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Organophosphates (OP)

What do they treat?

√ Flies √ Ticks √ Lice

When using OPs to target a particular parasite, be aware that they will be treating any other of the above-mentioned parasites that are present. This can increase the development of chemical resistance by all of these parasites each time an OP product is used.

Note: ​​ √ Toxic to humans

How can they be administered?

√ Ear tags √ Spray on √ Dip √ Backrubber √ Powder

√ Premises surface spray √ Premises paintable bait

A variety of application methods for administering pesticide products to cattle are in use.

  • Ear tags, spray on, pour on and dips should be correctly applied to all cattle in a mob to ensure effective control.
  • Only powder treat affected animals for flystrike.


Reported in: √ Flies / Ticks

What is resistance?


Everyone working in the rural industry has a ‘duty of care’; a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for everyone on the property.

  • Toxic to humans.
  • Occupational health and safety risks necessitate greater care during storage, use and disposal of OPs.
  • OPs may be absorbed through human skin, inhaled in vapours or absorbed by ingestion.
  • Absorption is enhanced by moisture on the skin surface (eg sweat or contaminated clothes).
  • OPs are readily absorbed through breaks in the skin, such as cuts, cracked skin and sores.
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for application method.


Withholding periods are mandatory with all registered veterinary products used to treat animals for internal and external parasites.

  • Always check the product label before use for specific withholding periods (WHP) and export slaughter interval (ESI) periods. Current ESI periods can be confirmed on the APVMA website.

Types of organophosphate

A guide to the different actives and the pests they affect are in Table 1. See the Products Search Guides for LiceBoss, WormBoss, TickBoss and FlyBoss for the appropriate formulation and application method for your target pest. Note combinations and mixtures of actives may improve treatment efficacy.

Table 1. Organophosphates, their actives, combinations and mixtures and a summary of the targeted parasites for which formulations are registered for. Boxed check marks indicate the pest targeted by multiple actives.

Pests targeted (may vary with formulation)
Worms Flies Ticks Lice Mites
Buffalo fly Stable fly Premises flies* Fly strike Cattle tick Paralysis tick Bush tick
Combination (all actives target boxed parasite)
Chlorfenvinphos and cypermethrin Buffalo fly √ Cattle √ and other ticks
Ethion and deltamethrin Buffalo fly √ Cattle √ and bush tick
Diazinon and pyrethrins

*IRAC Mode of Action group 1B

What are they?

Organophosphates (OPs) are synthetic chemicals that belong to the organic esters of phosphoric acid. OPs kill insects by altering normal neurotransmission.

How do they work?

OPs have a broad spectrum of activity.

Most OPs act by contact with the insect, with a few also being systemic. OPs exert their effects on the nervous system of organisms. As such, they are relatively fast-acting insecticides. Susceptible insects will be killed within 4-8 hours of exposure. OPs cause accumulation of acetylcholine (ACh) by blocking the enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) which normally breaks down this neurotransmitter. ACh is common to both insects and mammals and as a result, OPs are inherently toxic to humans.

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