Effective Fly Control: Knowing the Different Types of Flies

Dr. Erika Nagorske

Jun 20, 2023

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

Utilizing feed additives for your fly control program is one step in a multifaceted strategy along with understanding ways to triage your cattle from flies

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:

  • House Flies

  • Stable Flies

  • Horn Flies

  • Face Flies

House flies

The most common type of fly in the United States, house flies are a common pest to humans and affect all types of livestock. Often found in warm areas out of the wind, they typically eat garbage, manure, animal carcasses, human food and livestock feed. 

House flies breed on any organic matter with 40-70% moisture, including 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. The house fly life cycle is typically 15-30 days.

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 plan of action is to control sanitation around livestock, larva control, baiting, and sprays. Starbar® Fly Terminator® Pro Fly Trap With Attractant  is an effective product to help control house flies.

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.

Permethrin SFR, which dilutes with water or oil, is a particularly effective spray to help eliminate stable flies. It is labeled for use on lawns, landscapes, around homes and barns for a very broad spectrum of insects beyond flies.

Similar to getting rid of house flies, prevent stable 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 by biting their backs. They’re rarely found inside of buildings, instead preferring to rest on vegetation and breed in fresh, undisturbed manure.

Living only 10-20 days, horn flies have a shorter life span compared to other fly types.

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

The most effective way to deal with horn flies is through the use of pour-ons and IGR feed additives containing active ingredients such as methoprene and diflubenzuron.

ClariFly® Larvicide Premix 0.67% contains diflubenzuron and is available on the FBN® Animal Health Store.Dominator® Ear Tags is another helpful product to consider. While it doesn’t contain methoprene or diflubenzuron, it will provide up to five months of control of horn flies (including synthetic pyrethroid-resistant horn flies) and can be used on calves of any age.

Face Flies

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

Similar to horn flies, face flies 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 like Tempo® 1% Dust to eliminate face flies. 

Swat Away the Enemy

Don’t wait until flies become a problem to take action.

Find a wide range of fly control products, including sprays, ear tags, baits and traps and  feed additives like garlic, on the FBN Animal Health Store.


  1. https://livestockvetento.tamu.edu/insectspests/house-fly/

  2. https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/project/?accnNo=427580

  3. https://beef.unl.edu/managing-stable-flies-pastured-cattle

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Dr. Erika Nagorske

Jun 20, 2023

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