BEATING THE FLIES THIS SUMMER...

Stable flies bite and drain the blood of humans and animals. They typically feed once a day, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

BEATING THE FLIES THIS SUMMER...

Stable Flies (Stomoxys calcitrans) resemble house flies, but they are slightly smaller, wider, and their abdomens are spotted or striped. Their Latin name translates to "sharp mouth" and "kicking." Stable flies bite and drain the blood of humans and animals. They typically feed once a day, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Females can lay between 10 and 12 batches of eggs during their 20-day lifespan, with each batch containing up to 80 eggs. These eggs are laid in decaying matter, such as old feed, muck heaps, and bedding. Similar to houseflies, the breeding cycle of stable flies depends on the temperature, humidity, and availability of nutrients. Under ideal conditions, with abundant food, optimal moisture levels, and temperatures of 27°C, the life cycle can be completed in two weeks, but it can take up to 78 days. According to research from Texas A&M University, one round bale's leftovers can produce over a million stable flies if left in the field.

People and all kinds of livestock can be infested by "stable flies," but horses are their preferred prey. The legs, stomach, and teat area are the most common places they bite. Stable flies can carry deadly diseases like anthrax and equine infectious anaemia. In horses, a nematode called Habronema muscae can be found in the intestines, and stable flies serve as an intermediary host. Nematodes are relatively uncommon in the UK & Ireland because of their temperate climate, but that could change as temperatures rise. In addition to irritating and distressing horses in the field, fly Bites on the lips, face and legs can cause weeping sores that are painful and difficult to heal.

HOW CAN YOU REDUCE THEM?

  • Avoid turning horses out early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Bringing your horses in during the day will also shield them from the midday sun.

  • Turn-out horses with a high-quality fly rug, preferably one with a section that covers the abdomen.

  • Using an effective insect repellent will prevent flies from biting and feeding on your horses. Some fly sprays, such as citronella, mask the scent of the horses, while others repel the insects. Insecticidal fly sprays are also available, which kill flies that come into contact with the residual that remains on the horse.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE STABLE FLIES?

  • Pick up the manure off your fields on a regular basis.

  • Remove and recycle any old organic matter, such as hay or straw bales.

  • Because horses can transition to 24/7 turnout now that the weather is warmer, now is an excellent time to spring clean their stables – especially if you have been deep-bedding. If the stable is not allowed to air and dry completely, the larvae will not feed.

  • Although it is preferable to remove the breeding ground, don't be concerned if you are unable to do so. It could be an ideal habitat for beneficial organisms such as predators, parasites, and natural competitors of stable flies. These are capable of killing and feeding on stable fly eggs, larvae, and pupae. It is also possible to purchase parasitic wasps on the internet, which will lay their eggs in the stable fly pupae, killing them.

  • If the organic material, i.e. muckheaps, cannot be removed, sprinkling the sites with a larvicide will prevent any larvae present from becoming adults. Larvenol can be sprinkled directly onto muck, and Maggots Granular Larvicide can be sprayed onto muckheaps. In as little as two weeks, you will notice a reduction in stable fly numbers!

  • To catch adult flies, use Digrain Fly Reel Glue Rolls. Hanging fly papers effectively control stable flies because they prefer to rest on vertical surfaces, particularly after feeding. The fly papers contain fly sex pheromones and are coated in an attractive glue.

  • Using an insecticide in areas where stable flies congregate will also aid in population control. These are not the same as insecticidal fly sprays. Perbio Choc is the most powerful ready-to-use oil-based insecticide available to farmers and equestrians. It has a quick knockdown and a three-month residual to keep your horses safe during the summer months.