University of California

An Epizootiological Study of Entomophthora muscae in muscoid fly populations on Southern California poultry facilities, with emphasis on Musca domestica


Bradley A. Mullens
John L. Rodriguez
Jeffery A. Meyer

Authors Affiliations

Bradley A. Mullens was Assistant Professor of Entomology, Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside; John L. Rodriguez was Staff Research Associate, Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside; Jeffery A. Meyer was IPM Specialist, Cooperative Extension, Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 55(3):1-41. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v55n03p041. June 1987.

PDF of full article, Cite this article


Infection by the pathogenic fungus Entomophthora muscae was monitored in muscoid fly populations on four caged-layer poultry facilities in southern California. Adult flies were captured every 1 to 2 weeks with sweep nets and held for 7 days in the laboratory to assess incidence of infection over a 2-year period. Patent Musca domestica and Ophyra aenescens infections were found throughout the year. Average prevalence of infection in M. domestica was highest (45 percent) in fall and lowest (replacecodegt 1 percent) in the hot summer months. Infection in O. aenescens at times approached 100 percent, with three peaks of E. muscae activity (March, June, November) coincident with peak population densities. Infections in Fannia canicularis and F. femoralis were evident primarily in late spring. Peak average infections in F. canicularis (45 percent) lagged behind peak adult population density by 3 weeks in 1983. Infections in Fannia spp. were rare in 1984 due to low rainfall and subsequent low adult densities. Infection prevalence was higher in male than female hosts, but was probably influenced by the shorter incubation period in males and the short holding period. Flies were not infected with E. muscae as larvae or while emerging from manure. Cool fall weather stimulated morning M. domestica aggregation on the south walls of the primary poultry house study site, where cadavers killed by E. muscae were most common. Flies likely were infected primarily by morning exposure to secondary conidia expelled from these structure surfaces. Possible management techniques to optimize E. muscae activity are discussed.

Literature Cited

Anderson J. R., Poorbaugh J. H. Biological control possibilities for house flies. Calif. Agric. 1964a. 18:2-4.

Anderson J. R., Poorbaugh J. H. Observations on the ethology and ecology of various Diptera associated with northern California poultry ranches. J. Med. Entomol. 1964b. 1:131-47.

Axtell R. C. Use of predators and parasites in filth fly IPM programs in poultry housing. Status of Biological Control of Filth Flies 1981. p.212. Proc. Workshop Feb. 4-5, 1981, Gainesville, Fla. USDA-ARS

Axtell R. C., Rutz D. A. Role of parasites and predators as biological fly control agents in poultry facilities. Misc. Publ. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 1986. 61:88-100. Patterson R. S. Rutz D. A. (Eds.). Biological control of muscoid flies

Baird R. B. Notes on a laboratory infection of Diptera caused by Empusa muscae Cohn. Can. Entomol. 1957. 89:432-35.

Belazy S. On rhizoids of Entomophthora muscae (Cohn) Fresenius (Entomophthorales: Entomophthoraceae). Mycotaxon. 1984. 19:397-407.

Berisford Y. C., Tsao C. Field and laboratory observations of an entomogenous infection of the adult seedcorn maggot, Hylemya platura (Diptera: Anthomyiidae). J. Georgia Entomol. Soc. 1974. 9:104-10.

Brefeld O. Untersuchungen über die Entwicklung der Empusa muscae und Empusa radicans, und die durch sie verursachten Epidimien der Stubenfliegen und Raupen. Abhandl. d. Naturf. Gesellsch. Halle. 1871. 12:1-52.

Brefeld O. Untersuchungen aus dem Gesamtgebiete der Mycologie 1908. p.119. XIV. Die Kultur der Pilze DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.3887 [CrossRef]

Brobyn P. J., Wilding N. Invasive and developmental processes of Entomophthora muscae infecting houseflies (Musca domestica). Trans. Br. Mycol. Soc. 1983. 80:1-8.

Carruthers R. T. The biology and ecology of Entomophthora muscae (Cohn) in the onion agroecosystem 1981. Ph.D. dissertation, Mich. State Univ., East Lansing

Carruthers R. I., Haynes D. L. Laboratory transmission and in vivo incubation of Entomophthora muscae in the onion fly, Delia antiqua. J. Invert. Pathol. 1985. 45:282-87.

Carruthers R. I., Haynes D. L., MacLeod D. M. Entomophthora muscae (Entomophthorales: Entomophthoraceae) mycosis in the onion fly, Delia antiqua (Diptera: Anthomyiidae). J. Invert. Pathol. 1985. 45:81-93.

