Metarhizium anisopliae, is a fungus that grows naturally in soils throughout the world and causes disease in various insects.
Fungal spores attach to the surface of the insect, germinate and begin to grow. The fungus penetrates the exoskeleton of the insect and grows very rapidly inside the insect, causing it to die. The fungus can be spread by contact. The Australian Plague Locust Commission currently uses a strain of this fungus isolated from a dead spur-throated locust (Austracris guttulosa) found in Queensland as a biological control agent to manage locust populations.
As control of locusts using metarhizium is considerably more expensive than using chemical insecticides, it is mainly used on certified organic production properties and in areas where chemical pesticide use is restricted or undesirable.
Currently research is concentrating on increasing the range of products against a large variety of insects in Australia.