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Persistence pays off when fighting flies

BM/Getty Images A close up of a fly sitting on a green leaf
PESKY INSECT: Remove fly breeding areas, such as around manure and feeding areas, and near calf hutches, water containers, manure lagoons and fences.
Flies cost U.S. dairy and cattle producers over $1 billion in lost income every year.

Hot. Hot. Hot. It’s summertime, and according to Rick Hack, an independent business consultant, when the temperature goes up, fly numbers rapidly increase.

Every year, flies cost U.S. dairy and cattle producers more than $1 billion in lost income.

“If not controlled, adult flies continue to lay eggs and increase the fly population. Managing larvae and adult flies should be a continuous process throughout the season,” said Hack, who presented a Dairy Calf and Heifer Association webinar about controlling flies on June 4. Hack earned a master’s degree from Clemson University in veterinary entomology and an MBA from Wilmington College.

A nuisance to animals and people, adult flies continue to lay eggs if both adult and larval populations are not controlled, Hack said. Eliminating all fly breeding material is not feasible to prevent adults from repopulating. However, controlling larvae helps prevent adult flies from laying eggs and repopulating. He recommends continuously managing larvae and adult flies throughout fly season.

“Program success is dependent on using the right products at the right time in the right way,” Hack said.

Hack described effective integrated pest management programs, which include inspection, sanitation, treatment and monitoring.

Inspection involves identifying adult fly species on a dairy, developing a facility diagram and recording where adult flies live, and identifying potential breeding areas. There are a variety of flies, including house flies, stable flies, face flies and horn flies, to name a few.

Sanitation includes removing breeding areas, such as around manure and feeding areas, and near calf hutches, water containers, manure lagoons and fences, Hack said.

Fly treatments

For treatment, larvicides can be used in conjunction with adulticides. He advises using both at the same time to achieve better success.

“You cannot just use larvicides to control flies,” Hack said. “You need to use both adulticides and larvicides. Stay ahead of the curve. Use treatments throughout the season — it’s hard to play catch up.”

Identify areas on your farm where flies congregate that can be eliminated, such as around calf hutches, under water containers, at the edges of manure lagoons, in tall grass and under fences.

“Control of the adult fly population is the end goal for producers,” Hack said. “Too often, it is the only type of fly control product used. Larvacides used in conjunction with adulticides will act on multiple life cycle stages and provide a more successful fly management result.”

Different applications can be used at the same time, Hack said. “Using multiple classes of insecticides is one of the key reasons for success. Know your label. Be sure to use lactacting versus nonlactating fly control products around dairy cows.”

The webinar was sponsored by Elanco.

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