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Effective Fly Control: Knowing the Different Types of Flies

Now that the weather is warming up and fly season is underway, part of a solid fly control program is understanding the different types of flies that affect your animals.

There are four major types of flies that can wreak havoc on your livestock. Knowing a little bit about each type of fly will help you create an effective plan of action to deal with them.

As we’ve already discussed, utilizing feed additives for your fly control program is one step in a multifaceted strategy.

Let’s get to know the enemy.

House flies

House flies are the most common type of fly in the United States and are a common pest to humans and animals alike. House flies affect all types of livestock.

They typically eat garbage, manure, animal carcasses, human food, and livestock feed. You’ll find them in warm areas out of the wind.

The house fly life cycle is typically 15-30 days and they breed on any organic matter with 40-70% moisture - fresh manure, spilled liquid, feed, bedding, and decaying vegetation. In other words, anywhere that is moist. House fly larvae (aka maggots) look like small grains of rice.

While house flies are known to transmit pathogens to humans, they generally aren’t harmful to livestock. They are more of a nuisance and will aggravate animals more than anything.

However, it’s still worth ensuring they are controlled to prevent undue stress on your animals.

When it’s time to eradicate house flies, your key plans of action are to control sanitation around livestock, larva control, baiting, and sprays.

Stable flies

Stable flies have a painful bite and affect all types of livestock by feeding on their blood. They tend to feed on the legs of cattle.

Stable flies have a life cycle of about 21-30 days. They rest in vegetation and breed on wet straw, spilled feed, and decaying vegetation. Surprisingly, stable flies do not breed in manure.

Stable fly bites are stressful to cattle and can cause anemia, decreased weight gain, and decreased milk production. According to the USDA, stable flies cost producers more than $2 billion per year in lost production.

Your best option to get rid of stable flies is similar to house flies by first cleaning and sanitizing around your animals.

Larva control and fly traps are an effective method of dealing with stable flies as well.

However, since stable flies do not breed in manure, feed additives such as insect growth regulators (IGR) would not be an effective course of action.

Horn flies

Horn flies are nasty little pests that feed on the blood of pasture cattle. They’re rarely found inside of buildings and feed on the back of cattle.

They prefer to rest on vegetation and breed in fresh, undisturbed manure. Horn flies have a shorter life span of only 10-20 days.

Horn flies create serious issues for cattle due to the painful bites they deliver. They can decrease weight gain in beef cattle, loss of milk production in dairy cows, and damage to cattle hides.

But how do you get rid of them?

The most effective way to deal with them is with pour-ons and IGR feed additives containing active ingredients such as methoprene and diflubenzuron.

Face flies

Like horn flies, face flies affect pasture cattle and are usually not seen inside of buildings. They feed on mucus secretions around the eyes, nostrils, and mouth of cattle.

Similar to horn flies, they rest in vegetation and breed in fresh, undisturbed manure. They live for about 15-25 days.

While face flies don’t bite, they can cause cattle to reduce food consumption leading to less milk and weight production. They can also carry disease and cause other health issues for cattle.

Use fly tags and feedthrough IGR additives to eliminate face flies.

Swat away the enemy

Now that you know a little bit more about the most common types of flies, you’ll be able to better identify how to deal with them.

Your first step is to ensure manure and spilled feed is managed regularly and that flies do not have a place to breed.

Don’t wait until flies become a problem, get started now with FBN® fly control products.


The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your animals.


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