Sponsor message Decades of Commitment to Biosecurity
Learn more

Control of Poultry Pests

by 5m Editor
30 January 2006, at 12:00am

By Ralph E. Williams, Extension Entomologist, Department of Entomology, University of Purdue - Several kinds of flies, beetles, and external parasites are a major concern facing poultry producers. The shift from small farm flocks to larger commercial poultry operations has greatly increased these pest concerns.

Control of Poultry Pests - By Ralph E. Williams, Extension Entomologist, Department of Entomology, University of Purdue - Several kinds of flies, beetles, and external parasites are a major concern facing poultry producers. The shift from small farm flocks to larger commercial poultry operations has greatly increased these pest concerns.
University of Purdue Department of Entomology

The high-density, confined housing systems used in poultry production today create conditions that favor the development of manure-breeding flies and beetles associated with poultry litter accumulations. External parasites (e.g., northern fowl mite, lice) are also of concern in confined housing systems.


Important Species - House Fly – Musca domestica

The house fly is considered the major pest species associated with poultry manure, especially in cagedlayer operations. Accumulated poultry manure can be highly suitable for house fly breeding, especially where general sanitation is poor and when there is excessive moisture. They prefer manure as a breeding source but have been found breeding in moist, spilled feeds and other moist, warm decaying organic matter.

With today’s concern about environmental conditions, fly control takes on added importance. Flies are considered environmental pollutants just by their presence. Fly populations may create a public health nuisance in nearby communities, resulting in poor community relations and threats of litigation. Unfortunately, as urbanization and rural non-farm residences increase, poultry producers will be faced with growing pressure to reduce fly populations. Also, flies are suspected of harboring numerous disease organisms.

The female house fly produces up to six batches of 75 to 200 eggs at 3 to 4 day intervals. Larvae (maggots) hatch in 12 to 24 hours. The maggots complete their development in 4 to 7 days and then form into dark reddish-brown pupae. The pupal stage usually lasts 3 to 4 days, after which adult flies emerge. A complete life cycle can occur in 7 to 10 days under optimal conditions, longer in cooler temperatures. Adult flies live an average 3 to 4 weeks.

They are most active during the day at temperatures above 70°F and become inactive at night and at temperatures below 45°F. Resting adults can be seen on ceilings, walls, posts, and other surfaces inside a poultry house, as well as outside on the building and surrounding vegetation. Preferred resting places can be detected by the accumulation of “fly specks,” light colored spots formed from regurgitation and darker fecal spots. The effective house fly dispersal range appears to be 1/2 to 2 miles from their preferred breeding sources. This will vary somewhat with different environmental conditions.

Little House Fly – Fannia sp.

The little house fly is generally smaller than the house fly and not as common in Indiana. When it does occur, high populations can develop on poultry farms. Although this fly may invade homes in nearby residential areas, it tends to be less annoying in that it does not readily settle on food or people. Adult males show a distinctive aimless hovering or circling flight behavior of long duration within the poultry house or at outside shaded areas. Females are less active and more often found near breeding sites.

Because this fly is less tolerant of hot, midsummer temperatures than the house fly, it often emerges in large numbers in early spring, declines in midsummer, and may peak again in late fall. The little house fly prefers a less moist medium in which to breed than the house fly. Poultry manure generally is preferred over other media. Little house fly larvae are quite different that the creamy white cylindrical house fly larvae. They are brownish red, flattened, and spiny. The complete life cycle ranges from 18 to 22 days but may be longer depending upon temperature.

Black Garbage Fly – Hydrotea (Ophyra) aenescens

Black garbage flies (also called "dump flies") can be found in large numbers in poultry facilities. They are shiny-black in appearance and a little smaller than house flies. They prefer moisture manure to breed in than the house fly. Their life cycle ranges from 14 to 45 days. They will breed throughout the year in poultry houses.

These flies are generally considered to be beneficial, especially in enclosed egglayer houses. Black garbage fly larvae will actually kill house fly larvae and often dominate the manure habitat when presence, especially in moist manure. Adult black garbage flies tend to stay on and around the manure surface in enclosed facilities. In poultry housing exposed to the outside, these flies are sometimes considered as nuisance pests.

Blow Flies – Calliphoridae

Numerous species of blow flies (green or bland bottle flies) may occur in poultry houses. They breed in decaying animal carcasses, dead birds, broken eggs, and wet garbage. Prompt removal of dead birds and rodents , preventing accumulation of broken eggs, and daily cleanup of processing areas is usually sufficient to prevent the build-up of these flies.

Small Dung Fly – Sphaeroceridae

Small dung flies, along with several other small gnats, readily breed in poultry manure and other decaying materials. They can occur in large numbers in poultry operations but generally are not a nuisance on the farm or in nearby communities. Population levels are often higher in spring and late summer.

Further Information

To continue reading this article, click here (PDF)

Source: Department of Entomology - Purdue University - August 2002

Sponsored content
Leaders in Biosecurity

Biosecurity is defined as actions undertaken to prevent the introduction of disease. At Cobb, we take biosecurity very seriously because we know it is directly linked to the health and well-being of our chickens. It can also help keep our team members safe from disease. We continuously evaluate and incorporate new technology and methods at our facilities and within our quality assurance programs.

Learn more