Carruthers R. I., Whitfield G. H., Haynes D. L. Pesticide-induced mortality of natural enemies of the onion maggot, Delia antiqua (Dip.: Anthomyiidae). Entomophaga. 1985. 30:151-61. DOI: 10.1016/0022-2011(88)90115-2 [CrossRef]

Chapman R. F. The Insects: Structure and Function. 1971. N.Y: Amer. Elsevier Publ. Co. Inc. 819p. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511818202 [CrossRef]

Cohn F. Empusa muscae und die Krankheit der Stubenfliegen. Verhandl. Kaiserl. Leop. Carol. Akad. Naturforsch. 1855. 25:301-60.

Eilenberg J., Bresciani J., Latge J.-P. Ultrastructural studies of primary spore formation and discharge in the genus Entomophthora. J. Invert. Pathol. 1986. 48:318-24.

Goldstein B. Resting spores of Empusa muscae. Bull. Torey Botan. Club. 1923. 50:317-28.

Graham-Smith G. S. Observations on the habits and parasites of common flies. Parasitology. 1916. 8:440-544. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182000010714 [CrossRef]

Graham-Smith G. S. Further observations on the habits and parasites of common flies. Parasitology. 1918. 11:347-87. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182000004303 [CrossRef]

Greenburg B. Flies and Disease. 1971. 1: N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press. 856p. DOI: 10.1038/scientificamerican0765-92 [CrossRef]

Gussow H. T. Empusa muscae versus Musca domestica L. Ann. Appl. Biol. 1917. 3:150-58.

Gustaffson M. On species of the genus Entomophthora Fres. in Sweden. I. Classification and distribution. Lantbr. Ann. 1965. 31:103-212.

Hewitt C. G. The House Fly Musca domestica L. Its Structure, Habits, Development, Relation to Disease and Control. 1914. London: Cambridge Univ. Press. 382p.

Holway R. T., Mitchell W. A., Salah A. A. Studies on the seasonal prevalence and dispersal of the Egyptian housefly. I. The adult flies. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 1951. 44:381-98.

Keller S. Entomophthora muscae als Artenkomplex. Mitt. Schweiz. Entomol. Ges. 1984. 57:131-32.

Kilpatrick J. W., Quarterman K. D. Field studies on the resting habits of flies in relation to chemical control. Part II—In rural areas. Amer. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 1952. 1:1026-31.

Krafsur E. S. Age composition and phenology of house-fly (Diptera: Muscidae) populations. J. Med. Entomol. 1985. 22:515-23.

Kramer J. P. The house fly mycosis caused by Entomophthora muscae; influence of relative humidity on infectivity and conidial germination. J. N.Y. Entomol. Soc. 1980. 88:236-40.

Kramer J. P., Steinkraus D. C. Culture of Entomophthora muscae in vivo and its infectivity for six species of muscoid flies. Mycopathologia. 1981. 76:139-43.

Lakon G. Bemerkungen über die Uberwinterung von Empusa muscae. Zeit. Angew. Entomol. 1919. 5:286-90.

Latge J. P. Production of Entomophthorales 1982. pp.164-69. Proc. Third Int. Colloq. Invert. Pathol., Univ. Sussex, Brighton

Lebert S. Über die Pilzkrankheit der Fliegen. Neue Denkschr. Allgem. Schweiz. Ges. 1856. 15:1-48.

Legner E. F., Dietrick E. J. Effectiveness of supervised control practices in lowering population densities of synanthropic flies on poultry ranches. Entomophaga. 1974. 19:467-78. DOI: 10.1007/BF02372782 [CrossRef]

Legner E. F., Olton G. S. Distribution and relative abundance of dipterous pupae and their parasitoids in accumulations of domestic animal manure in the southwestern United States. Hilgardia. 1971. 40:505-35. DOI: 10.3733/hilg.v40n14p505 [CrossRef]

Legner E. F., Olton G. S., Eastwood R. E., Dietrick E. J. Seasonal density, distribution and interactions of predatory and scavenger arthropods in accumulating poultry wastes in coastal and interior southern California. Entomophaga. 1975. 20:269-83. DOI: 10.1007/BF02371952 [CrossRef]

Loomis E. C. Integrated management of pest flies on poultry ranches. Leaflet 2505. 1981. Berkeley: Division of Agricultural Sciences, Univ. Calif. 18p.

MacLeod D. M., Müller-Kögler E., Wilding N. Entomophthora species with E. muscae-like conidia. Mycologia. 1976. 68:1-29.

Maier P. P., Baker W. C., Bogue M. D., Kilpatrick J. W., Quarterman K. D. Field studies on the resting habits of flies in relation to chemical control. Part I—In urban areas. Amer. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 1952. 1:1020-25.

Mullens B. A. Host age, sex, and pathogen exposure level as factors in the susceptibility of Musca domestica to Entomophthora muscae. Entomol. Exp. and Appl. 1985. 37:33-39.

