“It is the season of abundance. We could talk about the tomatoes, we could talk about the raspberries, but we’re going to talk about the flies. We are thick with them, as we are this time every year. We have house flies, swarming around the office and around the door to our house, causing me to yell, reflexively, “Close the door, please!” every time a child comes or goes. We have the cruel green-headed flies, that irritate the horses. We have stable flies and face flies and the curious little horn flies that colonize the cows’ backs in flocks and always perch facing in the same direction. All abundant.
So it was the perfect week to host a Cooperative Extension lecture focused on fly control. Ken Wise of NYS Integrated Pest Management led a walk through the pastures. He explained that the green-headed biting flies – including horse flies and deer flies – will buzz a pasture, looking for a dark anomalous shape. Then they will fly low around the anomaly, pull up to bite, and fly back out. Pesticides are not very effective on them, because they don’t spend much time on the host, and because they, like most types of flies, have developed strong resistance to the chemicals in the conventional arsenal.
Traps that exploit fly vulnerabilities are more effective. The green-headed fly trap Ken showed the group was a dark anomalous shape that caught the flies in a tray of soapy water. The stable fly traps use that fly’s favorite color – blue – to attract and entrap them. On large farms, face flies and horn flies are vacuumed from the animals as they come in to milk.
Ken emphasized that flies breed in damp organic material like old round bales, cool compost, and fresh manure. But they are very mobile animals, so local control of breeding areas does not necessarily mean we’d see our fly populations plunge…” [Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.]
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