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House Fly Monitoring Programs (vector control) for FDA and other HACCP programs.


Compiled & Summarized by Gregory P. Martin, Ph.D., PAS,  Penn State Cooperative Extension – Southeast Region Poultry Educator


Vectors that can transport bacteria from one place to another is a concern to poultry producers.  Measuring such vectors should be part of any integrated pest management (IPM) program.  When coupled with cultural methods to reduce vectors, scouting for vector counts is a method to maintain pests below a crittical control point.

The following are some suggested methods that can be used for monitoring house flies within poultry housing.  Each method has its own suggested control point that by consensus in the literature is considered to be a point where formal control needs to be deployed to control adult populations of this particular pest.  Proper and consistant proceedures in collecting these fly counts must be maintained for accurate measurement and control of pests.

Using a chart for counting (pdf) aids in identifying count trends in one house and helps in averaging counts on a farm.  By keeping careful records of all vectors, vector control can be managed effectively.


Spot Cards:  This is the most widely used method for counting house flies.  3x5 white index cards are dispersed throughout the house at stations that sample all areas.  This would also include manure pits in deep pit poultry housing.  An average card count is determined each week and new cards are deployed at each station.  An average count of 100 specks (spots) per card in one house constitutes a control point that action is required.  To help speed counting a diagonal line can be drawn and one half of the card can be counted, doubling the number for card tally.  New cards must be deployed each week, for even light levels of flies still need to be counted.  An advantage to using this method is that the spot cards can be saved for future reference.

Standing Sticky Tapes:  Common 1.5 inch wide (appx.) fly paper ribbon (tape) is placed in locations throuout the house at stations that are renewed weekly.  These ribbons should never be placed near light bulbs or in front of fans.  Adopt another method should fly ribbons become overwhelmed with dust or heavy fly counts.  Average weekly fly counts of above 100 per ribbon are considered to be a control point issue necessitating controls being inacted.

Baited Traps:  These are made of washed plastic one gallon milk jugs that have 2.0-2.5 inch diameter holes drilled into the top portion of the jug to allow flies access to the interior.   One ounce of adult fly bait containing adult pheromone is added to the jug and are placed throughout the house, including manure pits.  If the average counts per jug exceeds 250 flies, control measures should be deployed.

Moving Sticky Tapes:  Fly paper ribbon tape is fully unrolled and is suspended approximately 2 inches off the floor of the house.  The person then walks two interior rows of the cage house.  Fly counts of 100 flies or more per tape per 984 feet (300 meters) traveled is considered a control point for action.  Extra tapes should be carried if the current ones are exhausted prior to the end of a row, in order to get an accurate count.

Consistancy and Accuracy

In each case, it is important that no matter whatever method is deployed for monitoring fly counts that accurate counts be taken.  By consistantly following the same method throughout time, a good sampling of house environment can be made and proper pest control can be deployed.

References for further reading

Axtell, Richard C., 1986.  Fly Management in Poultry Production:Cultural, Biological, and Chemical.  Poultry Science 65:657-667

Beck, Andrew, and E.C. Turner, 1985.  A comparison of five house-fly (Diptera:Muscidae) population monitoring techniques.  Journal of Medical Entomology 22(3):346-348.

Burg, J.G., and R.C. Axtell, 1984.  Monitoring house fly, Musca domestica (Diptera:Muscidae), populations in caged-layer poultry houses using a baited jug-trap.  Environmental Entomology 13(4):1083-1090.

Kaufman, P.E., D.A. Rutz, and C.W. Pitts. 2000. Pest Management Recommendations for Poultry. Cornell University, Penn State University Cooperative Extension Publication UF007.

Lysyk, T.J., and R.C. Axtell, 1985.  Comparison of baited jug-trap and spot cards for sampling house fly, Musca domestica (Diptera:Muscidae), populations in poultry houses.  Environmental Entomology 14(6):815-819.

Lysyk, T.J., and R.C. Axtell, 1986.  Field evaluation of three methods for monitoring populations of house flies Musca domestica (Diptera:Muscidae) and other filth flies in three types of poultry housing systems.  Journal of Economic Entomology 79(1):144-151.

Stafford III, K.C., C.H. Collison, and J.G. Burg, 1988.  House Fly (Diptera:Muscidae), monitoring method comparisons and seasonal trends in environmentally controlled high-rise, caged-layer poultry houses.

Turner, E. Craig, Jr., P.L. Ruszler, 1989.  Research Note: A quick and Simple Quantitative Method to Monitor House Fly Populations in Caged layer Houses.  Poultry Science 68:833-835.

Turner, E. Craig, Jr., P.L. Ruszler, P. Dillon, L. Carter, and R. Youngman, 1992.  An integrated pest management program to control house flies in commercial high rise houses.  Journal of Applied Poultry Research 1:242-250.


Poultry IPM Program

Gregory P. Martin, Ph.D., PAS

Penn State University Extension – Southeast Region


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Last revised: August 2010                                                                        File: