Understanding IPM (Integrated Pest Management) for the Biological Control of Flies

All IPM programs are comprised of three components and the most effective Fly Control is attained if all the components are utilized. To achieve this, first there must be some understanding of the behaviour and reproduction requirements of flies. All flies need food (manure or compost, etc), moisture and heat to reproduce. Keep these requirements in mind as you read through each of the IPM control methods below and you will understand how each method contributes to the overall control of your fly problem.

Cultural or Mechanical Controls:

Use good sanitation practices. Manure and compost are the main food and breeding sites for flies. How manure is handled is one of the greatest contributors to a fly population and sound sanitation practices are a key factor in eliminating favourable conditions for fly reproduction.

The most obvious method of manure management is to regularly clean out barns, stables and paddocks. The more frequent the better, but a minimum of once a week (where possible) is highly recommended.

If the manure can be trucked away every week or two would be ideal, however this is rarely possible and the next best option is to place the manure in one large pile. This reduces surface area for flies to breed and the internal heat generated in manure piles causes fly larvae to move towards the surface. The closer to the surface, the more vulnerable the fly larvae will be to predation and the more effective the Fly Parasites will be.

Another excellent method of handling manure during the dry season is to run a harrow (or chain drag) through your paddocks or pastures. This broken up manure will dry out quickly and if there is no moisture (or even reduced moisture) the flies cannot reproduce. Remember that the fly larval developmental cycle is about 7 days so the manure should be dried out before that time or you are just increasing the surface area for breeding and compounding the problem. If you are in a humid region, it is best to wait until cooler temperature in the fall before spreading the manure.

If manure in confined areas (e.g. barns) cannot be removed for extended periods, install ventilation fans and try to establish a dry crust on the manure. As flies require a moisture range of 35-70% for successful larval development, this will decrease the acceptable moisture level for fly reproduction.

Make sure all other areas around the barn and paddocks are as dry as possible. Repair all leaking water lines and try to reduce any wet areas, as these are natural fly breeding grounds.

Flies can also be controlled if subjected to too much moisture. Some dairy and hog farms have lagoons. Flies cannot reproduce in liquids so this is not a suitable breeding site, however areas around the edges of the lagoons or moist crusts on the surface of the lagoons, do provide a place for flies to reproduce and should be treated with Fly Parasites. Some farmers agitate their lagoons to prevent crust formation and this is an effective way to reduce fly populations.

Not all flies breed in manure, and many biting flies breed in composting vegetation so treat your compost the same as you would your manure.

All of the above actions will help reduce the fly population originating from your property, however it must be recognized that some flies will migrate in from nearby farms. The use of flytraps or fly strips will help in reducing the number of adult flies that can reproduce.

Biological Controls:

For every adult fly you see, there are four or five flies in the developmental stages (eggs, larva or pupa). Use scheduled releases of Fly Parasites as part of your IPM program. Fly Parasites eliminate developing fly pupae. The reduction in emerging flies is critical in breaking the reproduction cycle. The smaller the number of adults that hatch out, the fewer adults to lay eggs, the fewer larvae to parasitize, and your fly problem is greatly reduced.

Anyone who has used Fly Parasites will attest to the fact that it is easier to prevent an increase in the number of flies than to get control of a well established fly population. The reason for this is simple. Flies lay more eggs and have shorter life cycles than Fly Parasites. If the problem is attacked early, the Fly Parasites have fewer pupae to attack, therefore they do a better job and fewer adults hatch out resulting in fewer eggs being laid.

Fly Parasites also can be used to control established fly populations; it just requires an increased initial introduction of Fly Parasites and a slightly longer time period before an acceptable control is evident.

Other biological controls, which will further reduce the fly population, include installing nesting boxes for swallows and martins. Spiders are also a great control for most flying insects.

Chemical Control:

Adult fly populations consist of flies that hatch out on the property and those that emigrate from neighbouring properties. While it is possible to introduce an effective fly control program on a property, it is not possible to control emigration of neighbouring flies and it is imperative that these adults be reduced for a long-term solution.

Using fly baits, along with the flytraps, are excellent methods to knock down the adult population of flies. Fly baits, as opposed to chemical sprays, are localized and target only flies and do not interfere with biological control programs. Chemical sprays and fogs however will kill most flying insects and have a negative influence on the Fly Parasites. As with all chemical treatments, the flies will become immune to fly bait over time so it is best to rotate between a number of different baits for the most effective, long term solution.

The fly baits will reduce the adult population, thus reducing the number of females able to lay eggs and fewer larvae/pupae will develop. The Fly Parasites will now have fewer developing flies to control and the fly population will be reduced to acceptable levels.


There is no known method to eradicate flies. The goal of an effective fly control program is to achieve a reduction in the fly population to a level that is acceptable to each person. Some individuals will have a very low tolerance of flies and will incorporate very aggressive fly control programs. Others may accept a higher concentration of flies and reduce the effort to control fly population. Whatever the tolerance level of each individual, the most effective strategy of fly control is the use of a combination of Fly Parasites to kill the emerging flies and fly traps/baits to knock down the adult flies. Utilization of this two-pronged approach, coupled with an effective manure-handling program, should provide excellent, cost effective fly control without the need to use chemical sprays.

Please contact us for a NO OBLIGATION discussion on a customized fly control program  (1-888-668-7264). We are not after a fast sell, but rather we hope to have a long-term satisfied customer. Our business has grown across Canada virtually by word of mouth and we welcome all enquires. Our commitment to you is to create the BEST, MOST ECONOMICAL AND LONG-TERM BIOLOGICAL FLY CONTROL PROGRAM

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