Learn About Pests

Being able to identify pests is the first step in defending your operation from them. To provide the most effective control, you need to know what type of insect you are dealing with, their feeding habits, breeding areas and preferred resting areas.

Flies

House Fly

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House Fly Details

Description

The house fly (Musca domestica) is the most common of all domestic flies and is one of the most widely distributed insects in the world. They are always found in association with humans or human activities and are the most common species found on hog and poultry operations, horse facilities and farms and ranches. House flies are primarily considered a nuisance, but they can also carry disease-causing organisms. House flies feed on liquid or semi-liquid substances as well as solid materials which have been softened by their own saliva or vomit. Because of their large food intake, they constantly deposit feces (specs), one of the factors that make them a dangerous carrier of pathogens. They are active only in daytime, and rest on the walls and ceilings of homes, barns and other buildings at night. They overwinter either as larvae or pupae in protected locations and complete their life cycle and appear at the first sign of warmth in the spring.

Commonly Found

  • In and around livestock facilities
  • In association with human activity

News

Eat

Fecal material
Liquid or semi-liquid substances
Moist or decaying organic material

Rest

Fecal material
Moist or decaying organic material
On-Animal
Walls and ceilings

Breed

Fecal material
Moist or decaying organic material

Observation

Fly specks
Tails switching, constant movement

Horn Fly

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Horn Fly Details

Description

The horn fly (Haematobia irritans), is a small blood sucking fly occurring in large numbers on the backs of animals. Adult flies are primarily a cattle pest, but are known also to feed on horses, swine, dogs and even humans. Both male and female flies bite and take multiple blood meals each day and can cause extreme irritation and discomfort to the animal. Economic impacts include lower calf weaning weights due to lower milk production of the cow and direct economic losses due to the irritation and blood loss.

Eat

Take blood meals from the animal

Rest

Spend the majority of life on animals

Breed

Fresh, undisturbed fecal material

Observation

Cattle bunching, tail switching, visible irritation

Face Fly

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Face Fly Details

Description

The face fly (Musca autumnalis), is slightly darker than the common house fly and consequently appears slightly larger when both are observed on cattle. Adult females visit the faces of cattle and horses where they feed on secretions around the animals’ eyes, mouth, and muzzle. Adult flies will also feed on the hosts' blood through wounds such as horse fly bites. The clustering effect of face flies on animals’ faces causes extreme annoyance. As a result, animals may take refuge in shady places instead of grazing, causing weight loss and lower milk production. However, the principal economic impact of face flies is their ability to transmit Moraxella bovis, the causative organisms of infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (pinkeye), an eye disease of cattle.

Eat

Face of animals (females)
Plants and Dung (males)

Rest

On cattle
Plants
Posts

Breed

Fecal material
Moist or decaying organic material

Observation

Flies around corners of eyes, nose and all over the face of the animal

Stable Fly

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Stable Fly Details

Description

The stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans), is similar in size and general appearance to the common house fly but is very different in its feeding habits. The stable fly has visible spear-like mouthparts which extend forward beyond the head that allows it to pierce the skin and draw blood from practically any warm blooded animal, including humans, horses, pets and livestock. Both male and female stable flies feed on blood and are persistent feeders significantly annoying their hosts. They are usually in contact with the host animal only long enough to feed (2-5 minutes) and then rest on surrounding buildings or vegetation.Both the male and female fly feeds on the legs and underbelly of the host animal several times each day causing animals to stomp their feet and swing their heads in an effort to fight the painful bites.

Eat

Take blood meals from the animal

Rest

Off animal
  • Buildings where animals are confined
  • Fecal matter
  • Vegetation

Breed

Fecal material
Moist or decaying organic material

Observation

Frequent stomping
Tail switching
Visible Irritation

Horse Fly

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Horse Fly Details

Description

Like stable flies, horse flies also inflict painful bites as they feed on horses’ blood. If not controlled, large populations of horse flies can lead to anemia. Due to a horse fly’s knifelike mouthparts, the wound it creates can continue to bleed and attract other flies. Various diseases can be transmitted by horse flies, including potentially fatal ones like equine infectious anemia (EIA). EIA has no vaccine or treatment and its symptoms are difficult to diagnose. A horse with acute EIA may die within 2 to 3 weeks with only sign being severe fever.

Commonly Found

  • In and around livestock facilities
  • on animal

News

Eat

Take blood meals from the animal

Rest

Buildings
Fences
Trees

Breed

Moist environments

Observation

Small, crusty bumps on skin
Wounds that won’t heal

Other Listed Pests

Cockroach

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Cockroach Details

Description

Cockroaches can become a problem in confined animal facilities particularly those that do not properly manage feed handling areas and feed spillage. Most of these problems can be corrected by implementing proper sanitation practices along with spot application of approved insecticide sprays.

Commonly Found

  • Cracks
  • Grain hulls
  • Manure or Litter
  • Under feed/water lines

News

Eat

Animal feed and litter
Facility insulation
Larvae burrowing into brests of young birds

Rest

Walls and ceilings
Warm, moist litter

Breed

Fecal material
Walls and sub-floors of housing

Observation

Damage to facilities and food storage
Visual confirmation

Darkling Beetles

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Darkling Beetles Details

Description

Adult darkling beetles (Alphitobius diapernis), also known as the lesser mealworm, are shiny black, somewhat flattened beetles with an oval body. They are considered a general stored products pest. They are important to the poultry industry due to the direct damage they cause to poultry structures and as a vector/reservoir of several poultry pathogens and parasites. Adults can become a nuisance when they migrate to neighboring residences near fields where beetle-infested poultry house litter has been spread.

