A Multi-Tactic Push-Pull Strategy for Controlling Stable Flies on Pasture Cattle in Nebraska and Florida
Stable flies are global pests of cattle and in the U.S. are estimated to cause economic losses of 2.2 B USD annually. Although early researchers designed and tested various stable fly trap designs relying on visual attraction to panels, cloths, or cylinders of various materials they have not been widely used. Instead, stable fly management has largely relied on insecticides in a few modes of action classes. Because of concerns about developing or potential development of insecticide resistance there is a need for alternative control products. This study investigated the use of a biopesticide with repellent and contact toxicity to stable flies as a push tactic coupled with stable fly traps that are visually and olfactorily attractive as a pull tactic. In two years of field testing, the Push-Pull strategy was compared to positive (permethrin) and negative (untreated) control treatments using a six-week, repeated measures design. We found that the Push-Pull treatment performed the same as the permethrin treatment when measured seasonally, by study weeks, and by days in a week and in all cases differed from the untreated control. Stable fly trap improvements have also been tested by varying attractant concentration, release methods, and placements. Results have been inconsistent and additional trap trials will be done in the 2021 fly season. The Push-Pull strategy offers cattle producers a low-impact, alternative to standard insecticides to control stable flies in large pasture systems common to the Great Plains and elsewhere.