Got too many flies or other insect pests hanging around your barn?
With proper management, its possible to control pest populations in an effective, yet environmentally-sensitive manner.
A preface about chemical pesticides
We use too many synthetic (chemical) pesticides in the United States. It is estimated that the U.S. applies 1.2 billion pounds of conventional pesticides annually. This comprises 20% of the annual pesticide application globally. Overuse of chemical pesticides has led to a host of human health and environmental problems.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management is a fancy term for describing common-sense, environmentally-sensitive approaches to pest management. Basic components of an IPM system are described below:
- Acceptable pest levels. Wiping out an entire pest population is impossible. Focus on appropriate control, not eradication.
- Monitoring & pest identification. Know what your trying to eliminate. Not all bugs are bad.
- Tackle the source of your bug problem first. Standing water, mud, and piled-up manure are great breeding grounds for mosquitos and other insects (yet another reason for good manure and mud management). Addressing these issues is critical to any pest management strategy. If you don't address these sources, you'll never fix your pest problem.
- Controlling pests. Start with pest control options that are simple and environmentally-friendly. Use synthetic (chemical) pesticides as a last resort. A good pest management strategy can use more than one of these controls at a time.
- Mechanical controls: These include using traps and insect barriers.
- Biological controls: These include purchasing or encouraging colonization of beneficial, pest-eating insects or use of biological insecticides (including pheromones) derived from naturally-occurring compounds. One of the most common forms of biological control on horse farms involves the use of small, non-stinging wasps which feed on flies and their larvea. Several species of these wasps are commercially available.
- Chemical controls: If used judiciously, chemical pesticides can be part of an IPM strategy. In general, however, they should be used as a last line of defense. Chemical controls vary in their potential negative impacts to the environment, so do your homework when choosing synthetic pesticides. Some pesticides, such as pyrethroids, are based on natural compounds found in the environment and are generally believed to be less harmful.
Biological control, like any management strategy, has its pros and cons.
- Natural, non-toxic, and environmentally-friendly.
- You can take advantage of pest predators that are already present on your farm. Plant native herbs and wildflowers to attract the most beneficial insects. Not only will they attract pest predators, but your farm will look nicer too.
- Costs can be higher than conventional methods when purchasing pests from a retailer.
- Shipping, storage and application techniques can be somewhat involved.
- Control may be less consistent than conventional methods due to varying environmental or ecological factors.
Suppliers can also be found online.