New solution to fly control
Flies are a problem for all of us – Summer mastitis, eye infections, drops in milk yields and growth rates. On top of this, they are a continuous irritation to you and your staff working on farm. Despite our best efforts, flies continue to be a challenge on many farms.
Many of us are already using chemical control – both in the environment and directly on the animals. These go a long way in controlling flies but they still have their limitations… product costs, labour costs of application (and reapplication!), and safety considerations for you and your team. Furthermore, we must consider the sustainability of such chemical use.
Is there another, safer, easier, and more sustainable alternative? Yes! Parasitic Wasps (also known as Friendly Flies).
What are Parasitic Wasps – Friendly Flies?
Parasitic Wasps are tiny – closer in size to a midge than a nuisance fly! Despite being a wasp, they don’t actually sting. The way Parasitic Wasps kill nuisance flies is amazing! The adults fly around (unnoticed by you and your animals as they are so small) and lay eggs in nuisance fly pupae around the environment. The wasp eggs hatch in the fly pupae, eat the fly larvae (killing them!), before hatching out to fly around and lay more eggs in more nuisance fly pupae. This way the nuisance flies never even hatch out! Problem solved. Bear in mind 80% of nuisance flies on your farm are in pupae/maggot form, so it makes sense to kill them at this stage rather than waiting for them to hatch out and fly around creating problems for your animals and staff. Stop the problem before it even starts.
How do I use Parasitic Wasps, Friendly Flies?
The secret to their success is starting before the nuisance flies hatch, and then spreading new Parasitic Wasps every 2 weeks throughout the fly season.
To make it easier for you, Synergy is offering a subscription service, providing continuous 2-weekly delivery of Parasitic Wasps to your farm throughout the season. All you need to remember to do is order before March and scatter them every time they are delivered to your farm!
Parasitic Wasps arrive in a bag in pupae form (they just look like grains of brown rice!). They need to be spread in breeding grounds of nuisance flies every 2 weeks – these being areas of undisturbed muck (like the crusty edges of slurry lagoons, edges of dung heaps, or edges/corners of straw sheds). Parasitic Wasps can work on any size of farm. The amount you need depends on the fly populations but a good ball park is one bag per 50-100 head of cattle.
For best results take a walk round your farm with your vet to discuss how many bags you will need delivering and where best to spread them to have maximum impact. Review this throughout the season, adjusting where you spread based on the presence or absence of nuisance flies.
Can I use Parasitic Wasps alongside existing chemical methods?
Yes (and no…). Parasitic Wasps can still be used alongside topical chemical control on your animals. In fact, we strongly recommend it as they complement each other well (parasitic wasps killing the flies in pupae form, and topical chemical control killing those that in adult flying form).
BUT… take care when using environmental chemical control as some methods (i.e. the chemicals you spray into the environment/on the bedding) will kill the Friendly Flies as well as the nuisance flies! The good news is the parasitic wasps can only really fly about 50-100m (less if there is a breeze!) so depending on the size of your farm and where you spread the wasps, you can use a combination of different approaches around your farm. Don’t worry, you don’t need to throw away your fly tape in the parlour!
How do I sign up?
It’s really easy. Call our dispensary on 01935 83682 and ask about Parasitic Wasps/Friendly Flies. They will put you in touch with one of our fly specialists who will call you or can arrange to come out to your farm to discuss how many bags of friendly flies you need and how best to spread them. Sometimes as little as one bag is needed.
Orders must be in by March in order that we can start getting Parasitic Wasps out to farm before the nuisance flies emerge! If you miss the deadline, it’s best to wait until next season as starting to spread late is as bad as not spreading at all and would be a waste of money.
Pete O’Malley – Synergy Farm Health, Veterinary Surgeon MA VetMB PGCertVetEd FHEA MRCVS and Vicki Coxon BSc Ag (Hons) L-SQP