Spring time plus livestock equals flies. This is the first spring that we have had our alpacas here on the farm. We KNOW what is about to happen because we have seen the flies at the farms of our friends. Already there are the early flies but the massive invasion is just around the corner.   So…what to do? Well, the first thing was to put up some sticky traps in the barn but research is in order. And this is exactly what I have decided to do.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of fly species…almost 120,000 that are known. But my concern is with about 10, maybe 15 species that are present here at Two Crows Farm and probably at your home or farm and the surrounding area.

Know your enemy

For ease of discussion, I’m going to separate the flies into two groups…biting and non biting…because these two groups of flies demand different strategies of combat and strategy which can only be formulated by using the characteristics of each group against that specific group. Non biting flies (house flies, blow flies, face flies, eye gnats, fungus gnats, fruit flies, sewer flies, humpback flies…there are more) breed in filth and are attracted by scents…we humans think they are stinky scents…to each his own.

Let me tell you a little bit about the non biting (filth) flies. The lifestyle of filth flies spread bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. Filth flies often lay their eggs in nasty places…garbage, rotting organic matter and manure and then they contaminate human foods and food preparation surfaces by landing on them. But that’s not all…when feeding, house flies regurgitate their stomach contents onto food to liquefy it before ingesting it…”Hey that’s MY potato salad!! Dirty feet is one thing, but tossing up too!!” They may also contaminate our stuff by crapping on it. So…non biting flies…dirty feet and body, puking before eating and crapping where ever the notion occurs to them. Nasty…nasty and vial.

Now…the biting flies. Biting flies are the terror of the neighborhood. They (horse flies..green heads, bull flies, yellow flies…deer flies, stable flies, black flies, biting midges) are aggressive and their bites hurt. They also carry and transmit diseases. Biting flies hunt by eyesight…they are looking for sources of blood. Non biting flies lay their eggs in moist vegetation, moist soil…they are looking for places that can support the larvae as they feed on organic matter.

So, the non biting flies are fairly easy to lure to a trap of some kind. Sticky traps and baited screen traps are common…buy ‘em or make ‘em…they are simple and cheap. I’ll research, try out various types and report my results.

The biting flies are harder to out fox…but just a little bit…they’re flies after all…not too brainy. The trick is to provide a moving target that the flies think is a blood source and then trap ‘em. The HORSE PAL is a great example of the motion and trap technique. There are other kinds of biting fly traps and most of them employ the motion and trap…or the attraction to color and light (dark blue and white) and trap… I’ll also research these also and report my findings.

The key, I think, to managing fly problems is one of active rather than reactive effort.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

We win first by meeting the fly threat while it is still a threat…before the enemy gains the strength of numbers. Every fly killed early in the season suppresses the exponential expansion of the enemy’s troops. Flies live for about 30 days or so, depending on the species and each female can lay more than 500 eggs. The eggs hatch quickly and the larvae develop into flies very quickly…in just a few days. During warm weather and ideal conditions, a fly can produce a family generation in less than two weeks. Do the math….exponential…remember that the breedings will produce exponential numbers. Wrap your head around this… “Scientists have calculated that a pair of flies beginning reproduction in April may be progenitors, under optiminal conditions and if all were to live, of 191,010,000,000,000,000,000 flies by August.” (http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/flies/house_fly.htm) Many methods of fly control can and should be employed simultaneously. But, I do not use nor do I advocate using chemical poisons. They are not effective and they are damaging to our environment.

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Most fly warfare methods are based on deception…tricking the flies into self destruction. Fly traps are based on this strategy. But one of the most effective methods of fighting flies is the use of fly parasites. Fly parasites are gnat-sized, nocturnal, burrowing wasps which do not bite, sting, or harm humans or animals. They seek out fly pupae and kill them by host feeding and parasitization…depositing their eggs into the live fly pupae…the stage between larvae and adult flies. The fly parasites reproduce and expand their domain. Flies have no protection against these little wasps. Fly parasites can be ordered from Aarbico Organics.

Speed is the essence of war

Be swift and be un-relentless in your battle with the flies. Stay ahead of them and do not assume victory.

I’ll be back with more information and fly control product evaluations. I’m off to war and I intend to win.