Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fly Control

One of the few positives of not getting much rain is that the lack of moisture has meant far fewer flies. The exception to this appears to be the standard house flies. We've had way more of those than we typically see, apparently they thrive in dry weather. However, every other type of fly needs moisture so we've not had a lot of stable flies this year. Our usual fly control strategy involves a combination of big fly traps, sticky fly traps designed for attracting biting flies, and fly predators.  

The fly predators are on automatic delivery and come twice per month starting in mid March and continuing through mid November. I find that people often misunderstand how fly predators work. They don't fly around tackling existing flies and killing them. The fly predators do nothing for the existing flies you see flying around. Fly predators destroy future generations of flies by killing them in their immature pupa stage. Fly predators are tiny and you never realize they're present. They also aren't very good fliers themselves so it is important that you put your fly predators out within 150 feet of pest fly breeding areas. I scatter them on all of our compost piles and in other traffic areas that tend to collect manure. A couple of times per month I hike all over the farm, going through each pasture spreading the fly predators. 

For the existing flies you see flying around you need fly traps. Each year I add to our collection of the large, permanent traps. Jason detests assembling them and lugging them around to place them out in the pastures.  However they do trap flies and they are always on the job. Currently we have eight of the large fly traps. Eventually I would like to have 14, two for each pasture. Every year when we put the big fly traps out the horses are convinced aliens have landed in their pastures despite the fact that they see these traps every, single year. Usually the fun of spooking at them wears off after a couple of hours. 

Jason setting up one of the fly traps

Lotus, Lofty and Faune staring at the fly trap in their pasture

Miel staring down the fly trap in his pasture

Lofty demonstrating the stop and stare while watching Jason put up the fly trap in his pasture

Cocomo studying the alien fly trap in his pasture

Cisco intently studying the fly trap in his pasture

Remmy giving the fly trap in his pasture a good stare

I also use disposable traps as well. Until this year I had only used the Starbar Bite Free disposable trap. It is a clear plastic sticky trap that is designed to attract, and stick, biting flies. Typically I hang these in multiple locations on the fences and sometimes also hang them on the edge of the wooded areas in the pastures where the horses like to hang out. If they are in a good location where they have good sight lines and get a lot of sun they do a very good job of attracting flies.  If they are in an area that doesn't have good sight lines or too much shade they will still trap some flies but not nearly as many. Approximately every 4 to 6 weeks I replace the old traps that are covered in flies with new traps. 

The Starbar bite free trap is a sticky trap designed to attract stable flies and other biting flies


This year I ended up adding a new type of disposable trap to the line-up. As I mentioned above the numbers of biting flies are way down thanks to no rain, but the number of common house flies was a lot higher than normal. Apparently they like dry weather. I've never felt the need to try and specifically trap these flies before so this is my first time using these traps. The best way to trap these flies is with odor traps. These flies go by smell and not by sight like most biting flies. These traps come with a packet of stinky bait that automatically dissolves when you add water to the trap. 

I have some of these traps hung in the sun and some in the shade. As with everything that involves real estate, location is everything with these traps. I haven't yet figured out the key to the location though. Some of these traps that I've placed in shade have attracted flies like crazy and others have not. Some that I have placed in the sun have attracted flies like crazy and others have not. I haven't been able to discern a pattern as to what makes the ideal location for these traps. However, when you do place them in a location that the flies approve of they trap house flies like crazy. I replace these every few weeks as well. 

the house fly disposable trap I've been using; it comes with stinky bait and you add water

when you have them in the right location they trap house flies like crazy

if they aren't in the right location they still trap a few flies but nothing compared to what they trap in the "good" locations; I've yet to discern exactly what makes a location good or bad

If Jason is the gravel addict in the family I guess I am the fly trap addict. Jason wants all the gravel. I want all of the fly traps. I gave up on fly sprays years ago. They're fine for short periods such as for riding or when the farrier is working on your horse, but after about 30 minutes or so I find them useless. I'm far better off preventing as many flies as I can from reproducing. Every year we seem to make a little more of a dent in the fly population. It's impossible to completely eradicate them but that it still my goal, I might as well aim high. 

If you have a type of fly trap you really like, be it permanent or disposable, I'd love to hear about them from you. 

_______________________________

Moe

Trigger

Johnny and Rocky

Cino, Fabrizzio and Merlin

Gus and Roho

Thomas and Levendi

Elfin and Rip

Walden

Baner

Norman, MyLight, Calimba and Cinnamon

Traveller and Cuffie

3 comments:

EvenSong said...

This is the third year that I've used the predators, and I think they've made a difference, though composting my manure has always kept flys down right off the bat. With more horses this year, I'm also trying the trap and toss method, but I guess they were back ordered, because they just came this month, so I haven't had a chance to judge their capabilities.

Kate said...

Very good info - thanks!

lytha said...

I've seen people paint stripes on horses, and heard that flies prefer darker colored horses. I wish I knew the answer. As I watch the herd across the street, I see that the chestnut is pestered the most by flies. Or, it could be that she is simply the most sensitive and reacts more. I don't know. What have you observed? My horse isn't bothered too much, but he has blood in his tail lately.