Dispelling the Myth of Using Fly Predators/Parasites to Control Horse Flies

In our travels and conversations over the past few years while introducing our horse fly trap to the market, we have spoken with many horse owners, riders, trainers, and other equine enthusiasts about their fly control problems.  We have heard which methods of fly control you favor and what works the best.    When it comes to the pests known as horse flies (commonly known as greenheads, yellow flies, deer flies, and B-52 black bombers), the consensus is that the solution is not that simple.  Desperate measures call for trying all sorts of fly sprays, fly sheets, baits, and store bought or do it yourself horse fly traps to alleviate the horse fly bites to humans and animals and the diseases known to affect horses and livestock from horse flies.         

We have heard many of you speak of the benefits of using a biological control in the form of tiny parasitic wasps and how they have been the answer to controlling biting horse flies.    Curious to know more about our potential competition, we did some research and found that biological control will not affect horse fly populations.    Spalding Labs, a company in Las Vegas known for its expertise in all things related to flies, has also confirmed this fact in their literature since 2012.  In a question/answer discussion, an agent wrote:   “Fly Predators, house fly traps and baits will have no impact” on the horse fly species that include greenheads and deer flies.    

The effectiveness of biological control on other types of flies, such as common house flies and biting stable flies, is another matter in integrated pest management control, however.

Technically speaking, these parasitic wasps are known as filth fly pupal parasitoids (Hymenopteran insects from the Pteromalidae family).   Depending on the supplier who is selling these wasps, they are also called Fly Predators, Fly Raptors, Fly Eliminators, and Fly Parasites by their registered trademarks by the manufacturers Spalding Labs, Green Methods,  Arbico, and Organic Cowboy, respectively.   These gnat like insects do not bite or sting animals or humans, and are considered beneficial to the environment.    They disrupt the life cycle of biting stable flies and common house flies that breed in manure, soiled bedding hay and wood shavings, and rotting organic material.   This method is performed in the females’ adult stage by drilling a hole and depositing  eggs into the immature pupa stage of the pests they will soon destroy.  By feeding on pest fly larvae, they will interrupt the life cycle of these common equine farm pests.    

There are many factors that will go into the success of eliminating house flies and biting stable flies with the use of biological control.   The purpose of this blog is not to go into an in depth discussion on the subject, but if you are interested to learn more, you can find two scholarly papers listed below by clicking on their links:  

Use of Pupal Parasitoids as Biological Control Agents of Filth Flies on Equine Facilities http://jipm.oxfordjournals.org/content/6/1/16; and

Comparison of Host-Seeking Behavior of the Filth Fly Pupal Parasitoids, Spalangia cameroni and Muscidifurax rapton (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae).  http://digitalcommrns.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1120&context=entomologyother.

Now back to eliminating horse flies.   Will biological control using parasitic wasps work?   No.  So if not pupal parasitoids, what’s the answer?  A horse fly trap especially designed to control horse flies!   The H-Trap Professional Horse Fly Control System from Bite-Lite is giving any other commercial trap out there a run for its money!  

Horse Fly Trap Reviews Heard Loud and Clear

As we near the end of Bite-Lite’s third full season as the exclusive distributor of the H-Trap Professional Horse Fly Control and Trap System in the United States, we would like to thank you for your purchases and your reviews of our horse fly traps.   Our horse fly sales now extend to 48 states, adding 10 more this year alone.

The reviews are indicative of how our one legged horse fly trap has performed while controlling and trapping tabanids (aka horse flies) without chemicals or electricity.   The reviewers of our horse fly traps have run the gambit between trainers, homeowners, veterinarians, and boarding facilities.     Since introducing the H-Trap to the U.S. market, we have nearly 1300 traps now dotting the countryside.   Those states where our sales are the most brisk and are most inundated with horse flies, also known as greenheads, deer flies, B-52 bombers, and yellow flies, are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois,  Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina,  Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, and Washington.

