Weeds, pests and diseases...
The following link is a valuable guide to assist in notifying the correct authority in respect of weeds, pests and diseases etc.
Please see Department of Agriculture information page.
For many years, the Shire of Gingin has been affected by large populations of the stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans L.), particularly in the warmer weather, and their associated adverse effects on the lives of both humans and livestock. The bite from this fly can be quite painful and therefore has the potential to cause considerable distress. The stable fly problem is currently widespread throughout the Shire with many residents reporting large numbers of these flies on their property.
The Department of Agriculture has made an association between the use of poultry manure and the breeding of stable flies. Accordingly, the Health (Poultry Manure) Regulations 2001 (as amended) were enacted and are enforceable. In brief, the Regulations prohibit a person from storing, supplying, selling, transporting or using commercially-derived untreated poultry manure at any time.
Nuisance flies are commonly associated with manures and rotting vegetable matter. It is the landowner’s responsibility to ensure adequate control measures are in place to prevent fly breeding.
The Shire of Gingin works closely with the Department of Health with a collective view to combating the problem.
Residents are encouraged to ensure that fly breeding does not occur on their properties and are urged to report any fly breeding or excessive fly numbers to Council’s Pest Control Officer on 08 9575 2211.
The Shire would appreciate assistance in sourcing information that will enable more vigilance in the management of stable flies in the Shire of Gingin. Residents are asked to complete an electronic Stable Fly Notification Form - Cattle and Animals or Human and Domestic.
For further information, persons are encouraged to contact the Department of Health on 08 9388 4999, or Council’s Principal Environmental Health Officer on 08 9575 2211.
For more detailed information about Stable Flies, please visit the Stable Flies Action Group's (SFAG) website at www.stableflyactiongroup.org.au
SEE STABLE FLIES
More Information on Biting Flies
If you are a horse owner, odds are you have come across the stable fly or “biting fly”. This fly prefers to feed on horses and cattle more than any other animal including humans. The biting fly feeds on horses several times a day, where their bite causes a sharp pain as it quickly draws blood – the fly pierces the skin several times before drawing blood where they can weight up to 3 times more when fully fed. Horse owners in and around Perth and in many surrounding shires have had to either (i) fully cover their horses with face fly guards and body rugs, or (ii) apply numerous repellents and creams and insecticides in an attempt to reduce the biting fly attacking them, or (ii) they have simply agisted the horses elsewhere.
Fig.1. Horse owners have had to resort to putting protective rugs (left) and face masks (right) on their horses to reduce the numbers of biting flies affecting their animals.
The name “stable fly” is an historical name given to the fly when animals were housed over winter in the northern hemisphere. Being kept indoors for several months their straw bedding was rarely changed and the animals manure and urine mixing with the straw allowed the “stable fly” to develop in this fermenting material. The name “stable fly” suggests that this fly only comes from stables, which is simply not the case in and around Perth. Horse stables and owners rarely produce high numbers of biting flies as their manure is removed at least once daily and horse manure by itself is simply too dry for this fly to develop in, even if spread on irrigated, green pastures and watered.
Fig. 2. An adult biting fly with prominent biting mouthpart (LHS) and all the stages of the biting flies life cycle (RHS) from egg (left) to actively feeding larvae (centre, top), dormant pupae that lie in the soil (right) and adult biting fly that emerges from the pupae and digs its way to the soil surface where it flies away in search of a blood meal.
Fig.3. Photos depicting a horse’s reaction to stable fly bites. The fly’s bites come up in welts, which are extremely itchy and horses will often have an allergic reaction to them.
Fig.4. Horses often react violently to bites from this fly and try to shoo them with their tail or mouth or stamping of their feet as well as brushing up against fence posts and trees to remove the itch from their bites (left). Flies around a horses face (right) are invariably bush flies and not biting flies, which attack the lower limbs and underbelly.
HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE BITING FLIES?
The biting fly or “stable fly” is very similar in size and appearance to the common house fly and bush fly – the major difference between these flies is that the biting fly has, as their name suggests, a prominent biting mouthpart. Stable flies are persistent biters, feeding on animals several times a day, preferring to bite cattle and horses, but will also attack humans, dogs, pigs, newborn lambs, pet kangaroos and emus.
Fig 5. Biting fly (LHS) v House fly (top view)
Fig 6. Housefly mouthparts v Biting Fly (Right)
Fig. 7. Biting Fly piercing mouthpart
Fig 8. A Biting fly drawing blood from a human
The picture on the far left (Fig 5) shows that the biting or stable fly is slightly smaller than a house fly but has the prominent, piercing mouthpart sticking out the front of its head – this is lowered and used to pierce the skin of animals and humans to draw blood, as is shown in Figs 7 and 8. House flies have sponge-like mouthparts that release saliva down onto a surface and then suck back up the food they have contacted (Fig 6).
REDUCING BITING FLIES ON HORSES
Thefollowing options will help give your horse(s) some relief and/or respite from biting flies, but will not eliminate them:
(1) Protective Equipment: Covering your horse with protective face guards, body rugs, and leg guards can reduce the numbers of biting flies able to inflict bites on your horses. As the biting fly mostly targets the lower limbs, chest and underbelly, they are not able to prevent every biting fly from attacking your horses, so some repellent sprays and insecticidal pour-on products will help in addition.
(2) Manure & Straw Bedding Management: Horse manure and straw bedding that is left unchanged for more than a week can start to rot and ferment and allow female biting flies to lay eggs on this material. Regular removal of manure from stalls, pens and paddocks will help reduce a range of nuisance flies from breeding. Particular attention to wet and soiled straw bedding will prevent biting flies from developing.
(3) Insecticides and Repellents can be used on your horses to keep biting flies away. There are numerous products on the market ranging from insecticidal backline pour on’s, rinses, sprays or ear tags through to many different repellent sprays and creams. How good each of these products are in controlling biting flies has not been tested and you may have to rely on word of mouth on their effectiveness. Most repellents have been found to last anywhere from a few days to maybe a day or two at best, given the huge numbers of biting flies plaguing horses in and around Perth. Biting flies are very quickly able to overcome any initial repellent action and the simplest advice is to use 3 or 4 different repellent sprays, rotating through them every day.
(4) Biting Fly Traps can be used to specifically catch and remove this fly from areas where your horses feed and spend most of their time. Protein-based traps will NOT catch biting flies, but a whole other lot of nuisance flies including bush flies, house flies and blowflies that still annoy horses, but not nearly as much as the biting fly. There is a 4 page brochure specifically on “Biting Fly Traps” that detail all the homemade and commercial traps that can be used to reduce the numbers of this fly.
Disclaimer: Neither the University of WA nor the Shire of Gingin endorse any of the products mentioned on this information brochure. Any product omission is unintentional and prices quoted are current as at February, 2011.
Authors: David Cook and Ian Dadour
© Centre for Forensic Science, University of Western Australia, Nedlands WA 6009