Q: What is Ecological Fly Control and how does it work?
A: Ecological Fly Control is the main portion of a very effective fly control system known as “Integrated Fly Control”. Integrated Fly Control is comprised of three interrelated components:
Q: What are fly parasites?
A: Fly parasites are a small naturally occurring insect, which when distributed in fly breeding areas, provide a remarkably effective level of fly control. These beneficial insects, marketed under various trade names, use the fly as a host in their reproductive cycle and in reproducing, prevent the fly from doing so. Fly parasites lay their eggs inside the immature stage of the fly in the breeding site and the fly becomes food for their young.
Q: Are there different types of fly parasites?
A: Yes. The Source supplies a premium mix of several parasite species. We have opted to supply this mix of species based on research from the USDA and independent researchers. We now market these fly parasites under the registered trade-name FlyRaptors. This special mix provides a hardy, aggressive and numerous population of parasites.
Q: Wouldn’t I be trading one bothersome insect for another?
A: No. The fly parasites are a very discrete means of controlling a fly problem. They are very small, are not attracted to livestock or humans and are active mostly at night.
Q: How does a person use fly parasites?
A: The fly parasites are packed in wood shavings in a paper bag that is shipped in a cardboard box. It is recommended that the parasites be taken out of the box but kept in the closed paper bag at approximately 70 degrees until the hatch starts to occur. The parasites, when hatching, can be seen crawling above and around the packing material when the bag is held up to a light or window. In warm conditions, the hatch can be occurring when the shipment is received. In colder conditions, it may take as much as a week or more for the hatch to start. Once the hatch is starting, the material simply needs to be sprinkled sparingly around all areas where there is manure, damp soil, damp bedding or other damp organic material. Fly parasites should not be distributed where they will be crushed underfoot, where they would be removed during stall maintenance or where they would become food for wild or domestic birds. In these areas, the pupae the parasites are hatching out of should be protected by the use of hatching stations. These can be as simple as putting a small amount of the pupae and shavings in paper bags or cups with small holes punched in them and tacking them up out of the way in several locations.
Q: How do I determine the quantity of fly parasites needed?
A: Each facility is unique and many factors influence the number of parasites needed. The number of animals is the main item used to judge but good versus poor manure management, climate, other livestock in the area and the size of the facility all play a part. The release quantities calculated by using our Animal Tally tool are based on the quantity of fly parasites needed to maintain control under average conditions. Warmer more humid conditions will likely require a greater quantity, with cooler dryer conditions possibly needing less. A larger area and/or an area with more abundant fly habitat will require a greater quantity.
Gaining control of an existing fly infestation can require double or triple the guideline quantity and possibly reducing the time between distributions until control is established, depending on the severity of the infestation. Once control is established, normal guideline quantities and frequencies should be sufficient.
Q: How frequently do you need to reapply/repopulate?
A: That is based on the level of fly infestation and the results you wish to obtain. We recommend the redistribution every three weeks. This maintains a strong population of parasites without a decline in numbers between shipments. In extreme situations, weekly or every other week may be required to gain control of a bad fly problem. Every four weeks or monthly can be acceptable in the case of a milder infestation.
Q: What time of year is best to release the parasites?
A: Starting in the spring after the last frost of the season or otherwise before flies start to emerge for the year. This allows the parasites to find and eliminate flies that would otherwise emerge with the onset of warmer weather. Releases should continue until the first frost of the season or temperatures drop enough to reduce the fly populations to an acceptable level.
Q: Is there any part of the U.S. where fly parasites should not be distributed?
A: No. The fly parasites are USDA approved for mass releases anywhere in the Continental United States.
Q: Do fly parasites kill other beneficial insects? Do they harm humans, animals, birds, reptiles or plants?
A: No, fly parasites do not interact with insects other than flies. They are not attracted to humans or animals and do not damage plants. The fly parasites’ only objective is to seek fly pupae in which to reproduce. The need to reproduce drives them to seek and destroy flies before the flies can hatch.
Q: Do consumers who buy fly parasites need to be concerned about any chemical fly control systems they might be using (fly sprays, premise sprays, roll-ons, spot-ons)? What are the recommendations?
A: Yes. Chemical sprays are harmful or deadly to fly parasites and other beneficial organisms. The fly parasite program works well to reduce fly populations by increasing these natural enemies of the fly along with encouraging other natural predators to multiply in part due to the elimination of pesticides. We recommend discontinuing all pesticides with the exception of hand applications in areas where the parasites would not be released. We strongly recommend the use of fly-traps outside the perimeter of the pasture or livestock area. The fly-traps placed in this manner will help reduce the number of adult flies in the livestock area by drawing them away and by intercepting those able to migrate in from elsewhere.
Q: Are there particular weather conditions when the program should not be implemented?
A: As temperatures drop toward freezing, the fly populations become less active as do the parasites. Areas where temperatures range into 110 degrees plus for periods can also limit both populations. Rain will work both ways. Up to a certain point, it makes areas damp and more favorable to fly breeding. When extensive rain puddles form or flooding occurs, insect populations can drown.
Q: Are there types of flies the fly parasites are not effective against?
A: Fly parasites will attack all species of the general family known as filth flies. The filth fly family includes House flies, Stable flies, Blow flies and Horn flies among others. The main species not controlled are the extremely large Horse fly, the Deer fly and the Black fly due to their breeding on water where the parasites do not seek them. The effectiveness of the parasites is influenced by many factors including the possible influx of flies from neighboring properties.