Stable fly

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Stable fly
Stomoxys calcitrans on aloe vera.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Muscidae
Tribe: Stomoxyini
Genus: Stomoxys
S. calcitrans
Binomial name
Stomoxys calcitrans

Stomoxys calcitrans is commonly called the stable fly, barn fly, biting house fly, dog fly, or power mower fly.[1] Unlike most members of the family Muscidae, Stomoxys calcitrans ('sharp mouth' + 'kicking') and others of its genus suck blood from mammals. Now found worldwide, the species is considered to be of Eurasian origin.[2]

Physical features[edit]

The stable fly resembles the common housefly (Musca domestica), though smaller, and on closer examination has a slightly wider and spotted abdomen.[3] Adults are generally about 6–8 mm (14516 inch) in length and a lighter color than the housefly. Unlike the housefly, where the mouth part is adapted for sponging, the stable fly mouth parts have biting structures.[4]


As its name suggests, the stable fly is abundant in and around where cattle are kept. Its maggots are often seen in the rotting manure near cattle and poultry.[5]


Stomoxys calcitrans laying an egg

The earliest and one of the most comprehensive accounts of stable fly biology was presented by F. Bishop in 1913.[2] The adults of both sexes feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals during the daytime. For egg production, the female requires its abdomen to be engorged with blood. The female takes approximately 2–5 minutes to engorge, after which it becomes sluggish for a while. The eggs are laid among putrefying organic materials such as hay, manure, and wood. Males usually die after mating and the females after laying eggs. The life cycle has a duration of about two weeks at temperatures around 27 °C (81 °F). The duration is highly dependent on temperature and nutrient quality available for the larvae. Bishop (1913) noted that the larvae can endure for more than 30 days in less nutritious environs.[2]

Economic importance[edit]

Cattle heavily infested with stable flies have been noted to become anemic and milking cows have been observed to show lower milk production.[6] The stable fly bites humans at rest in the outdoors. In many parts of the world, the species is a carrier of trypanosomid parasites.[7] Some of the reported parasites and diseases for which the stable fly might be a vector include Trypanosoma evansi (the agent of Surra), Trypanosoma brucei, brucellosis, equine infectious anemia, African horse sickness (AHS), and fowlpox.[8][9] S. calcitrans is also reported to be a vector of Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax.[9][10][11]


  1. ^ Talley, Justin L. (2008). Management and Characterization of Stable Fly Larval Habitats at Round Bale Feeding Sites in Pastures (PDF) (Thesis). Kansas State University. p. 2. hdl:2097/1072. Retrieved 2009-04-06., citing Hall, R.D.; Smith, J.P. (1986). "Life history and economic importance of the stable fly". Stable fly biology and control in cattle feedlots. Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station. Publication 86–362–D.
  2. ^ a b c Bishop, F. (1913). "The Stable Fly (Stomoxys caclitrans L.) An Important Live Stock Pest". Journal of Economic Entomology. 6: 112–126.
  3. ^ "Veterinary Entomology | Veterinary Entomology". Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  4. ^ Dadour, Ian. "Stable Fly- Farmnote 101/1994". Department of Agriculture and Food. Government of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  5. ^ Cook, DF; Dadour, IR; Keals, NJ (1999). "Stable fly, house fly (Diptera: Muscidae), and other nuisance fly development in poultry litter associated with horticultural crop production". Journal of Economic Entomology. 92 (6): 1352–7. doi:10.1093/jee/92.6.1352. PMID 10633577.
  6. ^ Catangui, MA; Campbell, JB; Thomas, GD; Boxler, DJ (1997). "Calculating Economic Injury Levels for Stable Flies (Diptera: Muscida) on Feeding Heifers". Journal of Economic Entomology. 90 (1): 6–10. PMID 9071886.
  7. ^ Janovy, J.; Roberts, L. (2000). Foundations of Parasitology (6th ed.). USA: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
  8. ^ Newberry, Jennifer (2005-02-22). "ADW: Stomoxys calcitrans: INFORMATION". Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  9. ^ a b Baldacchino, Frédéric; Muenworn, Vithee; Desquesnes, Marc; Desoli, Florian; Charoenviriyaphap, Theeraphap; Duvallet, Gérard (2013). "Transmission of pathogens by Stomoxys flies (Diptera, Muscidae): A review". Parasite. 20: 26. doi:10.1051/parasite/2013026. PMC 3756335. PMID 23985165. open access
  10. ^ Mongoh, MN; Dyer, NW; Stoltenow, CL; Khaitsa, ML (2008). "Risk Factors Associated with Anthrax Outbreak in Animals in North Dakota, 2005: A Retrospective Case-Control Study". Public Health Reports. 123 (3): 352–359. PMC 2289988. PMID 19006977.
  11. ^ Turell, MJ; Knudson, GB (1987). "Mechanical transmission of Bacillus anthracis by stable flies (Stomoxys calcitrans) and mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and Aedes taeniorhynchus)". Infection and Immunity. 55 (8): 1859–1861. PMC 260614. PMID 3112013.

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