Pork production is an important agricultural component of several States’ economies, including North Carolina. North Carolina has nearly 10 million market hogs, representing 16% of the U.S. total, with a cash value exceeding $1 billion, only second to Iowa in production. Most of the swine are distributed in Sampson and Duplin Counties, where most of our research is conducted. Cockroaches have recently become a serious pest in swine farms and are now recognized as the most important arthropod pest in swine production; severe infestations may contribute to the maintenance and transmission of swine diseases. However, management of cockroach populations has been severely constrained by many factors including cultural and production practices used at the farm, building design, and inadequate sanitation, as well as frequent re-introduction of cockroaches by workers and suppliers. In addition, regulatory restrictions on the types and classes of pesticides that can be used in such facilities frequently result in overuse of several broad-spectrum insecticides, increasing the potential for insecticide resistance to develop in the cockroach population.
The overall goal of our projects is to document and demonstrate reduced-risk integrated pest management approaches in confined swine production systems. We are developing monitoring tools based on pheromones and visual inspections, evaluating physical exclusion approaches, and investigating the efficacy of reduced-risk pesticides such as boric acid and baits. Most recently, Dmitry Mukha has isolated and characterized a densovirus infecting B. germanica that may be useful in biological control efforts. The ultimate goal of this research is to deliver an education program to production managers to allow them to continue an effective site-based pest management strategy. Several innovative options have already been transfered through to the industry through the Extension activities of Mike Stringham.