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In Australia the flies of most concern to livestock producers include:

  • Buffalo flies
  • Nuisance flies in feedlots
  • Sheep blowflies

Buffalo flies

Buffalo fly is primarily a problem for cattle producers in northern Australia. Buffalo flies are found in hot humid regions of northern Australia from north-eastern New South Wales to northern Western Australia.

Blood sucking by the flies cause severe skin irritation. Affected cattle rub vigorously, which disrupts grazing, damages hides and can lead to skin ulcers. Some cattle are allergic to the flies. Dark-coated cattle, bulls, older cattle and those in poor condition usually attract more flies.

Integrated control of buffalo flies involves the following:

  • Understanding whether or not the cattle on a property need to be treated for buffalo fly.
  • Culling allergic or sensitive cattle.
  • Buffalo fly traps.
  • Dung beetles.
  • Chemical control, including ear tags, sprays, pour-ons, back rubbers and dust bags.

Information on control programs for buffalo fly are available in the MLA booklet: Recommendations for integrated buffalo fly control - version two

Nuisance flies in feedlots

Flies are a problem on many feedlots. Only a few types of flies are of concern due to their numbers, annoying behaviour or disease-carrying potential.

The four types of nuisance flies found in largest numbers on Australian feedlots include the house fly (Musca domestica), the bush fly (Musca vetustissima), the stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) and blowflies (Chrysomyia spp., Calliphora spp. and Lucilia spp.). Producers should be able to identify these four types of feedlot flies. This helps in the design of integrated feedlot fly control programs.

The MLA Tips & Tools: Feedlot flies: identifying the problem and some solutions includes a key for identifying feedlot flies.

MLA recommends an integrated control program for feedlot flies based on the following rules:

  • Reduce fly breeding sites.
  • Use insecticides selectively.
  • Lotfeeding design principles.
  • Enhance populations of biological control agents.
  • Systematic monitoring of fly populations.

More information on integrated control programs for feedlot flies is available in the MLA Tips & Tools: Integrated pest management for nuisance flies on cattle feedlots.

A summary of the key research findings that underpin these recommendations is available in the MLA Tips & Tools: Nuisance flies on cattle feedlots - key research findings.

Sheep blowflies

Flystrike control and prevention in sheep is based on integrating management options to reduce the attractiveness of sheep to flies, long-term genetic selection for sheep with plainer breeches and strategic use of chemicals during high-risk periods. Using fly biology to reduce fly numbers may also be helpful.