Eat

Facility
  • Poultry feed and litter, broken eggs, facility insulation, larvae, burrowing into breasts of young birds

Rest

Facility
  • Prefer warm, moist litter, migrate into building walls when bird are removed

Breed

Facility / Environment
  • Lay eggs in litter and can also burrow into sub-floor

Observation

Both adults larvae seen in litter and on walls, damage to building insulation

Lice

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Lice Details

Description

Lice are small insects with flat bodies and legs modified for grasping hairs. They spread from animal to animal by direct contact and cannot survive for more than a few days off the animal. Lice are generally divided into two distinct groups based on their feeding habits. Sucking lice have a narrow pointed head and feed by piercing the skin of the animal and sucking blood. Biting lice have a head about as wide as its body and feed on skin and other materials at the base of the hair. The largest of the sucking lice are the shortnosed cattle lice. They are easily recognized by the gray-black body and relatively blunt head and prefer to feed along the top of the neck and around the dewlap and brisket. Another sucking louse, the longnosed cattle louse, has a slender, pointed head and is more commonly seen on calves and dairy cattle and rarely occurs in large numbers on mature animals. It is usually most abundant on the dewlap and shoulders but will spread over the entire body when animals become heavily infested. The little blue cattle louse is found most often in small clusters on the muzzle, neck, and dewlap of mature cattle. There is only one biting louse species common on cattle, the cattle biting louse. Biting lice are most commonly found in colonies or "patches" at the base of the tail, shoulders, and top line of the back. When heavy infestations occur, the skin around these colonies can have the appearance of mange lesions.

Eat

On animal (skin or blood)

Rest

Spend all life stages on animal

Breed

Spend all life stages on animal

Observation

Hair loss
Itching
Redness
Swelling

Mosquitos

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Mosquitos Details

Description

Several species of mosquitos can be seasonal problems for livestock in specific geographical locations. Not only are mosquitos a significant source of irritation and discomfort for both animals and humans, but the welts left by their bites can also increase swine carcass trim from $5-$10 per head. Control of mosquitos would depend on access of the animals being affected and pyrethroid based sprays would provide a repelling effect on treated animals.

Eat

Take blood meals from the animal

Rest

Buildings
Fecal material
Standing water

Breed

Fecal material
Moist or decaying organic material
Standing water

Observation

Itching
Redness
Swelling

Northern Fowl Mites

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Northern Fowl Mites Details

Description

The northern fowl mite is one of the most common external parasites affecting poultry. This cold-climate pest spends its entire life cycle on a single host, living off the bird for up to 3 weeks. The northern fowl mite chooses a host from a broad range of wild birds in addition to Domestic fowl, and is spread primarily through bird-to-bird contact. An infestation of northern fowl mites can result in bleeding, feather blackening and scabbed, cracked skin. Active during the day, these pests have been known to bite poultry workers handling infested birds as well as the birds themselves, causing red skin lesions, intense itching and unpleasant work environment.

Commonly Found

  • back legs
  • feathers
  • on animal
  • tail

News

Eat

Take blood meals from the animal

Rest

Poultry eggs and cages
Spend entire life on animal

Breed

Poultry eggs and cages
Spend entire life on animal

Observation

Visible on animal

Spiders

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Spiders Details

Description

Various species of web-making spiders can cause unsightly conditions in confined animal buildings. This is usually associated with poor sanitation and cleaning practices and can be eliminated by manual means. If large numbers of spiders are present they can be eliminated with an appropriate premise insecticides.

Commonly Found

  • In and around livestock facilities

News

Eat

Insects

Rest

Buildings
Shelter

Breed

Facility / Environment
  • buildings
  • shelter

Observation

Webs

Ticks

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Ticks Details

Description

Ticks have a direct economic impact on the livestock industry. Large populations cause reduction in live weight and reduced weight gain due to anemia in affected cattle. However, major losses caused by ticks are due to their ability to transmit protozoan, rickettsial and viral diseases of livestock, which are of great economic importance world-wide. Several individual species are important in the US:

  • Lone star tick is one of the most commonly recognized species in the US and gets its name by the distinct white spot in the middle of the female’s back.  All stages attack companion animals, livestock, wildlife, and humans. Whitetail deer play an important role in its spread and distribution.
  • American dog ticks are major pests of people and domestic animals.  Adults will attack dogs, medium-sized mammals, livestock and humans.  Adults are most abundant in late spring and early summer.  American dog ticks are a major vector (carrier) of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the eastern US.
  • Gulf Coast ticks attack a wide range of birds and mammals. Adults feed mostly on cattle.  Gulf Coast ticks feed mainly in/on the ears of cattle and can cause severe injury to the ear cartilage resulting in a condition called “gotch ear.”
  • Rocky Mountain wood tick is an important pest attacking livestock and wildlife in western North America.  They are the primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever virus.

Eat

Take blood meals from the animal

Rest

Off animal
  • Vegetation
On-Animal

Breed

Eggs on ground
On-Animal

Observation

Blood loss
Itching
Redness
Swelling