Flies and various other insects, such as horseflies, mosquitoes, wasps, mites or ants can become not only annoying and highly unpleasant, but also dangerous in the stable of horses, farm animals or animal stables in general. In particular, stable flies of various species are not uncommon in the hostels of animals and, due to their rapid, multiple reproduction, can become a nasty plague of almost biblical proportions if one remains inactive. Stable flies not only cause annoying discomfort to animals, but also transmit and/or cause disease. However, there are strategies, ways and means to successfully combat harmful insects, to thoroughly put an end to them and to ensure a healthy, hygienic, pleasant and peaceful stable life for your animals.
Problems and dangers caused by stable flies and other insects
Insects in the barn are far worse than just annoying troublemakers, especially for the animals, but also for humans. First and foremost are flies, which are not only a true recurring nuisance, but also a serious hazard.
Stable flies cause massive restlessness, nervousness, discomfort, pain and an impairment of the animals’ performance. In a massive onslaught or particularly biting, flies can also cause tremendous panic among barn animals. Stinging flies, such as the seine fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) or horse flies (Tabanidae), not only bite or sting the animals most unpleasantly, but also target their blood. Some species of flies, such as warble flies (Oestridae), use ungulates, such as horses, cows, or goats, as parasitic hosts, causing not only injuries but also hypodermosis due to maggot infestation.
Flies can not only cause injury and disease, but also transmit harmful pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other germs. Common infections caused by flies include:
- Pasteurellosis (septicemia, bacterial infection of the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal infection)
- Foot-and-mouth disease
- Swine fever
- Salmonella enteritis
- Escherichia coli infections
- Coccidiosis (protozoan infection caused by animal protozoa)
- Pseudowut (Aujeszky’s disease caused by Aujeszky’s virus)
- Dysentery/Ruhr (bacterial infection of the colon)
- Lyme disease
- Worm infections
A number of other uninvited visitors and pests may appear in an animal house that are or can be dangerous as well, such as mosquitoes, wasps, hornets. Ants, lice, ticks, or mites (arachnids), such as the red bird mite in chicken coops.
Flies in the barn – species, characteristics and reproduction.
It is always good to know your enemy. This is also true for insects and especially for flies in the barn. Not all flies are the same. The fly species can be relevant for assessing the danger, the spread and also for the type and active substances of the agents to ensure successful control.
Common fly species
When it comes to hygienic pests, it is flies that are among the greatest nuisances and dangers in the barn. There are some species that are conspicuously common.
Common house fly (Musca domestica)
It is the most widespread species among the flies worldwide – the common house fly or the large house fly with a gray to black body. Since it mainly likes to live in animal stables, it is also commonly referred to as the “stable fly”. It belongs to the true fly family (Muscidae) and occupies a length of 4 to 8 millimeters in the adult stage of its development, with females being larger than males.
An adult female can lay up to 800 pearly white eggs, which hatch particularly in dung, excrement, compost, or decaying organic matter. After about 10 hours, the larvae hatch, feeding on the substances on which they hatched. After one week, development to the adult fly is complete. After three days, the next oviposition can take place from a female. The life expectancy of a house fly is up to 6 weeks. The house fly is not a biting fly, but it is a vector of numerous putrefactive and pathogenic agents.
Fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster)
The fruit fly is also known as the vinegar fly. With a length of 2 to 3 mm, it has a yellow-brown body coloration and red eyes. The females prefer to lay their eggs in decaying plant debris and rotting, fermenting fruits. The fruit fly reproduces throughout the year if suitably warm environmental conditions prevail. It is considered a rather troublesome insect.
Common housefly (Stomoxys calcitrans)
Not dissimilar to the house fly, the seine fly, however, has a conspicuous stinging proboscis that is visible even to the naked eye. Like the house fly, the Stomoxys calcitrans fly is a member of the Muscidae family (true flies) and grows to a similar size, 6 to 7 mm in length when fully grown. A female produces 600 to 800 eggs, which are deposited in animal feces or decaying organic material for incubation. Seiners are dangerous bloodsuckers, the females as well as the males. The sucking process takes several minutes. The bite of this fly species is very painful. Horses and farm animals are particularly affected. This fly species can transmit dangerous diseases. In horses, it can cause a viral infection called equine infectious anemia (contagious anemia of equids).
The horsefly family belongs to the blood-sucking flies, although in most of the different species only the females bite. Species of horseflies include, for example, the horsefly ( Tabanus sudeticus), the cattle horsefly (Tabanus bovinus), or the common cattle horsefly (Tabanus bromius). The bites are painful and can cause animals to panic. Horseflies are also vectors of a number of pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi) and are dangerous to humans and animals.
Dassel flies are medium-sized, fur-like, densely hairy flies that occur in several species. These flies are particularly dangerous because of their maggots, which can cause a great deal of damage as “endoparasites”. Especially in hoofed animals, such as horses. Dassel flies drop their eggs in flight, which allows them to get onto their host and enter the interior, for example, via the tongue and mouth of an animal. Already on their way to the stomach as the main destination, they can cause various severe damages to the animal. Clinging to the stomach lining in a blood-sucking manner, the warble larvae develop their final stage with pupation and are finally excreted in the feces. The pupa develops into the insect. Hypodermosis as an animal disease is caused in ungulates primarily by skin damselflies (Hypoderminae).