Mullens B. A. A method for infecting large numbers of Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae) with Entomophthora muscae (Entomophthorales: Entomophthoraceae). J. Med. Entomol. 1986. 23:457-58.

Mullens B. A., Rodriguez J. L. Dynamics of Entomophthora muscae (Entomophthorales: Entomophthoraceae) conidial discharge from Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae) cadavers. Environ. Entol. 1985. 14:317-22.

Mullens B. A., Rodriguez J. L. Insecticide effects on Entomophthora muscae (Zygomycetes: Entomophthorales). Entomophaga. 1986. 31:377-83.

Müller P. Zur bedeutung der Musca domestica. Antagonisten Ophyra aenescens (Diptera: Muscidae). III. Laboversuche zur Wechselwirkung zwischen den larven von M. domestica und O. aenescens. Angew. Parasitol. 1982. 23:86-92.

Müller-Kögler E. Pilzkrankheiten bei Insekten. 1965. Berlin: Paul Parey. 444p.

Nolan M. P. Ill, Kissam J. B. Ophyra aenescens: a potential bio-control alternative for house fly control in poultry houses. J. Agric. Entomol. 1985. 2:192-95.

Parker A. H. Studies on the diurnal rhythms of the housefly, M. domestica L., in a dry tropical environment. Acta Tropica. 1962. 19:97-119.

Peck J. H., Anderson J. R. Arthropod predators of immature Diptera developing in poultry droppings in northern California. Part I. Determination, seasonal abundance and natural cohabitation with prey. J. Med. Entomol. 1969. 6:163-67.

Petch T. Notes on entomogenous fungi. Trans. Br. Mycol. Soc. 1934. 19:161-94. DOI: 10.1016/S0007-1536(31)80006-3 [CrossRef]

Robert V., Rabasse J. M., Scheltes P. Facteurs de limitation des populations d’ Aphis fabae Scop. dans l’ouest de la France. 1.-epizootiologie des maladies a Entomophthorales sur feverole de printemps. Entomophaga. 1973. 18:61-75.

SAS. User’s Guide: Statistics. 1982. Cary, N.C: SAS Inst. Inc. 584p.

Schweizer G. Uber die Kultur von Empusa muscae Cohn und anderen Entomophthoraceen auf kalt sterilisierten Nährböden. Planta. 1948. 35:132-76.

Shands W. A., Simpson G. W., Hall I. M. Importance of entomogenous fungi in controlling aphids on potatoes in northeastern Maine. Maine Agric. Exp. Sta. Tech. Bull. 1963. T6:42

Soper R. S., MacLeod D. M. Descriptive epizootiology of an aphid mycosis. USDA Tech. Bull. 1981. 1632:17

Srinivasan M. C., Narasimhan M. J., Thirumalachar M. H. Artificial culture of Entomophthora muscae and morphological aspects for differentiation of the genera Entomophthora and Conidiobolus. Mycologia. 1964. 56:683-91.

Thaxter R. The Entomophthoreae of the United States. Mem. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist. 1888. 4:133-201. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.57312 [CrossRef]

Tobin E. N., Stoffolano J. G. Jr. The courtship of Musca species found in North America. I. The house fly, Musca domestica. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 1973. 66:1249-57.

Vandenberg J. D., Soper R. S. Prevalence of Entomophthorales mycoses in populations of spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana. Environ. Entomol. 1978. 7:847-53.

Wilding N., Lauckner F. B. Entomophthora infecting wheat bulb fly at Rothamsted, Herfordshire, 1969-71. Ann. Appl. Biol. 1974. 76:161-70.

Willson H. R., Mulla M. S. Attractants for synanthropic flies. 2. Response patterns of house flies to attractive baits on poultry ranches. Environ. Entomol. 1973. 2:815-22.

Willson H. R., Mulla M. S. Spatial and temporal trends of house fly response to an attractive bait on poultry ranches. Environ. Entomol. 1975. 4:395-99.

Winter G. Zwei neue Entomophthoreen-Formen. Bot. Centralbl. 1881. 5:62-64.

Yeager C. C. Empusa infection of the house-fly in relation to moisture conditions in northern Idaho. Mycologica. 1939. 31:154-56.

Ystrom P. Biology of houseflies: mortality factors. Danish Pest Inf. Lab. Ann. Rep. 1980. p.60. (1981)

Mullens B, Rodriguez J, Meyer J. 1987. An Epizootiological Study of Entomophthora muscae in muscoid fly populations on Southern California poultry facilities, with emphasis on Musca domestica. Hilgardia 55(3):1-41. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v55n03p041
Webmaster Email: wsuckow@ucanr.edu