We received verification from a number of our horse fly trap reviewers that our traps are sturdy.   Not surprisingly we heard that our traps were pricey on the one hand but professionally built on the other hand.    The old adage, “You get what you pay for” is definitely true when you are buying a long lasting horse fly trap like Bite-Lite’s which will service your horse fly needs for years to come.  

Several reviewers mentioned that horse flies dropped dramatically in just a short period of time after installing their horse fly trap.   One reviewer from South Carolina said she couldn’t believe it worked in just 12 hours after installation, and that she had already caught two dozen horse flies and deer flies in that period.    We also heard that other buyers are having slower or little results.    At Bite-Lite, we welcome all calls to help you assess whether there is an ideal trap location and if you even have horse flies.

A horse fly trap owner from Ohio said it was worth the price even if her horse fly trap just worked for deer flies, because she was allergic to this species of horse flies.     

A horse trainer from Virginia said he absolutely loved our horse fly trap, and said it was a great product in catching horse flies and even gnats.   He said he was happy because the horse fly traps helped reduce the amount of fly spray he used to use before installing the traps.

A horse rider from England also noted the benefits after installing his  H-Trap horse fly trap—no more fly sheets—and regretted he had not bought one sooner! 

Another reviewer of our horse fly trap from North Carolina said he was pleased because our horse fly trap did not catch the friendly bugs that are good for the environment.  Instead he caught 40 smaller horse flies that he said almost rid his yard of all of the bad flies.    

A reviewer of our horse fly trap who owns a boarding facility in Florida gave our trap a thumbs up compared to other traps he tried because it stands up to the elements, including wind and thunderstorms.  He found the trap moved with the wind and the conical hood shed the wind and rain.   

We have heard from a number of you who have had success using our horse fly trap to protect loved ones in the vicinity of the swimming pool.     Reviewers have said they can use their pools now “without getting eaten alive” and they “no longer are swimming with a fly swatter.”  We have also learned that the heat absorbed from plastic slides may compete with the efficacy of the trap next to a pool, and have offered advice and techniques to discourage this situation.

While our returns are few, we do have calls from buyers who tell us we have not met expectations.   We want to hear from you, and do  our best to scientifically analyze,  with the help of our entomologist, the problem properties as well as the types of flies via photographs that we ask you to send to us.   A few times, the horse fly trap has been bought for the wrong reason, i.e., to catch  biting stable flies and horn flies, whose behaviors our  traps are not designed to catch.   Other times we have learned of problems when a buyer has a dark horse; we are finding that the heat of the horse may be far more attractive as a “lure” than the heated black ball.   The research out there does suggest that lighter colored horses are less bothered by horse flies than dark colored horses.   One of the solutions we have proposed is to use a white fly sheet on a dark colored horse.

To read the complete reviews about our horse fly trap, visit our Reviews page.

 

Is Equine Infectious Anemia Rearing Its Ugly Head in Your Area?

One of our customers who purchased an H-Trap Professional Horse Fly Control System told us how he discovered our new horse fly trap and why he bought our equine fly control product.   It turns out that the disease called Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) had made news near where he lives in Cortland County, NY, and our customer’s vet was alerting its equine clients about recent cases and the best ways to protect their horses.  Our customer was taking proactive measures to protect his horse from a disease that attacks a horse’s immune system. 

Here’s what we know so far, and why we think you should consider trying out one of our horse fly traps.

On  March 4, 2016, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Animal Industry confirmed that five horses on a farm in Courtland County had tested positive for EIA, and had to be quarantined along with the other 5 draft and buggy horses that board there.   After a five month investigation, the exposed horses tested negative and the farm was released from quarantine.    Throughout the U.S., 52 horses tested positive for EIA on 36 farms.  

On April 18th, a horse testing positive on a farm in Halifax, PA was the cause of a quarantine of the entire farm by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.   It was even scarier to hear that this particular horse had a routine health check less than a week after it moved from another barn elsewhere in the same county of Dauphin.  As part of the quarantine order, 19 other horses at the farm were quarantined. To assess all current disease outbreaks throughout the U.S.,  you can visit  http://www.equinediseasecc.org/alerts/outbreaks?page=1.  

