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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Agroecosystem Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #375093

Research Project: Management of Stable Flies to Improve Livestock Production

Location: Agroecosystem Management Research

Title: Methods for surveying stable fly populations.

item Taylor, David
item Harrison, Kyle
item Zhu, Junwei - Jerry

Submitted to: Journal of Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/18/2020
Publication Date: 11/2/2020
Citation: Taylor, D.B., Harrison, K.E., Zhu, J.J. 2020. Methods for surveying stable fly populations.. Journal of Insect Science. 20(5): 17; 1–8.

Interpretive Summary: Stable flies’ painful bites reduce productivity and induce stress in livestock, companion animals, and humans throughout the world. Most immature developmental habitats of stable flies are manmade. Depending upon local animal husbandry and agronomic practices, the dynamics of stable fly populations varies greatly. Standardized sampling methods are needed in order to compare data from different regions and gain a better understanding of stable fly population dynamics. In this manuscript, we present methods for monitoring adult and immature stable fly populations which are broadly applicable for research and management of this pest. Those methods are used in a systems approach to evaluate the size of stable flies emerging from what is believed to be the primary developmental habitat in the central Great Plains, sites where hay is fed to cattle during the winter, and compare that to the size of the general adult population. Results indicate that the flies developing in the winter hay feeding sites are larger than those in the general population. This means that other immature developmental habitats, probably not associated with livestock and that we have yet to identify, are contributing significant numbers of flies to the adult stable fly population. Because most of our management recommendations involve sanitation in livestock facilities, these results may have an impact on those recommendations.

Technical Abstract: Stable flies are among the most important pests of livestock throughout much of the world. Their painful bites reduce productivity and cause pain and suffering. Stable flies are anthropophilic and the dynamics of their populations vary depending upon agricultural and animal husbandry practices. Standardized sampling methods are needed to expand our understanding of the factors controlling stable fly populations and management technologies. Methods used for a long term study of stable fly population dynamics in the central Great Plains are reviewed. Results of a study examining the relative sizes of flies in the general population to that of those developing in substrates associated with livestock production are compared. Flies developing in livestock associated substrates are significantly larger than those in the general population indicating that other types of developmental sites are contributing significant numbers of flies to the general population. Although efforts to identify those sites have not been successful, we speculate that they may be sites with low densities of developing stable flies, but covering large areas such as crop and grass lands. The stable fly surveillance methods discussed can be used to monitor populations for research and management programs.