If the flies seem more pesky than normal this summer, it is probably not your imagination.
Each year can be very different for insect populations, according to Kansas State University Entomologist Jeff Whitworth. Insect populations are controlled 100-percent by their environment, which differs from year to year and from area to area across the state and region.
Whitworth says this means even though south central Kansas swine breeders might experience great fly-producing conditions, an area 50-miles away might not have been as conducive to fly production.
So why does it seem like this summer’s fly population is living near your show barn?
“Most insect species only live one year or less and many fly species can produce a generation in a month or less under ideal environmental conditions,” Whitworth says. “This means there can be three or more generations in a summer, which equates to a lot of flies. Therefore, temperature and moisture play a huge role in how many flies can potentially be produced.”
When conditions are just right, maggots and other insects will grow with a vengeance. Most livestock pest flies produce the maximum number of eggs and maggots in temperatures that humans enjoy, ranging from 65 to 85 degrees, and in damp organic waste piles like manure. These piles are where flies deposit eggs, and the larvae, or maggots, develop.
House and stable flies, both obvious nuisances, are known to transmit bacteria including E.coli and Salmonella. Since outdoor temperatures cannot be avoided, Whitworth says the best way to manage flies is with manure management.
“Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is really important,” he says. “Make sure the confinement facilities are kept clean, and manure is not allowed to accumulate without some kind of management, like spreading it out so it can dry. Maggots do not do nearly as well in dried manure.”
Cleanliness and sanitation are the best management tools, but not always the easiest. There are insecticides registered for fly management in livestock confinement facilities that can help as well. Whitworth says residual sprays that kill adult flies when they land are best and he encourages baits, sticky traps and fly papers. Still, these products work at a higher level if the owner or exhibitor also uses an IPM program.
The number one protocol to prevent flies is to keep the barn clean from manure and to place manure and old bedding piles away from where the animals are housed. Cleanliness is super important, Whitworth says, and don’t think the flies won’t come back if the barn becomes even a little dirty.
“The IPM program must be a continuous process,” Whitworth says. “The flies are very, very prolific and very, very persistent.”