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The Impact of Fly Pressure and the Importance of Fly Control

Click here to view as a pdf:  The Impact Of Fly Pressure

By Alex Austin, B.S.

When winter is over and warm weather arrives, it is goodbye to plowing snow and dealing with frozen water and hello to green pasture and sunshine. The warmth of spring and summer can present new challenges with the hatching fly population. Livestock owners know flies cause pain and discomfort to animals but they can also have a negative economic impact. It is important to enter the summer season with an effective fly control plan in place to maintain animal health and minimize fly pressure effects on producer profitability.

When fly pressure is high, livestock will be stressed, spending much of their time moving to avoid areas of high fly pressure and engaging in behaviors such as tail swishing, stomping and licking to remove flies from their bodies. These behaviors have a negative influence on animal health and performance by decreasing both the feeding and resting time of the animal. Figure 1 shows some of the most common fly species and their correlating significance in the livestock industry.

Studies evaluating the economic burden of flies on the United States’ cattle industry show an estimated total loss of over $4 billion annually. The top two contributors to this economic loss were Stable flies and Horn flies. Stable flies had the largest negative impact, estimated at over $2.2 billion in annual loss. Horn flies were ranked as the second most detrimental fly species with over $1 billion in estimated economic annual loss. These evaluations were based on decreased animal production and performance, as well as consequences on animal health and cost of disease treatment. Other fly species that were determined to cause stress and decrease performance in livestock were the House, Face, Horse, Deer, and Heel fly.

There are several management tools and strategies producers can use to provide animals with relief from fly pressure such as removing waste (manure, urine and dirty bedding), providing shade for livestock and using fly traps and predatory fly parasites. One of the most important tools to have available is a safe, effective fly repellent. There are many fly repellent options on the market, making it difficult to decipher which repellent is the best choice. Crystal Creek® Fly Repellent is a proven, effective choice that can be used in multiple types of applications.

The efficacy of Crystal Creek® Fly Repellent was tested in a trial by an independent laboratory that specializes in performing insect repellent efficacy trials. Both the Crystal Creek® Water and Oil base Fly Repellent formulas were tested.  Stable flies were used in this trial as they are one of the most aggressive fly species and, as previously discussed, cause the most economic damage. Figure 2 is a summary of the study and its results.

Crystal Creek® is proud to offer customers a safe, effective fly repellent option that does not rely on chemicals. Crystal Creek® Fly Repellent Oil and Water base formulas are convenient to use, easy to mix and can be used as a spray-on, wipe-on, or in oilers. Both formulas are clean, non-sticky and pleasant smelling. Crystal Creek® Fly Repellent is a proven, must-have tool for your fly control plan.

References available upon request.