Fly-trap tames livestock parasites

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Real IPM agronomist Isaac Guda tends to two dairy cows in a zero grazing unit. The firm is using the yellow roll trap to control flies that cause discomfort to the cows. The black dots on the tape are dead flies. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

A Thika-based agribusiness firm is using a sticky polythene sheet to control livestock flying pests in its zero grazing unit.

Real IPM has run the zero grazing unit with the roll trap from end to end and any flying parasite is ‘arrested’ by the glue before starving to death.

It is painted yellow, a colour that attracts most insects, with the stable fly being the most notorious on that causes irritation cows, goats, pigs, sheep, horses, dogs, among others.

According to Livestock Veterinary Entomology, a US online extension services resource centre, an adult stable fly takes one blood-meal per day by drilling its proboscis into the back, belly, legs, ears and head of host animals.

The feeding spree takes place within two to five minutes before taking cover in building and vegetation.

The smell of dung attracts the flies, which feast and go into hiding. Losses occur if there are more than three flies on one part of the body for example the legs.

The effects of the parasites occur following reduced number of feeding and resting as the animals try to wag of the flies with their tail, neck or limbs.

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Heavy infestation of the flies reduces the concentration in feeding besides causing discomfort when the animal is resting.

A reduction in feeding quantities means a drop in milk production. Discomfort while resting reduces milk hormone activation.

Reduced concentration of milk initiating hormones in the blood stream causes a drop in milk production. 

At the same time, the glue does not kill the flies, and other flying pests at once like chemicals, its benefits are more because of the ‘24-hour surveillance'.

Chemicals only kill those parasites present during spraying. Those in hiding will turn up later, feed, and continue multiplying. But the tape arrests the parasites and stops them from further reproduction.

Isaac Guda, an environmental officer working at Real IPM said the roller trap reduce chemical use in production.