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Why Fly Control is Important for Cattle

Horn flies and face flies can cost cattlemen both in treatment costs and in lost production. By controlling flies on cattle, many economic benefits can be obtained, including:

  • More pounds of meat produced
  • More pounds of milk produced
  • Better conception rates
  • Reduced incidence of pink eye
  • Greater producer returns

The Horn Fly

The horn fly is a major pest of cattle. This small, gray fly resides on domestic cattle day and night during the season. It is found on the neck, shoulders, back and side. The horn fly’s life cycle is completed in 12-20 days. It reproduces by laying its eggs in fresh manure. Horn flies are very annoying to cattle as they take between 24 to 38 blood meals daily. As many as 2,000 to 5,000 flies can feed daily on a single animal causing blood loss, stress and irritation from fly biting.

The Face Fly

Face flies irritate the eyes, causing stress and extreme annoyance to cattle. This stress may reduce feed intake resulting in inferior performance. Face flies have also been implicated in the transmission of IBR and the organism that causes pink eye, Moraxella bovis.


Insecticide rotation is important

  1. It relieves the horn fly population of resistance-fly selection pressure from the same type insecticide.
  2. Pyrethroid resistant horn flies tend to have enhanced susceptibility to organophosphate insecticides.
  3. Horn fly resistance to one insecticide class tends to drop while the other insecticide class is in use.
  4. Extra treatment time is given with organophosphates due to their slower rate of resistance development compared with pyrethroids.