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How is Climate Change Impacting Fly Control on Farms in the UK?

Rowan Burgess |

Summers in the UK are becoming increasingly hotter, winters milder, and there's often more rain scattered in between. One thing's for sure: the effects of climate change are now all around us. These impacts are now being felt on farms across the UK as the changes in weather create a more hospitable breeding ground for flies.  

Fly control is never easy, even at the best of times, but with temperatures rising and flies thriving, it's becoming more challenging than ever. But how is climate change impacting fly control on farms, and more importantly, what can you do about it? Let's discuss.

Current State of Climate Change in the UK

When discussing climate change, it's essential to separate the current situation from what might happen. The country is unquestionably experiencing some of the hottest weather in recent times. In 2022, the UK's mean temperature was 10.03℃, the highest on record since 1884. Britain has also seen the mean water levels around the country rise by 1.5mm per year on average since 1901, giving a total increase of 16.5cm.

Overall, the UK is also getting wetter, though yearly fluctuations in rainfall can sometimes paint a very different picture. In 2020, the country experienced the fourth wettest year since records began, but in 2018 and 2021, the nation saw lower-than-average rainfall. This brings us to our next point.

The most obvious example of climate change is increased extreme weather events. More days over 25℃ and more days with rainfall over the 99th percentile of daily precipitation have brought wildfires, drought, and severe flooding.  

Importance of Fly Control on Farms

Flies are certainly an annoyance, but an out-of-control fly problem on farms can cause severe issues for farmers and consumers. Like humans, flying insects annoy animals which can disturb grazing and lower production. It's estimated that milk production can easily fall by 5% simply through cow agitation.  

The spread of disease can be another major headache for farmers, with flies capable of carrying 65 different viruses simultaneously. Summer mastitis and New Forest Disease (Pink Eye) are commonly spread through livestock via flies, while the winged contamination carriers can quickly introduce E.coli and salmonella to poultry farms. This is not the end of the viral risks, but the list is so long that we'll stop there and say it's vital to address the problem quickly.   

Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change on Fly Control

Fly Population

While it's difficult to predict something as complex as the growth of the global fly population, most experts agree that fly numbers will go up as the planet continues to warm - perhaps by as much as 10% - 25%, according to some. The knock-on effect of such an increase would be dramatic and require an entirely new approach to fly control. 

Life Cycle & Reproduction 

Warmer temperatures mean more flies due to their faster reproduction, although this isn't necessarily the case for all species. However, if the climate continues to heat up consistently, we can expect flies to live a little longer and breed like there's no tomorrow. 

As a quick example, the average house fly egg takes around 20 hours to hatch, but when temperatures rise above 37℃, that number goes down to about 8 hours. (That's quite a difference!) In extreme heat, eggs can mature from larvae to adult flies in merely four days. When you begin to crunch the numbers of what hotter and more prolonged summers could do to fly populations, it starts to get a little unnerving.  

Increased Risk of Disease Transmission

More flies would bring a greater risk of disease transmission, simply through the pure increase in numbers, while hotter temperatures could also usher in a new wave of disease that couldn't survive in Britain before. Indeed, more mosquitoes could increase the risk of diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and chikungunya.  

Difficulty in Controlling Fly Populations

As mentioned, a dramatic increase in fly numbers would make their control substantially harder. Simply put, flies could effectively overrun farm areas - unless farmers address the problem quickly and decisively. Likewise, our current strategies for fly control work for our present-day trajectory, but the future remains to be determined. Indeed, we may require entirely new forms of pest control to tackle the vastly increased numbers.   

Effective Strategies for Fly Control on Farms in the UK

Insect Spray

Using an insect spray to control a fly population depends on how big your problem is. If you're looking to tackle an entire farm, you'll want to try something more substantial - after all, that's a lot of spraying and moving around. However, for targeted use in problem areas, something like Digrain's Wasp and Hornet Destroyer will undoubtedly clear the room of any pesky flies.  

Insecticide

A high-strength insecticide can be an incredibly effective strategy for controlling flies on a farm - or anywhere, for that matter. It usually comes with a breakneck knockdown speed and a residual that can last several months - important for a warming planet. Digrain Bugster can be used for hot and cold fogging, allowing you to quickly and easily cover a large area. The 2% of prallethrin active included means this insecticide works fast and can also be used in domestic and commercial properties.  

Fly Spray

Unlike the insect spray mentioned above, which comes in an aerosol can, the Vulcan fly spray needs an atomiser or compression sprayer, making it more complex but far more effective. Fly sprays such as this target precisely the problem you have - flies - and come with a healthy dose of butoxide. Butoxide doesn't kill the flies, but it enhances those chemicals that do and helps to overcome the inevitable tolerance built-up by flies over time. 

Powder Concentrate 

Using a powder concentrate is one of the most effective forms of tackling a significant fly problem. When mixed, it can be sprayed or painted onto walls or ceilings, so you can quickly cover a large area. 

And if you're looking for a speedy solution, Twenty One Fly Killer contains Azamethiphos, the fastest-acting chemical on the market. It's also one of the few products that can kill through both ingestion and contact and is effective for up to 12 weeks.  

Fly Traps

Fly traps are a simple and economical way to deal with flies, but they may lack the raw power of other options. Traps are easy to use and usually only require you to fill up the bag with water and hang it where you have a fly problem. However, we recommend keeping them around 10 metres from the location you are trying to protect and sited in direct sunlight for the best results.

The Red Top Fly Trap is a safe and biodegradable bait that works for 12 weeks - sometimes even longer! - and has the capacity for 20,000 flies. This is one of the simplest methods of tackling a fly issue, and the bags can be easily disposed of after, making the entire process from start to finish incredibly straightforward.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Climate Change Affect Farmers in Terms of Insect Pest Management?

With the planet continuing to heat up, we are experiencing more summer heatwaves and much milder winters in recent years, coupled with more rain throughout the year. These conditions breed more flies, requiring a more intensive, faster-acting approach to fly control.   

Final Thoughts

While it's virtually impossible to predict where this chaotic environmental story will end up, we do know that, on average, days are becoming hotter, bringing a higher volume of flies. This impact might barely be noticeable in homes or gardens, but the change can be severe and, at times, overwhelming on farms or poultry houses.

Getting well ahead of a fly problem has never been more critical, and at Dalton Engineering, you'll find every tool you need to wage and win the war against the inevitable tide of flies. Whether looking for sprays, insecticides, concentrates, or traps, you'll find everything you need to tackle your fly problem - quickly and effectively.