Ag notes: Frequent rain causes breeding haven for flies

July 14, 2004|JERRY LITTLE

Most of Kentucky has seen frequent rainfall over the past few months, creating a breeding haven for flies. Flies often plague livestock operations. "The longer breeding sites stay moist, the more flies they can produce."

House flies and stable flies breed in wet mixtures of manure and spilled feed around confinement areas or forage racks, while face flies and horn flies use fresh deposits of cow manure in pastures.

Usually by mid-summer there is less humidity and air movement and more sunlight which helps dry sites and makes them less suitable for breeding. However, our steady parade of rains can play havoc with even the best manure management and fly control plans.

"Sanitation and manure management around confinement areas is the key to breaking fly life cycles, in the long run, no reasonable amount of insecticide can overcome the breeding potential of optimum sites." Here are some tips to help combat fly problems. Check for low spots around feeding and loafing areas where pooled water and urine can keep feed, bedding, and manure wet and try to fill them or create a ditch so water can move away quickly after a rain.


It's also important to inspect watering devices frequently for sticking floats or leaks and grade around these spots so that water will be directed away, keep areas next to feed bins and feeding aprons as clear of waste accumulations as possible.

Two or three scoop shovels of organic matter can produce several hundred flies very quickly."

If manure is stored for later disposal, producers should keep it stacked and packed and maintain steep side slopes so that water drains off as much as possible. Keep manure lagoons agitated so no crust is allowed to form - these crusts become fly breeding areas. Use screens and sticky fly traps around entrances to keep flies out of milk rooms and swine buildings. Check self-applications devices like back-rubbers and dust bags frequently. Wet dust will clump in bags and not get dispersed on the animals, and spent oilers need to be recharged.

Although not a satisfactory long-term solution, insecticides can be important tools to temporarily reduce or knock back fly problems until sanitation problems can be addressed.

Residual sprays can be applied to places where flies rest. "These surfaces can be identified by the accumulation of fly specks. Spray them to runoff but be careful to protect feed and water from contamination. Wettable powder (WP) formulations may provide longer residue on surfaces than emulsifiable concentrate (EC) formulations."

Foggers or space sprays with quick knockdown insecticides (pyrethrins) can kill large numbers of flies but these have to be applied at regular intervals (usually 2 to 3 days).

In some situations, fly baits can be scattered to kill adults. Baits are likely to be more effective if there are not many competing food sites to attract flies.

There are some larvicides/insecticides that can be applied directly to breeding sites to kill maggots. Generally, insecticides will break-down fairly rapidly in manure but direct contact with larvae can help to reduce fly production.

Tough year

The banker took his ledger out, the rancher took a seat.

"Let's see, I lent you 20 thou for cattle, corn and wheat. Let's talk about your cattle first."

The rancher's face looked pained. "You know how bad the market's been. Lost 15," he explained.

The banker was confused. "Fifteen what! Fifteen cents a pound? Fifteen died of thirst?"

"Nope. Fifteen thousand dollars lost, but, hey, it could be worse."

The banker swallowed hard then asked, "Well, what about your grain?"

"Well," says the farmer, "The hoppers ate up all my wheat, the sweet corn needed rain, the pigs got sick, and my son got drunk and joined the Moonies' Church! I figger I'm down forty thou but, hey, it could be worse!"

"Whataya mean, 'It could be worse!' That ain't even funny," cried the banker.

The rancher shrugged and then replied, "Could'a been my money."

For more information, contact your Boyle County Extension Service. Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

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