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An Integrated Approach to Managing Fly Pests in Dairy Calf Greenhouses 2001

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Project leaders: D. A. Rutz, Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

P. E. Kaufman Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

J. K. Waldron, New York State IPM, Cornell University, Geneva, NY

Abstract: House flies, Musca domestica, and stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans, are both extremely important dairy cattle pests in New York. House flies transmit diseases and are annoying, while stable flies inflict a painful bite causing weight loss and discomfort to animals. Both of these flies have the potential to move from the farm to neighboring homes creating legal challenges and extremely poor community relations.

Large, plastic covered, half-hoop structures, resembling greenhouses used for holding large numbers of calves are beginning to replace individual calf hutches on New York dairy farms. The benefits of using these structures are numerous (easier animal handling, healthier calves, and easier cleanup), however, there is also the potential for buildup of large numbers of fly pests. Until recently, we have not had the opportunity to critically evaluate the effectiveness of our dairy fly IPM program recommendations in these facilities. Additionally, this on-farm project enabled us to evaluate our fly management recommendations and provided us with a means to solicit grower feedback and suggestions in "real time."

Eight dairy farms with calf greenhouses were used in this study with three farms serving as control sites and five serving as IPM farms. Farms chosen for this study ranged in size from 200 to over 2,000 milking cows and were located in Tompkins, Cortland, Onondaga and Cayuga counties. Fly breeding areas were observed on every farm. Maternity and calf rearing facilities were the primary sources for breeding activity.

Producer perceptions on stable fly abundance appear to be closely reflected in calf leg counts. Sticky traps (75) removed 483,000 house flies and 77,000 stable flies from five dairies throughout the course of the study. IPM farms were less likely to use insecticides and when needed used more IPM-friendly materials than Control farms. As was expected, the sticky traps were not a "silver bullet" to fly management, but were an important component in an overall strategy. As observed in study year 1, cultural control continued to exert the single greatest impact on changes in fly populations. When producers (IPM and Control) disposed of refused water out-of-doors and cleaned wet areas below feed and water buckets, fly numbers dropped. During the 2001 study we incorporated an augmentative biological control program by releasing parasitoids on the five IPM farms. As of the publication of this report, parasitoid samples have not been fully identified and summarized.

This project was conducted over a two-year period. This abbreviated report will cover some of the results from the 2001 project. A complete report will be filed in the 2002 project report year.