We get many calls from interesting and different potential customers, but this one was a little more interesting than most. This was from a vet on an island that has no cars, only horses. Turns out it has a LOT of horses, over 600, on an island you can ride around in 8 miles. Dr. Sibinic’s (Dr. Al to the islanders) primary concern was the biting flies which were tormenting the horses.

Dr. Al explained that the Island is a role model for environmental responsibility in that it recycles almost all its trash, the sanitation on the streets is immaculate, the manure is composted and then used on the abundant gardens. But this spectacularly beautiful and otherwise idyllic place was under siege each summer from very nasty flies. And the horses were getting all the blame. Could we help?

Yes, we could control their flies I explained to Dr. Al, but I told him my guess is that not all of his flies were coming from the horses and he had to treat all the locations on the entire island that were producing flies. Simply put, he had to get ALL the horse owners and others who had fly breeding areas (and were yet to be identified) to participate as the flies could easily travel from one end of the island to the other.

Hmm… that was almost as big a problem as the flies mused Dr. Al, but he would try to line up support and get back to us. For us this was a unique opportunity as being an island, if we stopped fly reproduction there, the results would not be diminished by inward migration from neighbors.

A few weeks later he called back and said he gathered a critical mass of support and that the city would do the program as they do other utilities like the fire, water, power and garbage service. I visited the Island as the first shipment arrived. My first impression was what a gorgeous place. The moment I stepped onto the island from my plane a sense of being on “Island Time” struck me. I came in body and mind at 200MPH and left the airport at horse drawn speed. I kept thinking this is what it was like 100 years ago. What a neat experience (even therapeutic) particularly if you love horses. More at www.mackinacisland.org.

But we had work to do, so with Dr. Al and the city workers who would be dispensing the Fly Predators, we visited every horse facility, every compost area, every possible place a fly could reproduce.

It turns out that the biting Stable Flies were not reproducing in any quantity in the barns or the city, where the fly control focus had been. The problem areas with the horses were the few pens where round bales were rolled out on the ground in damp areas, and then the next day more hay was rolled out over the remaining hay that wasn’t consumed.

These goopy messes of rotting vegetation made a perfect biting Stable Fly factory. But not as perfect as the golf courses service yards where they accumulated grass clippings nor the 100ft long garden compost pile of one of the hotels. The main island composting facility was not producing any flies as it was turned frequently. So the horses were getting all the blame, but they were only producing some, but not all, of the biting flies.

We created a list of locations to release Fly Predators, and provided a separate appropriately sized bag for each. Dr. Al and the city crew did releases every week. We kept our fingers cross as this was now late June and we had started over a month late, so there was the possibility that the flies would get worse before they got better. (It takes about a month to gain control using Fly Predators if you start after there are flies since they only stop future flies.) This would have caused some significant client management issue for Dr. Al, but he had done a herculean job of educating the community of how biological control works, where the flies were really coming from and that results were not going to be instant. Fortunately, the flies stayed the same, and then started to disappear.

About a month later Dr. Al called and said he is seeing much less stomping in the paddocks and downtown and that folks were asking what happened to the flies. It continued to improve throughout August which is normally the worst month. In fact this program was such a success that Dr. Al and the Fly Predators made the front page of the town newspaper, which devoted two multipage stories about it

If you need better fly control we would be honored to be of assistance. --Tom--