New York and Pennsylvania are not alone about following stringent rules of quarantine when a horse tests positive for EIA; each state in our country has laws and regulations for this disease.   What is truly alarming about these positive outbreaks close to home in 2016 are that none were reported in any of these states for some time.    Since 2007, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has kept annual records and case summaries.    To review the  most recent report published in 2016, visit  https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/downloads/animal_diseases/2016_eia_annual_final.pdf.  

In February 2017, the USDA released its third equine study in 17 years.    The https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/equine/downloads/equine15/Eq2015_Rept1.pdf.

Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccine for EIA, which is also known as swamp fever.  It is a virus transmitted through the blood by biting insects such as horse flies and deer flies.  The EIA virus belongs to the family Retroviridae, which is a group of  viruses that includes human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).     EIA affects horses, and other equidae (donkeys, mules, and zebras).   Once infected, a horse will be infected for life, and could potentially affect other horses at the boarding facility it resides or during transit to other states.  Humans are immune from this virus.

The disease occurs anywhere biting horse flies and deer flies hover.    The cycle of transmission can begin when a female horse fly or deer fly, looking for a blood meal to reproduce, bites an infected horse and then bites a healthy horse.   The virus apparently does not live for very long on the horse fly (according to the literature, anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours).    So for one horse to infect another they must be close to each other in order for the infecting horse fly to move from horse to horse by a flick or twitch by the animal.     Pregnant mares may pass the virus to their foals either in utero or through the milk.   Stallions can infect mares during breeding.   In addition, the disease can be introduced by the use of blood contamination through unsterile syringes, needles, surgical instruments, and dental equipment.

The strength of the virus varies.     A horse with a severe or acute case of EIA could die within a few weeks.  This is rare, however.  Signs could be little bruises on the mucous membranes, depression, lethargy, weight loss, edema, and anemia; sometimes there are no signs at all.    Less severe or chronic cases will have very low levels of the virus and are unlikely to spread.   Most horses, who are found positive for EPA, are inapparent carriers; they do not show any obvious clinical abnormalities due to the infection.   Their blood, however, can carry the virus and can infect other resident horses.   Stress, hard exercise (such as racing), transport, or illness due to other causes can strengthen the amount of virus in the blood, and therefore increase the chances of an acute form of this deadly illness.

To know whether your horse is harboring EIA, you can ask your vet to  perform a simple blood test called the Coggins test, named after the veterinarian who designed it in 1972.    Once drawn, the blood samples are sent and checked for EIA antibodies in the horse’s blood to an USDA approved laboratory.    This test and a negative result is required to take your horse across state lines, and is often needed to board horses and to bring your horses to fairs, competitions, etc.   A negative Coggins test is proof to others your horse is safe to be around other horses.    Some states now require a negative Coggins test on a horse before he can be sold.    Some hospitals are also redefining the rules.   Since the outbreak in Courtland County in March, for example, the Cornell University Veterinary Hospital is now requiring that a horse owner show negative Coggins test within six month of admission.  Before travelling, check to see how recent a test is required since testing differs from place to place.   Many conscientious horse owners will do annual tests because even if their horse has not left the property, it could come into contact with those that are visiting.

What are your options when your horse receives a positive test?    Demand a re-test promptly.    If the test is still positive, your legal choices are euthanasia, sale for immediate slaughter, or lifetime quarantine.   The latter usually requires that the horse is kept 200 to 300 yards away from another horse and identified with a tattoo, brand, or microchip.   Apparently, many horse owners who have initially opted for quarantine later choose the other two options. 

Here are the best ways we have heard that can prevent EIA and its transmission through infected horse flies and unsterile instruments.

