Everything you need to know about this year’s fly season
By Tim O’Byrne
Buzzing, bugging, biting…hoardes of bloodthirsty winged pests with one thing on their mind; take what’s not theirs while spreading ravaging pinkeye and leaving bloody, painful bite swells on our good cattle.
Oh no you don’t, flies. Recognized as sophisticated stewards of the land and livestock, today’s American beef producer will do everything in their power to keep the cattle in their care comfortable, especially in the wet areas of the country this spring and summer.
Bruce Brinkmeyer, Insecticide Category Manager with Bayer Animal Health, says, “Moisture is a key element for creating ideal breeding areas for stable flies and house flies. This can influence how quickly adult populations develop in the spring.” And by all indications, certain outfits, especially out West, are going to see standing water and muck where it hasn’t been for years.
The Airborne Pest Lineup
What kind of flies are we dealing with here?
Mainly on cattle, from fresh manure
Horn flies – lives most of its life swarming cattle; eats cattle blood.
Face flies – lives on fence posts, trees, bushes; eats cattle saliva, tears, nasal mucus;
Near the barn, from rotting manure and moist organic material
Stable flies –lives on barn walls, weeds, anything near the barn; eats blood from cattle and people.
House flies – lives on fences, buildings, trees, piles of rotting manure & soil; dines on old feed, manure, waste, sweat, tears of animals.
Now that we know our target a little bit better, let’s explore ways to get rid of them FOREVER (sorry, folks, that’s not gonna happen, but we can make a pretty good dent in them if we hone our strategy).
Turn to our Parade of Parasite Products chart, conveniently positioned for easy research on page 43 of this issue. The chart identifies several methods to control flies, lice, mites, grubs, ticks, flukes, worms, and pretty much any mini-invertebrate that thinks it can move on in and set up housekeeping.
WR Radio host Tigger Erhardt interviews Reese Graham, Product & Sales Manager, Y-Tex Corporation, Cody, Wyoming.
Tigger: The term Mode of Action refers to how a particular product works. Tell us a bit more about the importance of rotating Mode of Actions when it comes to fly tags.
Reese: It’s not just brands, it’s chemistries; you have to rotate whether it’s an organophosphate, a macrocyclic lactone or a pyrethroid. Horn flies are a real surly insect, they want to survive, they want to live. And you have to rotate that chemistry. And what happens a lot of times is producers start using a chemistry that works really well for them, whatever it may be. It could be the macrocyclic lactone and then they say, “You know what, I want to use it one more year”. And then what we have is a train wreck. So they really need to adhere to that rotational program and then they won’t have this resistance problem pop up.
Tigger: When should we be putting fly tags in, and when should we be taking them out?
Reese: Put the tags in as late as possible. You want to try to do this the first of June. Some people can’t do that. They are getting their cattle up in March or April. And what they need to realize is that most tags are going to last about 3 to 5 months. So if they attach them in April, what does that tell you; their control is going to end before fly season is up. So we ask them to wait as long as they possibly can before they put that tag in. Once the season is over we ask them to take those tags out because it’s been proven with university research that if you leave insecticide tags in the ear it will promote resistance.
Tigger: How long does it take until the animal starts to build up some resistance to flies once you fly tag them?
Reese: Once you put that tag on, it takes about a week before it translocates over the entire skin of the animal.
Consult your veterinarian regarding a fly tag strategy that works for your operation.
This little devil is likely going to show up this spring on damp, warm pasture above 4,000 feet, so watch out all you cowhands west of the Front Range. You’re going to find a downed critter out in the grass, healthy and alert but can’t get up. The tick is relatively small and flat in it’s natural state, but engorges to the size of your little fingernail once it embeds, secreting a neurotoxin that occasionally causes paralysis in mammals. And, it doesn’t necessarily need to be engorged to do it; those are the easy ones to find. You’ll need to go over the downed critter with a fine-toothed comb, literally, and pick all the ticks off.
Steve Brewer, manager of Douglas Lake Ranch’s Alkali Lake Ranch division in central British Columbia, has picked more than a few of these lovelies in his day. “You need to be very thorough when you’re picking this tick,” Brewer cautions, “because it only takes one to bring a cow down. Pay special attention to the extremities – the armpits and up between the hind legs – because that’s where they often embed as they crawl up the animal’s legs.” And yes, death loss with this varmint is a very real possibility. If it gets really bad out there, consult your veterinarian immediately because the herd may need to be sprayed for this particularly nasty tick.