The Buzz about Natural Fly Control

Natural Fly Control

June 2013

I’m sure you enjoy annoying flies and nuisance neighbors as much as I do.  House flies, stable flies, face flies and biting flies are synanthropic pests of the muscidae family that can build up into a population explosion almost overnight due to a 5 day life cycle in the warmer months.  From an ecological point of view, they are a ‘gift from heaven’ to the entire food chain as many species consider them a delicacy.  When you are the bottom of the food chain your survival strategy is to reproduce rapidly.  As is often the case, we humans tend to set up a perfect environment to breed the pests and eliminate the natural predators. When you eliminate the natural predator of a pest it is then your burden to bear the workload of the predator.  Manure piles, feed bins and confined animals make for happy flies. These issues can be handled with good design and management such as composting and rotational grazing, but let’s look at biological controls for a moment.  Releasing parasitic wasps or ‘fly-predators’ is a good starting point.  This is done as a staged release over the season to increase fly parasite populations which build up year after year and act like an army of drones to seek and destroy flies.  Beneficial nematodes are tiny larvae-eating microscopic worms that can be applied to the soil around problematic fly breeding areas to attack fly larvae at their source. The nematodes also eat fire-ant larvae and continue to build up their population naturally over time.  Beauvaria bassiana is a species specific entemophagous (insect-eating) fungus that can be purchased as a spray or granulated bait to effectively eliminate flies in a rapid way. Not harmful to humans or animals, this fungus is commercially available as a product labeled Balence.  A good insectary like Rincon-Vitova can provide these biocontrols.  Additional fly control techniques include pheromone traps, odor control and introduction and promotion of dung beetles.

by Ben Tyler