The horn fly, Haematobia irritans
, is an obligate bloodsucking ectoparasite of pastured cattle and is a major pest of livestock production in North and South America and Europe. In this study, we investigated the potential to use cattle pastures, infected with non-toxic, “friendly” fungal-endophyte-infected (E+) tall fescue, Festuca arundinacea
Schreb., as a strategy for reducing horn fly loads in cattle, and to evaluate the possible bioinsecticide effect on horn fly larvae.
When cattle grazed in E+ tall fescue, a decrease in fly-load was observed, compared with other pastures (endophyte-free (E-) pastures). The infestation of horn fly load decreased according to an increase in the percentage of endophyte present in the different pastures (0 to 100%). Moreover, two groups of animals with significant differences in the fly-load (high and low fly-load) in the same herd were observed (P
< 0.05). Additionally, it was possible to determine a bioinsecticide effect of cattle dung, upon horn fly larvae (80%), from animals fed E+ tall fescue.
These results constitute the first report on the potential for exploiting pasture management for controlling 1) horn fly-loads on cattle and 2) the normal development of horn fly larvae. In conclusion, this information provides preliminary understanding of the role of cattle pasture diet management for controlling horn fliesas part of an integrated pest management strategy for this major pest of farmed livestock.