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Animal Protection Systematic Study

Arthropods Associated with Livestock Dung

Chalcid Parasites of Filth Flies


Stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans (L.), and house flies, Musca domestica L., are cosmopolitan pests of livestock. Stress induced by stable fly bites can reduce weight gain and feed conversion efficiency in feeder cattle and reduce milk flow in dairy cattle, and house flies transmit pathogens and are nuisance pests that annoy individuals in livestock facilities and surrounding residential areas. Concerns regarding efficacy and non-target effects of chemical controls have led to the search for native and exotic parasites and predators of filth flies to reduce dependency on chemicals for suppression of fly populations. Insect parasites associated with filth-breeding livestock pests include hymenopterous wasps of the superfamilies Chalcidoidea, Ichneumonoidea, Proctotrupoidea, and Cynipoidea. Of these, chalcid wasps of the family Pteromalidae dominate the pupal parasites (Pawson and Peterson 1989). Blume (1985) listed 14 chalcid species in 4 genera, all pteromalids, as parasitizing fly pests of livestock in America north of Mexico and Rueda and Axtell (1985) produced a key to 10 common pteromalid species in 5 genera associated with poultry and livestock manure. Since then other native species have been discovered to be primary or secondary parasites of filth flies, and a few species have been introduced into North America from other regions for biological control. Currently, 32 chalcid species in 13 genera and 4 families have been recorded in the literature or are represented by reared specimens in the Canadian or U.S. national collections of insects. An illustrated key to differentiate these 32 species is presented on-line at http://????????????????. Of the 32 species, 21 are known to both occur in Canada; these species are indicated by as asterisk (*) in the list of species arranged by family and genus given below. Agriculture and Agri-Food scientists in Lethbridge, Ottawa and Charlottetown have been studying the parasite complex across Canada. Results demonstrate that the complex of species differs from region to region and these regional differences may provide information for future use in biological control programs against the house fly and stable fly, either through introduction of new parasite species or selection of the most effective commercially available species for any region.

Several chalcid species are commercially mass cultured and sold for augmentative and inundative control of filth-fly pests (Morgan 1986). Because cultures are easily contaminated the parasites are sometimes sold as several species or several species are included under one name. At least three species of Spalangia have been introduced into North America for biological control of filth flies. Spalangia cameroni Perkins, first introduced into California is now quite widely distributed, but it is uncertain whether S. gemina Boucek (introduced into Florida) and S. longipetiolata Boucek (introduced into California) (Legner 1978) are established. Other Old World species, such as S. endius Walker, S. nigroaenea Curtis, and S. subpunctata Förster may also have bee accidentally introduced into Canada or represent naturally occurring Holarctic species. Three species of Muscidifurax, M. raptorellus K. & L., M. rapteroides K. & L., and M. uniraptor K. & L. have been introduced into North Amercia from Central and South America (Legner 1978). These and other species of Muscidifurax are distinguished primarily on biological and behavioural characteristics and the exact distributions of the species remain uncertain.

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Chalcid Taxa Alphabetically by Family and Genus

(Asterisks indicate species known to parasitize filth flies in Canada)

    • Brachymeria
      • B. podagrica (Fabricius)
    • Dirhinus
      • D. texanus (Ashmead)
    • Tachinaephagus
      • T. zealandicus Ashmead
    • Eupelmus (Macroneura)
      • E. (M.) vesicularis (Retzius) *
    • Dibrachys
      • D. cavus (Walker) *
    • Muscidifurax
      • M. raptor Girault & Sanders *
      • M. raptorellus Kogan & Legner
      • M. raptoroides Kogan & Legner
      • M. uniraptor Kogan & Legner
      • M. zaraptor Kogan & Legner *
    • Nasonia
      • N. vitripennis (Walker) *
    • Pachycrepoideus
      • P. vindemiae (Rondani) *
    • Psycophagus
      • P. omnivorus (Walker) *go to top
    • Spalangia
      • S. cameroni Perkins *
      • S. drosophilae Ashmead *
      • S. erythromera Förster *
      • S. endius Walker *
      • S. gemina Boucek
      • S. haematobiae Ashmead *
      • S. longepetiolata Boucek
      • S. nigra Latreille *
      • S. nigroaenea Curtis *
      • S. subpunctata Förster *
    • Toxeumorpha
      • Toxeumorpha nigricola (Ferrière)
    • Trichomalopis
      • T. americana (Gahan) *
      • T. dubia (Ashmead) *
      • T. sarcophagae (Gahan) *
      • T. tachinae (Gahan)
      • T. viridescens (Walsh) *
    • Urolepis
      • U. maritima (Walker) *
      • U. rufipes (Ashmead) *






















Blume, R.R. 1985.

A checklist, distributional record, and annotated bibliography of the insects associated with bovine droppings of pastures in America north of Mexico. Southwest Entomologist, supplement 9. 55 pp.

Legner, E.F. 1978.

Muscidae. Pages 346-355 in Clausen, C.P. (ed). Introduced Parasites and Predators of Arthropod Pests and Weeds: A World Review. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 545 pp.

Legner, E.F. and D.J. Greathead. 1969.

Parasitism of pupae in East African populations of Musca domestica and Stomoxys calcitrans. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 62: 128-133.

Legner, E.F. and G.S. Olton. 1968.

Activity of parasites from Diptera: Musca domestica, Stomoxys calcitrans, and species of Fannia, Muscina, and Ophyra. II. At sites in the Eastern Hemisphere and Pacific Area. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 61: 1306-1314.

Morgan, P.B. 1986.

Mass culturing microhymenopteran pupal parasites (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) of filth breeding flies. Pages 77-87 in Patterson, R.S. and D. A. Rutz (eds). Biological Control of Muscoid Flies. Entomological Society of America, Miscellaneous Publication 62: 1-174.

Pawson, B.M. and J.J. Peterson. 1989.

Preparing mass releases of pteromalid wasps. Making the most out of a little. Page B-112 in Abstracts, International Symposium on Biological Control Implementation, McAllen, Texas, April 4-6, 1989.

Peck, O. 1974.

Chalcidoid (Hymenoptera) parasites of the horn fly, Haematobia irritans (Diptera: Muscidae), in Alberta and elsewhere in Canada. Canadian Entomologist 106: 473-477.

Rueda, L.M. and R.C. Axtell. 1985.

Guide to common species of pupal parasites (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) of the house fly and other muscoid flies associated with poultry and livestock manure. North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, Technical Bulletin 278: 1-88.

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Send     to:  Dr. Gary Gibson

updated June 18, 1998 by J.D. Read, BRP/ECORC

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Animal Protection Systematics
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