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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2006 Annual Report

1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?
The stable fly has long been recognized as a serious pest of confined cattle. This blood feeding fly annoys the animals causing them to bunch together leading to heat stress and reduced feed intake. Reduced weight gain due to stable fly activity costs the confined cattle industry over $400 million each year. Changes in animal husbandry over the last 20 to 30 years has increased stable fly impact on range and pasture cattle, doubling the economic impact of this pest to nearly one billion dollars per year. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association recognizes the seriousness of this pest and the importance of continued research.

Although stable flies have been considered a serious pest of livestock, humans and pets for over 100 years, the biology of this insect is poorly understood and they continually adapt to changing manure and feed management practices. This project will develop fundamental knowledge on the biology of stable flies in the upper Great Plains with the primary goal of determining the sources of pestiferous stable fly populations in the pasture environment. Specific areas of investigation will include.
1)genetic characterization of stable fly populations to assist in assessing levels of migration;.
2)identification and characterization of stable fly larval developmental sites and.
3)determination of the relative contributions of overwintering and migration to the development of stable fly populations. This knowledge will be used to develop novel methods of control by exploiting weaknesses in their biology.

Fifty percent of this project is devoted to addressing Component 2 (Detection and Surveillance Technology) and 50% addresses Component 3 (Biology, Physiology and Vector-Pathogen Interaction) of NP 104, “Veterinary, Medical and Urban Entomology”. We seek to better understand the biology of the stable fly in order to develop more effective methods to reduce their populations, thereby controlling and limiting their economic impact on the livestock industry.

2.List by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress)
Year 1 (FY 2005)

1. Collect stable flies from populations across North America for genetic analysis.

2. Develop Microsatellite and Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) markers and a complimentary DNA (cDNA) library.

3. Initiate survey of potential stable fly breeding habitats in eastern Nebraska and develop a qualitative and quantitative sampling protocol.

4. Initiate year round monitoring of adult stable fly populations.

5. Evaluate adult dispersal by conducting a mark-recapture study.

6. Survey potential overwintering sites and quantify their contribution to spring population with emergence traps.

Year 2 (FY 2006)

1. Develop Single Stranded Conformation Polymorphism (SSCP) markers.

2. Complete the initial genetic screen of geographic stable fly populations and write a manuscript.

3. Quantitatively and qualitatively sample primary larval habitats and associated parasites and predators weekly and survey for secondary larval habitats.

4. Continue monitoring adult stable flies throughout the year.

5. Quantify physical characteristics of positive natural larval overwintering sites and monitor adult populations with emergence traps in the spring.

6. Construct artificial overwintering sites to monitor the temperature and humidity. Use emergence traps to monitor adult flies in the spring.

Year 3 (FY 2007)

1. Initiate nuclear activation analysis to develop chemical fingerprints of adult stable fly populations.

2. Initiate screen of temporal stable fly populations.

3. Continue year 2 weekly quantitative and qualitative sampling of primary habitats to monitor SF production, parasites and predators

4. Extend the geographical survey area for larval habitats in order to include variation in livestock husbandry practices.

5. Continue to quantify physical characteristics of positive larval overwintering sites.

6. Initiate laboratory studies on extending larval developmental times.

7. Initiate monitoring seasonal variation in gene frequencies.

Year 4 (FY 2008) 1. Initiate mass spectrometer analysis of adult stable fly populations to develop chemical fingerprints of adult stable fly populations.

2. Continue genetic analysis of geographic and temporal stable fly populations.

3. Continue weekly quantitative and qualitative sampling of primary larval habitats, parasites and predators.

4. Continue to extend the geographical survey area for larval habitats.

5. Continue quantification of physical characteristics of positive larval overwintering sites.

6. Develop a larval growth model using overwintering parameters.

7. Survey local seasonal SF populations for variations in chemical analysis, using nuclear activation and mass spectrometry.

Year 5 (FY 2009) 1. Complete genetic analysis of geographic and temporal stable fly populations

2. Complete chemical fingerprint analysis of stable fly populations

3. Complete qualitative and quantitative studies of larval habitats studies and write a manuscript.

4 Use climatic variables to develop an adult population model and write a manuscript.

5. Continue survey of local seasonal adult stable fly populations for variations in chemical analysis

4a.List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006.
Stable Fly Population Dynamics: Models based upon temperature and precipitation, from a five-year study of seasonal dynamics of the stable fly populations in eastern Nebraska, were developed to determine the effects of those variables on population levels and to predict population trends for control efforts. We found 3 significant factors affecting stable fly development. Temperature is the most important factor in predicting stable fly population levels. Precipitation has an effect on the populations especially during mid-summer. Lower temperatures during the previous winter (November – February) were associated with higher population peaks.

4b.List other significant research accomplishment(s), if any.
Efficiency of Six Stable Fly Traps: Six different traps for sampling and locally controlling stable flies were compared. No-Zap traps produced by Farnam Companies, Inc. collected almost twice as many flies as the standard Olson and Broce traps. The Olson and Broce traps are constructed of a specific type of fiberglass referred to as Alsynite. Alsynite traps have been the standard for stable fly research and control for over 30 years; however, the reason stable flies are attracted to Alsynite remains unclear. The No-Zap trap, which is not made of Alsynite, offers a commercial alternative for stable fly research and control. In addition, the finding of a second material equally or more attractive to stable flies than Alsynite may help us determine the mechanism of attraction and develop better stable fly traps.

4c.List significant activities that support special target populations.

4d.Progress report.

5.Describe the major accomplishments to date and their predicted or actual impact.
The Midwest Livestock Insect Research Laboratory (MLIRU) is the only laboratory in the United States with stable flies as their primary responsibility and has been for over 20 years. In 1993, 1995 and again in 2001, the MLIRU published substantial reviews on stable fly biology and control. The unit is actively involved in Regional and Interstate projects on stable fly Integrated Pest Management (S-1005 and previously S-274) and has provided leadership to these projects.

Historically, stable flies were considered to be primarily pests of confined animals with their larval developmental sites associated with confined animal or barnyard situations. The MLIRU developed strategies to effectively control stable flies in the confined animal environment primarily based upon sanitation. Subsequently, the MLIRU was among the first to see the transition of stable flies from barnyard to pasture pests. In collaboration with scientists from the University of Nebraska and Kansas State University, we identified the use of large round hay bales in pastures for winter feeding as the primary factor for the increase of stable flies in the pasture environment. These large round bale feeding sites have effectively moved the barnyard environment into the pastures. The current project will concentrate on determining the biology of stable flies in pastures to support the development of equally effective management strategies reducing stable fly impact on pastured livestock.

6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?

7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).

Taylor, D.B., R. Moon, A. Broce, J. B. Campbell and P. J. Moon. December 12-17, 2005. Dispersal of Stable Flies from Larval Habitats. Oral Presentation. Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Taylor, D.B. December 12-17, 2005. Highlights of Veterinary Entomology. Oral Presentation. Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Review Publications
Taylor, D.B., Berkebile, D.R. 2006. Comparative efficiency of six stable fly (Diptera: Muscidae) traps. Journal of Economic Entomology. 99(4): 1415-1419. Available:

Taylor, D.B., Moon, R., Gibson, G., Szalanski, A. 2006. Genetic and morphological comparisons of new and old world populations of spalangia species (hymenoptera: pteromalidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 99(5): 799-808. Available:

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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