The Benefits of 'Good' Bugs: How They Help Your Cattle

At Champion Animal Health, we talk a lot about the importance of responsible pesticide and larvacide use to protect your cattle from fly infestations. Still, while implementing a robust fly control program is critical, you must approach pest control tactically. Many bugs and insects that we consider harmful or just plain gross serve very beneficial purposes for cattle, not to mention humans and the environment.

While numerous bugs may positively affect your cattle population, two of the most important are the dung beetle and the earthworm. They play vital roles in destroying the environments that allow cattle flies to thrive. Let’s take a closer look.

Dung Beetles

Dung beetles have a singularly unappealing name. However, these small bugs are important protectors of cattle and other large livestock, especially in fly control.

Dung beetles are called dung beetles because they are instrumental in helping clean up, bury and decompose the manure left behind after cattle relieve themselves. By both feeding on and burying the waste, they can provide several benefits to your herd. For example:

  • Dung beetles help the manure break down faster, providing a cleaner environment for your cattle overall.
  • By burying manure, dung beetles can further reduce the spread of disease and bacteria that may otherwise be present. In fact, studies from Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom estimate dung beetles can cut down on parasites by 50% or more.

More importantly, however, because they help break down manure, dung beetles cut down on the environments where flies can exist, feed and lay their eggs. The less waste you have, the harder it is for flies to spawn future generations and thrive. The fewer the flies around your herd, the lower your risks of fly-borne cattle disease outbreaks, cattle stress, and all the problems (and costs) accompanying these risks.


You may not have thought much about earthworms outside of the context of a schoolyard or bait and tackle shop. However, these seemingly nondescript creepy crawlies play essential roles in their ecological habitats. Because they break down, process, and recycle decaying organic matter, earthworms can also help destroy the manure left behind by cattle. Again, by doing so, they can reduce fly infestations and disease risks among your herd.

Moreover, earthworms also help remove toxins from the local soil, which can benefit both agriculture and livestock. The improved soil can foster healthier grazing areas for your livestock. If your cattle are healthier, they may yield better milk production, birth healthier calves and provide better economic value for you in the long run.

Other Cattle-Friendly Bugs

Beyond dung beetles and earthworms, many other bugs can be beneficial to still have around your cattle herd. These include:

  • Ladybugs (ladybirds)
  • Various spiders
  • Bees
  • Various species of lacewings
  • Dragonflies

Each of these bugs plays essential roles in the local biosphere, including through pollination and the consumption of various other pests (including flies), which may harm plant life, humans and livestock.

Protecting Good Insects While Destroying Flies

Because not all bugs are bad, you must balance exterminating the pests (the flies) while protecting the good ones. The good news is that products like Champion Animal Health’s JustiFLY insect growth regulator (IGR) larvicide are made with this idea in mind. 

After your cattle consume the IGR in JustiFLY, it is deposited in their manure. There, it breaks the life cycle of flies by making it impossible for the eggs laid in the dung to spawn healthy adults. However, the IGR does not harm dung beetles and other cattle-friendly bugs. For this reason, it can work in conjunction with these creatures, providing your cattle herd with multiple lines of defense.

So, rather than approaching cattle pest control as an all-of-the-above challenge, consider it a compartmental task. While you should certainly do all you can to reduce fly populations, you should also remember that many bugs can help do your livestock a favor. The benefit of products like JustiFLY is that they make it easy to preserve these good bugs while destroying the bad ones.