Flies’ impact on horses
The most common types of pests with aggressive biting habits and negative health impact on horses are the flies. The behavior of these insects is persistent, annoying and sometimes life threatening. Besides making the horses often irritated and distracted the flies are vectors and transmitters for many viral, bacterial, protozoal and nematode diseases.
One of the most important infectious diseases is the EIA. EIA (Equine Infectious Anemia) is a viral disease transmitted mechanically via flies. The virus has two strains of which one is far more pathogenic. Infected horses and other equines can develop acute illness and die quickly. Horses with chronic changes develop many health complications and eventually die.
Conventional control methods
Even though there is a handful of methods how to control flies population, many of them are ineffective due to the different seasonal occurrence of flies and the big number of fly species. Fly population is affected by moisture and air temperature. Warmer temperatures increase the numbers and vice-versa.
One method is using topical pesticides. This method only provides a short-term solution because of the behavior of the insect to blood-feed only once in a couple of days, so new ones keep menacing. Pesticides for the larvae via aerial path do not provide that good of results either. Research shows that the vast usage of pesticides in farms contributes to high levels of pesticide resistance.
Sticky traps baited with CO2 and box traps are often used as a non-polluting method of stable flies’ control. Some horse owners also build and provide non-infested shelters for the animals to keep them away from biting.
Mostly because of the ineffectiveness of the common methods and their polluting character, horse farmers have a hard time dealing with this particular problem.
One of the greatest aspects of this new method is its long-term, biological and environmental-friendly character. Researchers published an overview in the “Journal of Integrated Pest Management” where they explain how wasps can contribute in fly management.
According to them, the wasps are parasitoids of the flies’ pupae. Female wasps use the fly puparium as an insertion site for their eggs. After the eggs hatch the larvae start eating the flies’ pupa and eventually destroy it.
It’s quite important knowing that certain species of wasps have potency for certain species and groups of flies. Before inserting this pest control method in a farm, it’s important to identify the exact types of flies infesting the area.
This biological control is mostly effective against stable and house flies, precisely their immature forms. Therefore the breeding areas of the flies must be determined.
Effective management control
The fact that the new practice of control is still developing and not enough data has been collected, it is still better to keep some of the conventional methods and mix them with the new one.
Horse manure should be adequately stored and managed because it’s the main site of filth flies development. In the case when the fly population emerges from neighboring farms, traps work best in combination with the new biological method. Using both of them is an effective way dealing with adult and immature forms of flies.
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