  • Practice good horse fly control.    Purchase horse fly trap products like the H-Trap Professional Horse Fly Control System and set them up where horses congregate at your farm.   For trial riding and other events, use fly sprays.    Regularly muck your stalls and properly dispose of manure away from horse stabling areas.
  • Use a sterile needle and syringe for all injections or treatments.
  • Thoroughly disinfect any surgical or dental equipment used between horses. Before disinfection, remove all debris and blood with soap and water.
  • Only administer commercially licensed blood products.
  • Use a sterile needle each time you puncture a multi-dose medication bottle. Consult a veterinarian to demonstrate how to use sterile techniques when drawing up medications.
  • Require proof of a recent negative Coggins test when purchasing a horse or for new horses entering the premises. Require an EIA test for horses that have spent time at a premise where EIA-positive horses have been identified.
  • Only participate in events that require evidence of a negative Coggins test for every horse entering the event; this safeguard will prevent disease introduction and spread.
  • Separate healthy horses from those horses who have fevers, reduced feed intake, and/or have lethargy. Call your veterinarian.

Calling All Horse Flies in Wellfleet, MA

Campers, ages 11 to 13, are catching and counting horse flies at the Wellfleet Bay Audubon Sanctuary in Wellfleet, MA since the week of July 17th. These sixth through eighth graders are the oldest campers at the Sanctuary which has run a day camp for 60 years.  These campers are in the Ecology science program, which offers inquiry-based activities, research, and ecological management to the 12-18 children participating each week. One of their assignments is to assist Bite-Lite in testing its H-Traps with two experimental lures, which have the potential to be marketed.  

After conferring with staff members at the Sanctuary during the spring about the viability of such a project, Bite-Lite created a scientific protocol for collecting data that the campers, counselors, and scientist Mark Faherty would follow.  Bite-Lite donated three horse fly traps, three extra collection bins, and two experimental lures for conducting the project. 

For the campers and counselors, the first phase began with choosing the ideal sunny location where horse flies are prevalent at the sanctuary, building the three traps with the help of property manager James Nielson, and setting them at least 60 feet apart from each other.  In order to make sure the traps were located in the perfect location to catch horse flies, the campers began one rotation without the lures.  In the first five days, the campers counted and recorded 1200 horse flies in three traps, and knew they had the right placement! Seven species of tabanids and other flies were identified.  To account for positional site bias, the campers will conduct three rotations and three repetitions through the end of camp.  

Each rotation will occur in a uniform number of days by moving the control trap (no bait) and the two other traps (with bait) into different positions after each count.  The results for the first rotation with lures are now in after seven days.  The three traps caught an amazing amount of flies-  nearly 4000 in total.  The control without a lure caught 420 flies;  lure #1 caught 1161 and lure #2 caught nearly double that amount!

While the older campers are enjoying the experiment, visitors and younger campers have been  intrigued by the “space alien looking contraptions” seen near the Visitor’s Center and identified in the Sanctuary’s blog on July 20th.

For more details, visit http://blogs.massaudubon.org/wellfleetbaycitizenscience/building-a-better-fly-trap-day-campers-conduct-science-experiment/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CitizenScienceAtWellfleetBay+%28Field+Notes%3A+Citizen+Science+at+Wellfleet+Bay%29

 

 

From Mosquitoes to Horse Flies: How Bite-Lite Got Started

Bite-Lite LLC is a Connecticut based family business founded in 2010 to develop and market the best and most effective natural mosquito repellent candles and other insect control products that are inspired by nature.  It is committed to serving the public’s continuing needs for pest management and control.

While there are a lot of pest control products out there to choose from for a variety of pests, at Bite-Lite we want to help manage your expectations with the best quality products that have been tested by our research scientists.    But remember no pest control product will give you 100 percent protection.   Our name stands behind that very factor as our products will help you get fewer bites by taking the proper precautions. 

Our first launched products were   Natural Mosquito Repellent Candles composed of lemongrass and spearmint oils.  Our scientists were inspired to create an  unusually fragrant formula after observing monkeys at a Florida sanctuary using lemons and limes on their fur as natural repellents.   (View our Monkey story video and our Science page to learn more.)  After introducing our soy wax candles to the same monkeys and testing the efficacy of our proprietary blend of natural lemongrass and spearmint essential oils in the Florida Swamps in 2011, Bite-Lite® went into production with its first four natural mosquito repellent candles made in China.

