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Merck Manual

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Flies and Gnats of Poultry


James R. Philips

, PhD, Math/Science Division, Babson College

Last full review/revision Oct 2013 | Content last modified Oct 2013

Biting Midge

Culicoides spp (Ceratopogonidae) feed on blood and transmit blood parasites to birds. They are vectors for transmission of Haemoproteus to ducks and geese in Canada and turkeys in North America, and of Leucocytozoon to chickens in Southeast Asia and Japan. They also transmit the skin mite Myialges anchora (Epidermoptidae). Bites are reddish and itch for as long as 3 days. Midges feed at twilight or night, and typical mesh screens do not keep them out. Pyrethroid insecticides can provide temporary control.

Black Fly

Simulium spp (Simuliidae), also known as buffalo gnats and turkey gnats, are bloodsuckers and transmit leucocytozoonosis (see Leucocytozoonosis in Poultry) to ducks, turkeys, and other birds. They are most abundant in the north temperate and subarctic zones, but many species are found in tropical areas. They often attack in swarms and cause weight loss, reduced egg production, anemia, and death of birds either directly or through disease transmission. Control is extremely difficult because immature stages are restricted to running water, which is often some distance from the poultry farm. Larval control can be achieved with applications of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis during early spring before adults emerge. Chemical larvicides such as temephos and methoxychlor can also be used. Screens of 24 mesh per in. (2.54 cm) or smaller are required for adult control. However, black flies rarely enter shelters.

Pigeon Fly

The pigeon fly, Pseudolynchia canariensis (Hippoboscidae), is an important bloodsucking parasite of pigeons in warm or tropical areas. It can transmit the blood parasites Haemoproteus and Trypanosoma, the skin mite Myialges anchora (Epidermoptidae), and pigeon lice (Columbicola columbae). It may also cause heavy losses in squabs. The pigeon loft should be cleaned every 20 days, and squabs can be dusted with permethrin or deltamethrin.

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