Buffalo fly ‘a real problem’
Humid conditions cause numbers to explode
BUFFALO fly would have to be the achilles heel of this summer’s bumper farming season.
As the aggravating parasites thrive in humid conditions, their numbers have recently exploded, causing cattle a lot of stress.
Monto vet Cameron Marbach said the flies required a feed of blood every 20 minutes, so they caused severe anxiety to the cattle.
“Then they spend half their time running under trees, not eating and not putting on weight,” he said.
While dung beetles are one of the most important weapons in fighting their outbreaks, as they disperse the cow pats where their eggs are laid, farmers tend to use chemically treated ear-tags and back-rubbers to kill the flies.
Monto farmer Peter Jamieson has sprayed twice already this summer.
“If someone could get something to get rid of buffalo fly, I’d be happy. They are a real problem,” he said.
Many farmers already have new buffalo fly traps developed by the CSIRO on their radar, which remove the flies from the backs of cattle without chemicals.
“When cattle walk under a tree and the tree throws shade onto the animal’s back, buffalo fly are programmed to fly away towards the light, so they don’t get swiped off by the trees branches,” Mr Marbach said.
“The trap works off that concept. They fly towards the light, and that traps the flies. The only thing is, cattle have to learn how to walk through them.
“That’s why they are really good for dairy cows, which can walk through them on the way to get milked.”
While there is a range of different approaches to dealing with the pests, there’s one in particular that Mr Marbach advised against.
“Do not use the sump oil from engines to treat the flies,” he said.
“I’ve seen people do that before, but the chemical residue ends up in the meat.”
TESTED METHOD: A back-rubber being used to control buffalo fly on cattle.