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Free tests: are your lice resistant to chemicals?

Tests are being offered free during 2019 to assess the current level of pesticide resistance in lice populations. The tests are funded jointly by NSW DPI and Australian Wool Innovation. 

The tests would otherwise cost some hundreds of dollars, and will provide you with information specific to the lice on your sheep, but will also contribute (anonymously) to the industry-wide data. 

The test is only for the Bovicola ovis the common sheep body louse (more information on identification).

Samples are being accepted from all over Australia.

Collecting and sending lice for resistance testing

  • There must be a large and obvious lice population on the individual sheep contributing the fleece (20 or more lice per wool parting).
  • An entire fleece must be sent.
  • The laboratory MUST be contacted in advance to ensure staff will be available when the fleece arrives.

After shearing, the lice will progressively die because the ideal temperature and humidity will not be maintained.

The time from shearing to testing is critical to ensure enough lice survive for testing.

The laboratory will assist you to arrange overnight shipping if this is logisitically possible and not prohibitively expensive.

To send a fleece:
  • You will need to be able to shear the sheep on a Monday, or at latest a Tuesday, with shipping on the same day as shearing.
  • You would immediately roll the fleece loosely in a clean old 100% cotton bedsheet, tablecloth or similar (NO PLASTIC), package into a large box for shipping, and keep in a comfortably warm place (not in direct sun) until ready to transport.
  • You would take the package to the courier in time for it to be transported the same day as shearing.
It is essential you contact the laboratory before considering sending a fleece.

Call or email Narelle Sales at NSW DPI:
narelle.sales@dpi.nsw.gov.au, (02) 4640 6446. 

What is being tested and why?

All of the major chemical groups used for lice treatments are being tested: Spinosad, Imidacloprid, Ivermectin, Cyromazine, Dicyclanil, Diazinon and Diflubenzuron.

This project aims to determine the resistance profiles of blowflies and lice across all wool producing states. It is also gathering baseline data on newer chemicals for future reference.

The results for your property will be emailed or phoned through to you.

For lice, the process takes approximately x weeks.

Further information

Call or email Narelle Sales at NSW DPI narelle.sales@dpi.nsw.gov.au, (02) 4640 6446. 

Please note that Narelle is often in the laboratory testing the flies and  lice, so is not at her phone all day, you may be best to email her.




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