Preventing a Bad Cattle Fly Season After a Mild Winter

Winter 2022-23 was generally mild across much of the United States. Temperatures remained at or slightly above average in many parts of the country, while above-average precipitation occurred in some places. For many, these conditions brought a reprieve from the harsh cold and damaging winter weather of other years. Still, when winters are mild, there may be a significant resurgence of insects, including flies, the following spring. More flies can spell trouble for your cattle, who face significant risks from these airborne pests.

Here at Champion Animal Health, we understand the negative impact that flies can have on cattle, and we don’t want to see that happen to your herd. Keep reading to learn more about the factors that may lead to a bad fly season this spring and summer, and consider how having a robust and ongoing fly control protocol can help you keep fly-borne risks low.

The Effect of Winter Upon Insects

Most living things are susceptible to cold temperatures. After all, when long periods of cold weather beckon, the warning goes out to bring your housepets, livestock and plants into a warm place. That same susceptibility to cold applies to insects, too, flies included. It is a long-accepted fact that when the cold of winter beckons, many flies will die off, providing you, your home, your plants and your animals a respite from these bites, infestations and potential disease risks posed by these pests. 

Still, what happens when the cold of winter doesn’t materialize (or stick around)? Unfortunately, this creates conditions that enable more flies to survive until the following spring. The more flies that survive, the more flies that reproduce. As a result, following a milder winter, you are likely to see flies reappear in greater abundance.

Rather than letting such an abundance of flies harm your cattle (or any other aspect of your life), consider how you may be able to combat them even during mild winters. Consider these in the context of the environmental conditions that a mild winter might bring.

  • Warmer Temperatures - Because flies thrive in warmer weather, they have a higher chance of surviving in milder winter temperatures. However, they may still need additional sources of warmth. One of the best places for them to find this warmth is to nest within waste, particularly animal manure. Regularly cleaning up dung and other waste creates an environment that provides less of a haven for these pests.
  • Greater Abundance of Food - Milder winters often extend the lifespans of vegetation, which provide ready food sources for many fly species. And even if they can’t feed on foliage, flies can undoubtedly feed on other sources, including livestock feed and manure. Ensure they don’t have access to these sources by regularly cleaning up waste and keeping your feedstock sealed.
  • Higher Humidity - A milder winter may not bring ice and snow but may bring winter rains and lead to a wetter spring. With this moisture comes humidity, which creates a lovely breeding ground for flies and other pests. While you may be tempted to keep doors and windows open throughout the winter and spring, you may invite flies into your cattle enclosures. As a result, it’s better to keep these areas well-sealed.

A milder winter may create conditions that enable more flies to thrive longer, but you still have opportunities to keep them at a minimum. In addition to the tactics mentioned above, you should continue to use fly control solutions, such as Champion Animal Health’s JustiFly.

Keep Up Your Fly Control Routine with JustiFLY

If you are already seeing an uptick in flies due to a mild winter, spring is a time to recommit to your fly control efforts. Ideally, you should have continued these efforts throughout the winter. Still, spring is a time to take stock of what you can continue to do to keep flies at bay. If you’re looking for a reliable solution, JustiFLY from Champion Animal Health will do the trick.

The JustiFLY feedthrough contains insect growth regulator (IGR) larvicides, which, while not harmful to cattle, are deadly to flies. All you have to do is add it to your cattle’s feed, free-choice mineral or salt, where it will go to work. When cattle consume the IGR contained in JustiFLY, it passes through their systems and is deposited in their waste. When flies lay eggs in the manure, the IGR inhibits the formation of the larvaes' exoskeletons, preventing them from hatching into healthy adults and breaking the flies' lifecycles. JustiFly can be particularly helpful if you’re working to maintain manure control, given the copious amounts of waste cattle can produce.

With the uptick in flies that may accompany a mild winter, it helps you do everything you can to ensure that you defeat them in the spring. By using JustiFLY, you can better ensure you have a healthy, happy and thriving herd now and in the future.