Search for Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture Recognition Program

Ken Kelley
Regional Extension Agent

Kelley, K.*1, , Palmer, K.*2, , Runge, Max*3, , Tucker, K.*4, , Wiggins, A.*5,
1 Regional Extension Agent, ALABAMA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SYSTEM, Brewton, AL, 36426
2 Regional Extension Agent, Auburn University, BREWTON, AL, 36426
3 Extension Professor, Auburn University, aubur, ,
4 Regional Extension Agent, Auburn University, Grove Hill, AL, 36451
5 Regional Extension Agent, Auburn University, BREWTON, AL, 36426

Horn flies are the most economically significant external pest of cattle, costing the cattle industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Producers have many insecticide options and delivery methods available to combat horn flies, however, choosing the right product can be daunting. This often leads to unintentional repeated misuse of the same insecticide classes year after year. Through repeated misuse of insecticides, horn fly populations have developed significant resistance to many of our available products.


In Alabama, insecticide impregnated ear tags are one of the most common methods used for horn fly control. As with other products, repeated use of the same insecticide class has resulted in horn fly resistance, leading to product failures. The purpose of the project was to (1) evaluate resistance and efficacy of insecticide impregnated ear tags in Alabama, (2) educate producers on integrated pest management strategies for external parasites of livestock, and (3) Reduce pesticide load through proper selection and application of products.

The on-farm research piece of the project produced control groups that consistently showed a higher fly count (economically significant) than all treatment groups throughout the study. All fly tag treatments maintained horn fly numbers below economic threshold throughout the season. The Python Magnum® tag was associated with a higher fly count compared to the other tags, but the levels were still below economic threshold. There was not a statistical difference between the other five tags. Producers were trained (at their requests) to select fly tags that matched their needs and incorporate them into a more holistic approach to integrated pest management that includes pasture rotation and other physical management practices to maximize control and minimize impact.

The off-farm piece resulted in multiple extension publications, on person and virtual trainings, social media outreach and additional extension outreach programming.