After working for one season as a veterinarian on Mackinac Island I realized how serious a problem flies can be. They irritate the horses enough to make them want to get away. They bite the dogs until they bleed. They were a general nuisance to the people, workers and tourists as well. We were perpetually reminded by fly spraying requests which were constantly made by the carriage drivers. Sprays were so limited and limited in their effectiveness.
My thoughts were frequently about what could be done. While talking to a cousin of mine, who is a dairy farmer using Fly Predators successfully, he gave me an ad for Spalding Labs. I called, found great interest in our situation and I began to see what a program like this could do for the Island.
Tom Spalding also made a trip to our unique Island, powered only by horses and electricity. What I discovered is that our biting flies primarily reproduce in decaying vegetation, not garbage or manure as the house fly does.
The City had been putting out fly parasites from another company for some time but their recommend quantities were far less than what we needed and their instructions for release mainly concentrated on the places where House Flies reproduce. You can imagine the surprise and difficulty in convincing horse owners that had been using feed additive insecticides that they were only affecting the House Flies. Not to mention all of the composters, who with their “organic” solution to waste, didn’t realize it, but were a large part of the problem.
We toured the Island with Tom and discovered many potential breeding grounds for the biting flies. We found rotting vegetation in compost piles, rotting hay from big round bales, decaying feed in mangers and on the ground. Most of these places revealed biting fly maggots. I personally distributed and recruited private horse owners, the horse companies as well as the city to distribute the Fly Predators. We concentrated our efforts in all of those places, with a greater number of Fly Predators. As Tom predicted a month later, the biting fly numbers were dramatically reduced, being nearly eliminated. We also wiped out most of the House Flies. What a relief for a place that depends on tourism, animal comfort and peoples’ pleasure.
We now have a Fly abatement program which involves everyone. Next year we plan on starting earlier, managing better and we expect even better results. —Dr. Al—
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