Not Just Another Fly

Beth Bolles
Horticulture Extension Agent
Escambia County
bbolles@ufl.edu

Through the fall and winter season, we often enjoy a respite from many of our nuisance insects, but one insect is at its peak at this time of year.  The Stable Fly or Dog fly, Stomoxys calcitrans, can occur at all times of the year, but populations are heaviest in late summer through early winter along the Gulf Coast. 

The biting mouthparts of the adult Stable fly extend out from the head. Photo Credits: University of Florida

Resembling the common house fly,  stable flies are persistent pests in their search for a blood meal and provide a painful bite to exposed skin.  Luckily, most people do not have an allergic reaction following a bite. 

Stable flies breed in many types of moist or decaying vegetation, including seaweed deposits along the beach.  Each female can lay about 500 eggs and the typical fly maggots feed in the vegetation before pupating in to the adult.  The entire life cycle takes several weeks. 

Spraying a pesticide for adult stable flies outdoors is not very practical for homeowners.  Direct your control methods at their breeding sites to reduce numbers.  This includes allowing manures, plant debris, or crop residues to dry quickly by spreading them thinly over an area or composting them properly.

Following hurricane events, local agencies may manage stable fly populations with pesticides, but these flies do not often warrant the use of limited resources for control during most years.