Act now to limit stable fly breeding

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Once harvest is complete, residues should be buried by use of a mouldboard plough or hoe, then the soil surface should be compacted by a roller at greater than five tonnes a square metre compaction. Picture: DPIRD

HORTICULTURISTS and livestock owners, including those in the City of Swan and Shire of Gingin are being reminded to take action now to prevent stable fly numbers building up during summer.

Stable fly is a pest of livestock, particularly horses and cattle, and can deliver a painful bite.

The fly breeds in decaying vegetable matter, manures, poorly made composts, or rotting hay, with numbers increasing rapidly as the weather warms.

It is a declared pest under the Biosecurity and Management Act 2007, with regulations in place to manage this pest across designated local government areas.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development project manager Don Telfer said other local government areas along the Swan Coastal Plain, north and south of Perth were also affected.

These include Chittering, Joondalup, Cockburn, Kwinana, Rockingham, Swan, Harvey, Serpentine-Jarrahdale, Capel, Armadale, Kalamunda and parts of Murray.

Mr Telfer said a key focus was minimising breeding from horticultural crop residues, along with untreated poultry litter and livestock feed, such as hay and vegetable waste.

“Research by the department into the mitigation of stable fly has led to new control recommendations,” he said.

“In susceptible horticulture production sites, once harvest is complete, residues should be buried by use of a mouldboard plough or hoe, then the soil surface should be compacted by a roller at greater than five tonnes a square metre compaction.

“Alternatively, the site can be rotary hoed five times in five days to completely shred residues.”

Stable flies congregate on a horse. Picture: DPIRD
Stable flies congregate on a horse. Picture: DPIRD

The previously recommended method of slashing the residue, leaving it on the surface, spraying with pesticide and turning water off will be phased out, as compaction is a far more effective method of reducing stable fly development.

Owners should monitor their stock for signs of agitation which may be caused by stable fly.

Signs include throwing dirt over themselves, rolling and even pushing through fences and gates in their agitation.

More information on stable fly management is available from the department website at agric.wa.gov.au

Mr Telfer said the department had met with local government, groups representing horticulture, poultry and livestock industries, and community groups, to discuss planned updates to the stable fly management plan, including changes to horticulture residue management.