Date of this Version
Environmental Entomology, 2016, 1–7 doi: 10.1093/ee/nvw014
Substrates composed of hay residues, dung, and urine accumulate around winter hay feeding sites in cattle pastures, providing developmental habitats for stable flies. The objective of this study was to relate physiochemical and microbial properties of these substrates to the presence or absence of stable fly larvae. Properties included pH, temperature, moisture, ammonium concentration, electrical conductivity, and numbers of coliform, fecal coliform, Escherichia coli, and Enterococcus bacteria. Each physiochemical sample was classified as a function of belonging to one of the three 2-m concentric zones radiating from the feeder as well as presence or absence of larvae. In total, 538 samples were collected from 13 sites during 2005–2011. Stable fly larvae were most likely to be found in moist, slightly alkaline substrates with high levels of ammonium and low temperature. The probability of larvae being present in a sample was the highest when the moisture content was 347% relative to dry weight and the average pH was 8.4. Larvae were recovered within all zones, with a nonsignificant, but slightly higher, percentage of samples containing larvae taken 2–4m from the center. All methods used to enumerate bacteria, except total coliform, indicated decreasing concentrations in hay bale residue throughout the summer. In addition to the environmental parameters, cumulative degree day 10˚C had a significant effect on the probability of observing stable fly larvae in a sample, indicating that unidentified seasonal effects also influenced immature stable fly populations.