Fly control

When Bill and I took our urban farm roadtrip in October, I met some cool farmers. One was a goat herder in North Carolina (she wasn’t technically an urban farmer) who told me about biological fly control. In her barn and milking area she placed these predatory gnats that live by eating fly pupae. Cool! With the goats and all, the flies out back are pretty fierce (here’s where you banish your vision of my farm as a utopia, all sweet smells and baby animals). So I figured I’d give it a go.

I sent away to Bugological (there are quite a few companies that sell these gnats, but I’m a sucker for bad word play). A paper bag arrived with a bunch of sawdust and little black pellets inside. The black nugs were parasistized fly pupae. I held up the bag to the light and looked for hatched gnats every day. And every day was a disappointment.
Finally, on a warm Monday a couple weeks later, a few of the gnats (Muscidifurax zaraptor and Nasonia vitripennis) could be seen flying around the bag wondering, where the hell can I feed on some more fly pupae? Per bugological’s instrux, I parsed the sawdust and pupae in my “hot” areas. It’ll take 21 days before I notice if it worked or not. The cool thing about this strategy (versus fly strips) is the gnats keep reproducing and feeding on the flies! They’re tiny and don’t bite, so they won’t become a pest themselves.

6 responses to “Fly control

  1. Hmm, interesting. I wonder if you’ve been trying to get your chickens to help with that, too–if you remember, Michael Pollan describes the chickens helping keep the fly population down around the cows at Polyface Farm. Maybe it’s the wrong type of fly and the larvae aren’t tasty enough?

  2. Doesn’t he bring the chickens into the pasture three days after he moves the cows? So the maggots can get bigger for the chickens.

    You might need to use multiple solutions to really get the problem

    This might be another tool:
    Garden Girl – Organic Fly Trap

  3. miltonics, the closing shot of that video is probably one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. I want to get a fly trap like that!

  4. Wouldn’t be without fly parasites!

    Yes, chickens will eat maggots, but do you really want them to be feeding literally from crap? The reason the vast majority of homegrown eggs lack salmonella and e coli is due to proper cleanliness and space to roam. If your commercial and have to treat the eggs anyway to sell is another story. My eggs can be used raw without worry of disease.

    No birds will be able to keep up with maggots if you have more than 1 larger livestock animal anyway. The smarter thing to do is have guinea fowl or other small, ground-dwelling, insect-eating birds for permanently gleaning cow, sheep or whatever pies – definitely NOT your hens. Most importantly is proper cleanliness and enough space for your animals.

    I had a fly discussion yesterday with my husband as we stood under a mulberry tree with flies swarming since the temperature’s in the 90s. (The flies like the shade, too.) My emu pen is clean. No maggots there or wet waste for maggots to live in. The chickens do not have any area for flies to lay eggs in. Llamas – clean. Goats – clean. I searched high and low – no maggots in our place, no exaggeration, either. With the high temps, if we were producing them, they’d be readily evident.

    Where are the flies coming from? The nearest neighbor with dogs. He doesn’t pick up the dogs’ crap ever. Yet when people, including the a-hole with the dogs, call up vector control, they’ll blame it on me – or anyone else with livestock.

    The inspector will come out and give us a “clean bill of health” like always. And, he’ll leave scratching his head like always instead of checking out the yards with the dogs. We pick up our dog’s poop immediately and compost it for ornamental plant use, too.

    One last rant- The disposable “recyclable” fly traps… unconscionable. Gimme a break. The average person using those will not take the time to empty and rinse to recycle. They will toss it due to the squeamish factor. Another unnecessary use of petroleum oil or corn starch.

    Make your own with milk jugs and pvc and buy or make your own attractant. If you can’t figure it out – check google ” for make your own fly trap.” Lots of variables. Can even make one with screen and wood. The best source of information is from people living and doing homesteading for generations.

    Sorry. Flies are a sore topic for me, especially since I had to order more fly parasites.

    PS Ok if ya wanna ban me. I would. LOL

  5. Riana Lagarde

    that is so interesting! i love frau’s rant too, you are so awesome, i totally love both of you!

  6. Novella Carpenter

    would never ban the frau!
    our downstairs neighbors have two dogs, and they never pick up their shit. it’s insane. i’m out mucking the goat pen every other day, but over in their yard is a literal shit ton of doo. i can smell it in our apartment sometimes. but then again, i did raise two 300 pound porkers out back, so i can’t really complain….

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