House flies (Musca domestica L.) are common synanthropic pests associated with confined animal operations, including dairy farms. House flies can cause substantial nuisance and may transmit human and animal pathogens. Surprisingly little is known about the daily flight activity of house flies. This study examined diurnal house fly flight activity on two southern California dairies using clear sticky traps to capture flies over hourly intervals. Flight activity for both males and females combined started near dawn and generally increased to a single broad activity peak during mid to late morning. Male flight activity peaked earlier than female flight activity and this separation in peak activity widened as mean daytime temperature increased. Flight activity for both sexes increased rapidly during early morning in response to the combined effects of increasing light intensity and temperature, with decreasing flight activity late in the day as temperature decreased. During midday, flight activity was slightly negatively associated with light intensity and temperature. Collection period (time of day) was a useful predictor of house fly activity on southern California dairies and the diurnal pattern of flight activity should be considered when developing house fly monitoring and control programs.
Keywords: California; dairy; light intensity; temperature; trap; wind speed.