In 2013, Bite-Lite® introduced its first American made premium soy wax Tin, and in 2014, we added two new U.S.A. made natural mosquito repellent soy wax candles to our collection-   Pint Jars and Mini Jars, both in glass containers.

The science behind our natural mosquito repellent candles lies in Cloak & Scatter® technology.   This chemistry originated at Bedoukian Research, Inc. (“Bedoukian”), a privately owned family run company located in Danbury, Connecticut, that has devoted its more than four decades in business to creating both insect semiochemicals and aroma and flavor chemicals.   (Visit www.bedoukian.com and www.bedoukianbio.com to learn more.)    Whether Bite-Lite® Natural Mosquito Repellent Candles are made in China or the United States, their active ingredients are sourced, blended, and tested by Bedoukian.

In 2014, we met a Dutch manufacturer, who had designed a horse fly trap with a distinctive one leg frame which had been seen dotting the European landscape for the past several years.   In keeping with our mission, our team felt that the time was right to introduce this natural chemical free horse fly trap to our line.  Called the H-Trap Professional Horse Fly Trap and Control System, it first made its appearance at our trade show booth at the National Hardware Show in May 2014.  Since then, we became the exclusive U.S. distributor of this sturdy horse fly trap system that covers 2.5 acres or about 5 horses.   To learn more, view our Science page.    In 2016, we introduced the Armadilha Indoor Insect Light Trap; it catches house flies, moths, wasps, and stink bugs using a UV bulb and discreetly hidden glue board. 

To purchase our natural mosquito repellent candle products, find a Retailer near you or Shop online now.   Also, be sure to check out our cost saving natural mosquito repellent candle collections: the Outdoor Pack, Evening PackPerfect Patio Pack, Best Value Pack, Mosquito Attack Pack, and our new Premium Soy U.S.A Pack. 

To purchase our chemical free horse fly trap, go to our horse fly trap order page.    To learn more about the indoor light trap, visit our Armadilha page.

To see what is coming down the pipeline and to read our blogs and latest news, check out our News tabs on this website as well as on our Bite-Lite website!

Thank You For Your Business!

Cape Cod, MA (2016) Results Are In!

Bite-Lite continued testing the efficacy of the H-Trap Professional Horse Fly Control System in Cape Cod this July. This summer was the third in which our horse fly trap tests were conducted by the Cape Cod Mosquito Control District and its division the Cape Cod Greenhead Fly Control Project under the watchful eyes of Gabrielle Sakolsky-Hoopes and Bart Morris, respectively. The test location for catching horse flies known as green heads this year was in Orleans, MA.  

During the experiments charted below, the Bite-Lite horse fly trap and the Blue Boxes were baited with no lure and an octenol lure.   All total, testers conducted 13 repetitions and collected 872.5 horse flies with four traps. In all comparisons with lures, the H-trap performed significantly better than the Cape Cod Box trap.   

Cape Cod Blue Box Trap vs. Bite-Lite H-Trap for the Collection of Tabanus sp. (biting horse flies) in Orleans, MA   July, 2016

Bite-Lite to Help Sponsor Another Event for the Connecticut Food Bank to Help Hunger

For the second time this summer, Bite-Lite will support the Connecticut Food Bank in its latest fundraiser to help alleviate hunger in Connecticut. The event taking place on Sunday, August 14th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. is Hops for Hunger and there are a number of fun events planned for those attending the first annual event at the Two Roads Brewing Company at 1700 Stratford Avenue in Stratford.   

The attractions include the sampling of 11 local craft beers, food and wine from three local food trucks, lawn games, music by Radio Partner iHeart Radio, and a silent auction containing 17 items and four restaurant gift certificates at press time. Bite-Lite is donating its American made natural mosquito repellent candles and its new indoor insect light trap. Admission will cost $55 per person or $100 per couple, and tickets can be obtained in advance online at www.ctfoodbank.org/hopsforhunger  or at the event. The price will also include beverages from the bar.

