Muscovy Ducks As An Adjunct For The Control of The House Fly

In laboratory trials, Muscovy ducks, Cairina moschata L., removed adult house flies, Musca domestica, L., at least 30 times faster than commercial bait cards, coiled fly paper rolls, fly sheets, or fly traps. The LT90 for ducks in 0.24 m3 cages with 100 flies was 0.6 h compared to 15.3 h for the most effective commercial device. Ducks survived for at least 12 wk in pens with calves, without injury or feed supplement. Ducks ingested a mean of 25 house flies per 15-min observation period when populations were low to moderate. The economics and advantages of Muscovy ducks as part of a management program for house fly control are discussed.

The authors suggest that the observed behavior is innate as the . experimental ducks had apparently had no previous experience with flies, yet fed on them readily even when provided feed ad lib. One of the ducks penned with a calf was observed to capture, on average, a mean of 23 flies per 32.5 attempts. Two (among several) advantages of the ducks were effectiveness against insecticide resistant flies and elimination of breeding sites by removing spilled feed. The ducks were also more economical than the commercial control devices. The authors estimate that under their local conditions a producer could make a profit of $65 on 10 ducks by selling them at the end of the season, while the other control devices range in cost from $171 to $455 for season-long fly removal. At a midsize dairy farm that kept unrestrained Muscovy ducks for fly control, the ducks stayed in the vicinity of the barn and interacted well with animals and humans. In addition to feeding on adult house flies, they also picked flies from the lower legs of cows, indicating that they were also feeding, on stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans s (L.). It should be noted that ducks cannot be used in commercial poultry operations because of disease hazards.

Glofcheskie, B.D.; Surgeoner, G.A. 1990. Muscovy ducks as an adjunct for the control of the house fly (Diptera: Muscidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 83:788-91. Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario NIG 2W1 Canada.