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Guide to Fly Control for Horses

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Guide to Fly Control for Horses

Revision #26: Modified by on 20 May 2015 4:42 AM in Guide to Fly Control for Horses

A Little Knowledge Goes A Long Way To Get Rid Of Them!

...with Fly Predators, along with the education and support from Spalding Labs, we’re no longer inundated with flies as we were before. We’ve used other products, yet nothing has been as effective as Fly Predators. It’s well worth the investment!

“...with Fly Predators, along with the education and support from Spalding Labs, we’re no longer inundated with flies as we were before. We’ve used other products, yet nothing has been as effective as Fly Predators. It’s well worth the investment!”

—Richard Winters Reno, NV
Road To The Horse Winner wintersranch.com

By gaining some basic understanding of fly biology, particularly what encourages and discourages their reproduction, you can reduce fly numbers to tolerable levels, with no or only a minimal use of insecticides.

Fly Control 101

Often the simple release of Fly Predators, plus modest improvements in manure management and perhaps a few fly traps is all that will be needed.

More comprehensive approaches, including initial careful and selective use of insecticides, may be necessary for the fastest control if the pest fly problem has been allowed to become severe. This is due to the fact that most of the “natural” controls prevent future flies but do not affect existing adults. Since adult House Flies live approximately 21 days, you will either need to put up with them for that long or use traps and baits or careful pesticide application to reduce their population rapidly.

The House Fly and the Stable Fly are the primary pest fly species that create problems as well as being the most widely distributed.

The House Fly and the Stable Fly are the primary pest fly species that create problems as well as being the most widely distributed.

Fortunately both of these can be very effectively controlled by good sanitation and Fly Predators. If sanitation is immaculate then fewer or no Fly Predators may be needed. Conversely, if “immaculate” is beyond practical then adding a few more Fly Predators and perhaps some traps will still yield very satisfactory results.

Note, all other insects listed other than Horn and possibly Cluster Flies are not suitable hosts for Fly Predators and therefore Fly Predators will not help in their control.

The first step is to identify the insect(s) that are plaguing you and your animals. With horses, the majority of your bothersome flies will likely be the House Fly (80%) and the biting Stable Fly (20%). When the fly is identified, then use the methods listed that focus on the prevention and control of that species. This is important as different flies can come from dramatically different places. Preventing flies fixes the problem. Just going after the adult flies you see only affects 15% of the population, the rest will be there bothering you in a week or so.

Using a preventive solution like Fly Predators or making the area less “fly friendly” requires that you treat the locations where the pest flies are reproducing. In almost all cases this is NOT where you see the adult flies that are bothering you or your animals. Often you will see the most flies in the barn but it’s highly likely that only a small percentage of those flies came from the barn. Instead they most likely came from the pasture, corrals, the manure pile, the neighbors animals, etc. If you’ve only been spraying, using traps, or baits you have to think differently when using prevention.

Basic Fly Biology

It’s been said that every creature has its purpose. For flies their purpose is to decompose rotting organic matter such as manure, dead plants and animals. If you have an abundance of material needing decomposition, you get an abundance of flies.

Flies have four stages in their life cycle (shown in the diagram). Adult House Flies lay eggs on or close to a larvalfood source of rotting organic matter (i.e., manure but also compost piles, rotting hay, etc.) the eggs hatch within hours into larvae (maggots). The larvae feed and then in no less than 5 days they pupate forming a cocoon. Inside this cocoon they metamorphosis into an adult fly which takes at least 3 days. This is the same process a caterpillar goes through as it turns into a butterfly. You can use these minimum transformation days to your advantage.

The pupa is light to dark brown and looks very much like a dark grain of rice or a rodent dropping. This is the stage the Fly Predator takes over killing that immature fly. The pupa is also the stage that flies “hibernate” when the temperature drops below 47℉ allowing them to make it through the winter. Note there are no “baby” flies, when they emerge from the pupa, they are full size. The smaller flies you see are just different species.

Comments
  • Here in Florida we have such a huge problem, and being close to the everglades, its even worse. Do you do the fly control for the barns & the homes on that property? If so do you have where the whole area of your property can be taken care of like 40acres?Is there an underground system that you make of some sort?

  • I am very sad I cannot find the little video introducing fly predators by the animated lady fly predator. I wanted to show it to my husband and I cannot find it again on your website. Can you help me?

  • I am very sad I cannot find the little video introducing fly predators by the animated lady fly predator. I wanted to show it to my husband and I cannot find it again on your website. Can you help me?

  • I have seen very tiny flies, similar in appearance to fly predators, stuck on my stable fly sticky trap.  Are these fly predators or just a small species of fly?  (I have noticed tiny flies which swarm around the fresh manure piles; could it be this type of fly?)  I just don't want to be trapping my fly predators on the sticky traps.  Thanks!

  • Susan W. - You can find the Fly Predator video at here.

    Kristen P.L. - The smaller flies you see stuck to your traps are likely a combination of species of fungus gnats and other small flies, fungus gnats are the most common to swarm fresh manure as you described.  The Fly Predators aren't attracted to traps and do very little flying, so you don't have to worry about them getting stuck in your traps.  

  • do these help with boy flies also?

  • i meant to these help with bot flies?

  • Heather,

    I believe you were asking about whether the Fly Predators work on Bot Flies, and unfortunately, they do not.

    Thank  you,

    Jessica

Spalding Labs would like to thank the following people who contributed to or reviewed this guide:

Dr. Bill ClymerFort Dodge Animal Health, Dr. Roy EllisPrairie Pest Management, Dr. Kevin FloateAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Dr. Robert M. Miller, DVM, Dr. William QuarlesBio-Integral Resource Center. All illustrations 2006 Dr. Roy Ellis.

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