Producers are reminded that pest control doesn’t stop in the fall

For a lot of producers, fall means cooler temperatures, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and earlier evenings. What the fall season does not mean, however, is the end of fly and pest problems. The fall months are often just warm enough to keep flies and other bugs hanging around – so don’t drop pest management plan just yet.

“Flies cause a good deal of losses to cattle producers each year in several ways,” Andy McCorkill, livestock specialist with the University of Missouri-Extension. “They spread blood borne diseases such as anaplasmosis, can help carry pink eye from one animal to another and are an all-around nuisance to cattle and humans alike. People and livestock have been entangled in a never-ending battle with the pesky little creatures since the dawn of days.”

He noted that the three main species of flies most likely to cause livestock grief are horn flies, face flies and stable flies.

Another pest that farmers still have to contend with into the fall is lice. The MU Extension Department of Entomology stated that there are two types of lice that generally affect livestock in the Ozarks – chewing lice and sucking lice. Chewing lice feed on hair, skin and scabs, and sucking lice bite down and feed on blood. Both types can cause great irritation and stress to livestock.

To combat fall flies, Dr. Justin Talley, a livestock entomologist at Oklahoma State University, said one level of fly control to strongly consider is insecticidal ear tags. The timing of the ear tag application is important, so producers need to observe their herd and get an estimated fall fly count.

“What we consider when you need to start implementing ear tags are about 200 horn flies per animal,” Talley said. “If that animal is in good body condition score, they can probably handle more than that, but at this time of year, we could have some animals at that 200 horn flies per animal rate.” Sprays and pour on pest repellants are also good measures to take, but since fall often brings heavy dew and chilly rain, you’ll need to be prepared to reapply topical products more frequently, since such conditions lessen the effectiveness of the product.

Topical products can also be effective to control fall lice – but again, be prepared to reapply. “Insecticide sprays will not affect the eggs; therefore, a second spray in 14 to no more than 18 days will be necessary to kill the nymphs that hatch following the first spray,” said Robert Hall, with the MU Extension Department of Entomology. Another product that can be used to treat lice quite effectively, whether the pests are found on cattle, pigs, chickens, etc., is diatomaceous earth, or DE.

The word “diatomaceous” comes from the root word “diatom”, which is a single-celled organism. Diatomaceous earth is a chalk-like powder that is made up entirely of fossilized diatoms. Lice (and flies, for that matter) don’t survive in the chalky, microscopically sharp powder (which doesn’t affect the animal being treated). DE can be sprinkled into bedding areas, or applied directly to the animal’s coat.

Your livestock are sure to enjoy the fall even more if you keep implementing pest control strategies throughout the season!


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