Measures of successful control of stable flies
Stable flies can multiply and spread exponentially in masses of millions in a year. Flies are impossible to miss, especially in large numbers. They buzz around the barn, sticking to the animals, walls and equipment. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The visible adult flies account for only about 15% of the actual infestation.
The real problem lies in the eggs, larvae and pupae hidden in the barn, which account for 85%. For successful control and containment of the infestation, it is therefore necessary to tackle the problem from the ground up. It is not enough to capture and kill only the visible adult flies, but above all to thoroughly eliminate their breeding offspring in the larval or even egg stage.
Where are the breeding sites of flies in the barn?
Flies prefer a moist, warm climate and a nutritious environment for laying and hatching their eggs and larvae. Since most flies feed on excrement and decaying organic matter, typical breeding sites include manure, dung, feed residues and slurry (especially floating layers on slurry channels). Furthermore, moist areas with food offerings under feed troughs, waterers, and pen partitions are also popular with flies.
When is the best time to control flies?
For thorough, successful control of flies in the barn, as well as for the well-being of the animals, regular, continuous hygienic barn cleaning is necessary. A seasonal basic cleaning in terms of fly control in the stable should in any case take place at the end of winter or at the beginning of spring. Ideal times to control flies with appropriate agents are during their active feeding period. This would be especially in the morning at sunrise between 6 and 9 o’clock or in the evening after sunset.
What measures are necessary for successful fly control?
First and foremost, attention should be paid to cleanliness and hygiene in the barn. This applies, for example, to mucking out, the treatment of slurry areas, the thorough removal of feed residues and the cleaning of equipment. In order not to offer flies the slightest breeding place and breeding ground, even the smallest contaminated corners, crevices, boxes or other cavities with feed residues, litter, manure residues, manure residues or other organic substances should be extremely meticulously observed.
Thorough, regular or continuous ventilation of the barn will also greatly help to drive flies away or prevent them from being invited in the first place. Flies dislike drafts and well-ventilated spaces altogether. In addition, good ventilation has a decisive positive influence on the climate and the moisture balance in the barn, which in turn effectively affects the living and environmental conditions for the flies including brood.
Flies can be eliminated with various pesticides. These are differentiated, among other things, according to the stages of development. For adult flies, there are the so-called “adulticides”. These agents kill flies quickly by interfering with the central nervous system of these adult insects. Here it is important to ensure a regular change of active ingredient (different product), otherwise flies can become resistant or immune to an active ingredient due to the rapid generational change. For the elimination of fly larvae, “larvicides” are used. These act on the molting of fly larvae between their various developmental stages, killing the larvae before they hatch.
Various means of controlling stable flies and insects.
Flies can be effectively controlled in a wide variety of ways and with different agents and methods. In terms of type and application, the following are distinguished, among others:
Baits for adult flies and other insects.
chemical fly and insect control agents and various special agents
spreading and spraying agents
electric fly control (for example with electric fly killers)
stable fly catcher tape and stable fly rolls
Adult flies can also be easily seduced and baited. In addition to chemical fly and insect killers, there are alternative fly and insect traps with various attractants, such as sticky traps, grub baits or scatter baits. Spreading baits are also a complementary effective way to stop a fly infestation. This is a bait product that is brushed onto specific areas in the barn. Some control agents act not only on flies, but also on other unpleasant or dangerous insects.
Completely without chemicals or even various tempting attractants, electric insect control is also a very effective and proven method of controlling flies. Just like the well-known moth, flies are irresistibly attracted to light. As a source of light, electric insect killers attract the flies, bringing them into contact with an electrically charged metal grid that is live. The electric current eventually kills the adult flies instantly, which are collected in an integrated tray. Electric insect control devices using ultrasonic technology are also an alternative, as this has a harmful effect on the fly’s nervous system and drives them away.
Depending on the type and extent of fly infestation, it may be useful and effective to use different control methods and agents in combination. However, it is always important to find and eliminate the breeding and breeding sites of flies first and foremost.
Conclusion & tips for the control of stable flies and co.
Flies in the stable or generally in the vicinity of animals are almost unavoidable, because they are everywhere and they appear again and again. Some representatives are truly vicious and dangerous. However, a strong, nasty infestation or even a devastating plague in the stable can very well be prevented and fought just as successfully.
Regular, comprehensive stable cleaning, good stable hygiene and optimally ventilated stable climate.
Start control and prevention of flies in the barn at the beginning of spring
Focus control on brood and breeding sites (fly larvae, maggots and eggs)
Search for and find breeding sites: Manure, feed residues, troughs, waterers, litter, slurry, plants with residues
Pay attention to changes in active ingredients of possible agents for adult flies
Use combined means and methods of fly and pest control
Horses, livestock or hobby animal husbandry, with attentive, thorough, preventative fly and insect control you will support the well-being and health of your animals.
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