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Barnyard flies don't make good neighbors.

Nuisance flies from dairy farms can cause friction between farmer and suburban city folk. As the subdivisions move into farming areas, new methods of controlling these troublesome insects have to be developed.

"House flies can also hurt farmers because milk inspectors will not grant |Grade A' milk status to farms with too many flies," says ARS animal scientist Richard W. Miller.

Unfortunately, flies have become resistant to most currently used insecticides. And it is becoming more difficult and expensive for companies to develop and register new ones with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To help solve this problem, ARS' Livestock Insects Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, and Cornell University's Veterinary Entomology Program in Ithaca, New York, began a cooperative venture on agricultural fly suppression in 1986.

"We needed an environmentally safe, practical, affordable fly-control system for farmers. We chose a combination of parasitic wasps, good sanitation, and a safe insecticide to combat the flies. In other words, integrated pest management, or IPM," says Miller.

"House flies on dairy farms were reduced up to 65 percent under the 3-year pilot test program conducted in Maryland and New York."

Four farms were treated in Maryland plus three in New York. Additionally, three other farms in each state served as controls for comparative purposes.

Available commercially, Muscidifurax raptor is a parasitic wasp that preys on flies. It lays its egg in the fly pupa. The newly hatched wasp feeds on the developing fly within. After the adult wasps emerge from the dead fly pupae, they mate and find other fly pupae to lay their eggs in, repeating the cycle.

Between 20,000 and 25,000 wasp-parasitized house fly pupae were released per farm per week in fly breeding areas. "Releases were made once a week because the flies breed so fast, they would soon outbreed the wasps," says Donald A. Rutz of Cornell University. Releases were started early in the summer so that the flies wouldn't get a head start on the wasps.

Since many flies develop in calf bedding during the summer, cleaning out the pens once a week was an important component of the tests.

Pyrethrin, an environmentally safe insecticide, was used infrequently as a space spray--when the farmers thought the flies were getting ahead of the other control methods.

"Insecticide use on the IPM farms was reduced by 80 percent compared with those that were conventionally managed. In spite of reduced insecticide use, fly populations on the IPM farms were less than half those on conventionally managed farms," says entomologist Christopher J. Geden, also of Cornell.

Richard W. Miller is at the USDA-ARS Livestock Insects Laboratory, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705-2350. Phone (301) 504-8478.
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Title Annotation:Agnotes
Author:Mazzola, Vince
Publication:Agricultural Research
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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