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Stable Flies

Active Seasons

Illustration representing the spring season
Illustration representing the summer season
Illustration representing the winter season
Illustration representing the fall season

Appearance and Size Facts

  • Often mistaken for house flies
  • Have piercing-sucking mouthparts and house flies have sponging mouthparts
  • Brownish-gray in color and the abdomen has a checkered appearance, which can appear similar to other flies
  • Smaller in size than other flies (more compact)
  • Size: Approximately 1/4 inch long

Behavior and Habitat of Stable Flies

The stable fly is a blood-sucking fly which is of considerable importance to people, pets, livestock, and the tourist industry in states such as Florida. Stable flies primarily attack animals for a blood meal but in the absence of an animal host, will also bite man. Stable flies breed in soggy hay, grasses, piles of moist fermenting weed, grass cuttings, peanut litter, seaweed deposits along beaches, in soiled straw bedding, and sometimes in hay ring feeding sites. The female, when depositing eggs, will often crawl into loose material. Each female fly may lay 500 to 600 eggs, which are quite small and white in color, in 4 separate batches. Eggs hatch in 2 to 5 days into larvae which feed and mature in roughly two to three weeks. Larvae are maggots and transform to small reddish-brown capsules (pupae) from which the adult flies emerge. The average life cycle is 28 days, with males dying shortly after mating and females dying soon after laying all of the eggs. Certain regions of the United States have considerable problems with large numbers of stable flies attacking man. The coastal parts of New Jersey, shores of Lake Superior and Michigan, and western Florida are areas that historically have had severe stable fly problems. Although these areas have the most severe stable fly problems, the fly is numerous throughout most of Florida.

Image of a magnifying glass

Signs of Infestation of Stable Flies

Stable flies tend to bite cattle (or people) on the lower legs so stamping of the feet is a sign that stable flies are present and feeding. Large, welt-like bites are an indication of stable fly feeding.

An illustration representing a warning sign for bug infestation

Tips for Prevention of Stable Flies

Proper disposal of livestock waste is the first step in pest management. Also, never allow wet straw to pile up in or near buildings. Lastly, set traps for adult flies indoors and outdoors, and use labeled insect repellents before going outdoors.

A cropped image of a pencil

Stable Fly Gallery

Photograph of stable fly
Photograph of stable fly number 2
Photograph of stable fly number 3

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