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Fly Control on an Organic Farm

Red Pine Mountain logoWarning: This post contains horse manure photos. Might not be for the squeamish.

Horses = poop = flies and more flies I soon discovered when I brought horses to Red Pine Mountain. I knew I had to combat them but the real challenge was how to deal with flies on organic farm land.

What to do?

I use a fly sheet and a fly mask even though Khrysta doesn’t appreciate being dressed.

Khrysta the Morgan mare in her fly sheet

And although Khrysta is protected from biting insects, it does nothing to control the rapidly reproducing fly population. So I searched for other solutions.

I had read about Fly Predators in magazines. They sounded interesting but I needed to investigate them more thoroughly. I discovered they are small, beneficial insects who are already living on your property but not in concentrated enough quantities to manage all flies, and their entire purpose in life is to eat fly larvae. They do not bite or sting humans and their life cycle is spent on piles of manure munching away on fly pupa.

I figured I had nothing to lose by giving them a try so I submitted an order for 5,000 of the little beasts which is enough to control flies for the poop of 1 to 5 horses.

5000 fly predators in a bag

The little bugs arrived nestled in a plastic bag nestled in pine shavings. I set them aside for a couple of days until they hatched.

Waiting for fly predators to hatch.

Once they hatched, I walked the pasture and emptied several of the creatures on or near manure droppings. I didn’t have to tackle every poop; these small beasts can travel 150 feet in search of fresh manure.

Walking the pasture with fly predators

Fly predators on fresh manure

The first time I used Fly Predators, I noticed some difference in flies but certainly not the reduction I had anticipated. My mistake? I had started well into the summer and I learned I needed to start spreading fly predators at the beginning of fly season. The next year I did just that and the results were amazing, and the flies almost entirely disappeared.

Perhaps you say your fly management is working just fine, and you’re content with the chemicals you are using. That’s certainly everyone’s prerogative. But I’d like us to look at the bigger picture here, and that’s living as gently on our earth as we possibly can and leaving it as pristine as possible for the next generation. Fly predators and responsible manure management are helping me to do my small part.

If you’re interested in Fly Predators, you can visit their website.