“This is a fun way to connect with us and support our hunger relief mission,” said Connecticut Food Bank Engagement Coordinator Kerri Burgerhoff. “Come for great beers and delicious food and be prepared to be tempted by auction items including scuba lessons, jewelry, Miranda Lambert concert tickets, fishing charters and more.” Burgerhoff said.

Burgerhoff said the Food Trucks already committed for the event include: The Meat Truck, a gourmet sandwich truck; Tipsy Cones, an ice cream truck featuring bartender style flavors; and Zuppardi’s Apizza, featuring New Haven style pizza.   Bite-Lite and and TranSigma are Food Truck Row sponsors. 

“We are grateful to our sponsors and partners for helping to support the work of the Connecticut Food Bank,” Burgerhoff said. “Last year, with the help of donors across Connecticut, we were able to distribute enough food to our network of food assistance programs to provide more than 19.2 million meals.”

“The funds raised at Hops for Hunger will help us to continue providing the fresh, nutritious food that people need,” Burgerhoff said.  More than 35% of the food distributed last year by the Connecticut Food Bank was fresh produce. “Fresh, food, dairy products and frozen meat are important nutritionally for families and they are often out of reach for people who are food insecure. We are helping ensure healthier outcomes for people and helping children get the food they need to learn and grow.”

“The funds raised at Hops for Hunger will help us to continue providing the fresh, nutritious food that people need,” Burgerhoff said.  More than 35% of the food distributed last year by the Connecticut Food Bank was fresh produce. “Fresh, food, dairy products and frozen meat are important nutritionally for families and they are often out of reach for people who are food insecure. We are helping ensure healthier outcomes for people and helping children get the food they need to learn and grow.”

All proceeds will benefit the Connecticut Food Bank. Admission is limited to persons aged 21 or older and who show a photo ID.   More information is available at www.ctfoodbank.org/hopsforhunger or contact kburgerhoff@ctfoodbank.org.

About the Connecticut Food Bank:

The Connecticut Food Bank is committed to alleviating hunger in Connecticut by providing food resources, raising awareness of the challenges of hunger, and advocating for people who need help meeting basic needs. The Connecticut Food Bank partners with the food industry, food growers, donors, and volunteers to provide food, which last year provided 19.2 million meals. The organization distributes that food through a network of community based programs to six Connecticut counties – Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London, and Windham counties – where more than 300,000 people struggle with hunger.  For more information, go to www.ctfoodbank.org, www.facebook.com/ctfoodbank, or follow @CTFoodBank on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Bite-Lite Savings Online through 4th of July

 

With the barbeques and fireworks going during the 4th of July festivities and remaining summer events, the mosquitoes, horse flies, and other insect pests will be buzzing around too.  Bite-Lite always will have your back with its nature inspired insect control products! Save 20%  when you order our natural mosquito repellent candles, horse fly trap, and indoor insect light trap online through July 5th.  Use promo code 4THBL at checkout.  

Bite-Lite H-Trap Giveaway for Advantage Horsemanship

Congratulations to Betsy Bradley of Georgia who won the H-Trap Giveaway contest promoted by Advantage Horsemanship with Scott Purdum- Facebook.     About 500 entered the contest that began on June 9th, with the winner drawn today.   The prize  remained a surprise during an eight day countdown with three sets of clues given within that time frame.  What the prize was and how to enter was posted on June 17th.     According to horse trainer Scott Purdum of Virginia, it was the most expensive prize he has ever given away!      For those who did not win, Advantage Horsemanship is offering a special post contest offer for those of you who need  help on your property to reduce your populations of horse flies from the tabanid family (known as greenheads, yellow flies, deer flies, and B-52 bombers).   To order an H-Trap Professional Horse Fly Control System, and get 15% off, use promo code AHBL15 at checkout  at http://horse-fly-trap.com/product/h-trap-professional-horse-fly-control-system/.     For more information about the Leadership Club at Advantage Horsemanship, visit https://www.facebook.com/advantagehorsemanship/.