Treating stable flies in pastures

Jan 02, 2013 by Sandra Avant
Treating stable flies in pastures
ARS researchers have developed several new ways including catnip oil to control stable flies, the most damaging arthropod pests of cattle in the United States.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are developing strategies to help livestock producers control stable flies, the most damaging arthropod pests of cattle in the United States.

An economic impact assessment by scientists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Agroecosystem Management Research Unit (AMRU) in Lincoln, Neb., looked at four sectors of cattle production: dairy, cow/calf, pastured and range stocker, and animals on feed. They found that stable flies cost the U.S. cattle industry more than $2.4 billion each year, due to reduced milk production in , decreased weight gain in , and lowered feed efficiency.

Stable flies are not only a problem in barnyards and stables for which they are named, but in pastures as well. AMRU entomologist David Taylor and his colleagues showed that this is partly due to the use of large bales of hay placed in fields as supplemental feed for cattle during winter. These feeding sites where wasted hay, manure and urine accumulate produce an ideal habit for stable flies.

To find an easy, inexpensive, quick way to control stable flies, Taylor tested cyromazine, an insect growth regulator that interferes with molting and proper development of an insect's . A single application of cyromazine sprinkled on a hay-feeding site reduced the number of emerging adult stable flies by 97 percent. The treatment took 10 minutes, cost $10 per site and was effective for 10 to 20 weeks.

Other potential methods for controlling stable flies include what AMRU entomologist Jerry Zhu calls a "push and pull" strategy. The "push" requires using a repellent to drive flies away from livestock. Treatments contain effective plant-based repellent chemicals like catnip that are low in toxicity. The "pull" involves developing natural attractants or substances associated with the flies' environment to lure and trap them.

So far, Zhu and his team have developed several formulations to reduce stable fly field populations. In collaboration with Microtek Laboratories, Inc., of Dayton, Ohio, the researchers are testing a new granular catnip product that prevents stable flies from laying eggs.

Explore further: Sailing against prevailing winds, spotting big islands: Calculating how the Pacific was settled

More information: Read more about this research in the January 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jan13/flies0113.htm

Related Stories

Shoo fly: Catnip oil repels bloodsucking flies

Feb 02, 2011

Catnip, the plant that attracts domestic cats like an irresistible force, has proven 99 percent effective in repelling the blood-sucking flies that attack horses and cows, causing $2 billion in annual loses to the cattle ...

Shoo, fly! Catnip oil repels bloodsucking flies

Dec 08, 2010

Catnip, the plant that attracts domestic cats like an irresistible force, has proven 99 percent effective in repelling the blood-sucking flies that attack horses and cows, causing $2 billion in annual loses to the cattle ...

Stopping flies before they mature

Nov 26, 2012

An insect growth regulator is one of the latest technologies U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are adding to their arsenal to help fight house flies that spread bacteria to food.

Tiny pest-eating insect fights fruit flies

Dec 06, 2007

Farmers and vineyard owners have a new weapon in their pest management arsenal. A commonly used parasitoid, or parasitic insect that kills its host, has proven to be quite effective in the control of fruit ...

Protecting US troops against sand flies

Nov 19, 2012

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are helping deployed American troops protect themselves against sand flies, which are major pests in Afghanistan, Africa and the Middle East.

Recommended for you

York's anti-malarial plant given Chinese approval

Apr 24, 2015

A new hybrid plant used in anti-malarial drug production, developed by scientists at the University of York's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), is now registered as a new variety in China.

The appeal of being anti-GMO

Apr 24, 2015

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions ...

Micro fingers for arranging single cells

Apr 24, 2015

Functional analysis of a cell, which is the fundamental unit of life, is important for gaining new insights into medical and pharmaceutical fields. For efficiently studying cell functions, it is essential ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.