cytochrome P450 are demonstrated resistance mechanisms in cat fleas. Ecological genetics of resistance in cat fleas probably involves flea transfer among hosts, host movements, refugia, founder effects, and mortality from abiotic factors. Understanding cat flea resistance requires population monitoring before, during, and after insecticide treatments using conventional and rapid molecular bioassays. Sustained insecticide release devices such as flea collars and long-lived insecticide residues for premises possibly contribute to the development of resistance. New systemic and topical insecticides, especially when given prophylactically, may act similarly. Eliminating insecticides prevents insecticide resistance but necessitates application of biorational tactics incorporating mechanical, environmental, and cultural controls. Using high temperatures, low humidities, host grooming and such tactics as decreasing doses, increasing action thresholds, rotating insecticides, and leaving spatial and temporal refugia may suppress cat flea resistance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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