by Wendy EN Thomas of Lessons Learned from the Flock>
Last year we had flies in our chicken coop. And when I say we had flies, I mean we literally had thousands of flies. So many, in fact that our neighbors started to complain about them. And while, in fairness to us, many of those flies could have come from our surrounding woods, to be completely honest, I’m sure that our chicken coop was adding to the problem.
This was something new, in all our years of having chickens, flies had never been a problem. Oh sure, there’d be a few around the coop but nine times out of ten, the hens acted as our best bug repellant by simply catching and eating them.
But not last summer.
I started doing some asking around. It turned out that I was not the only one who was noticing these flies. Throughout New England, reports were coming in of abnormally large numbers of flies around coops that year.
I contacted the University of NH Cooperative Extension to see if they had anything to say about the situation and they didn’t. Apparently no one (other than I) had reported a fly problem.
I queried a few of my chicken friends and asked fly questions on some forums. In hind-site our (us chicken owners) guess was that the fly upsurge was caused by our abnormally warm winter in New England. (It’s also the reason blamed for the tick population going crazy last summer.) As near as we can put the pieces together, the winter weather never got cold enough to kill off the fly eggs, so when the warm weather came, we never had a chance.
To control the problem, at first we tried fly strips, those sticky tapes that you find in all horse barns, but we weren’t getting much success. We then tried, what amounted to nothing more than a fancier version of a fly strip. Still no go. We finally solved our problem by setting up industrial strength fly traps, like the one pictured. At the infestation’s worst, we had to empty those traps every 3 days. Just to give you an idea of the number of flies we were catching, my husband compared dumping out the trap to pouring out a can of baked beans. (Yeah, I know, yuck,)
Although this winter has been plenty cold, (trust me, she said, still wearing her polar fleece in the cool NH mornings) I’m not going to take any chances with flies this year.
Our first warm weather will bring a mucking out and cleaning of the coop, in fact we’ll probably be doing it this weekend. All of the current bedding that has been collecting winter waste will be moved to the compost area. Fresh chips will be laid down, the ground will be turned over, and our industrial fly traps will be up and ready starting on day one. This time, we’re not taking any chances.
Update: the fly trap pictured in this post is the Starbar’s Captivator Fly Trap and while it worked very well, I’ll be looking into DIY recipes for fly traps this summer.
How about you? Any tips for controlling flies?
In response to too many flies. The baited traps do attract flies, so make sure they are located away from your house. You can reuse a large plastic bottle. Poke a dozen holes about a third of the way down from the lid. Make sure they are big enough for the flys to crawl into. Mix a tablespoon or so of baking yeast with water to fill about 1/4 full. Remember the larger the bottle mouth, the better to empty the flies and reuse your trap.