Buf­falo fly ‘a real prob­lem’

Hu­mid con­di­tions cause num­bers to ex­plode

Central and North Burnett Times - - RURAL UPDATE - Emily Smith emily.smith@cnbtimes.com.au

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.”

PHOTO: FRANCES CAMERON 180110/006

TESTED METHOD: A back-rub­ber be­ing used to con­trol buf­falo fly on cat­tle.

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