Reasons why Australia is infested with flies

What makes Australia a haven for flies. Why dont other countries have the problem in such scale as the outback does.

Some reasons proferred are high temp, dung, dead carcasses, but most countries have similar situations and are not infested in same scale as Australia.

It’s the cruel, never-ending wars. Fighting without pity, and letting the dead bury the dead.

Plus all the drongos.

Nothing to eat them? Just from the pictures, the Outback doesn’t look very hospitable to bird life with few trees and very little water.

This article blames one outbreak on a combination of drought, lots of cow manure, and a shortage of dung beetles to break down the manure (they’ve even been importing beetles to help out).

The article is specific to Queensland and was from 2014 but is the closest I could find to a credible explanation.

They didn’t learn a lesson from rabbits? I look forward to the headlines in 20 years bemoaning the scourge of dung beetles. Herds of them scuttling across the scenery. Swarms of them coming up through the toilets. People with dirty underwear being savaged on the streets.

The tropics are the same way. Vietnam was swarming with them. Likewise tsetse flies in Uganda. Of course in those places it was sewage, rotting vegetation, etc.

I don’t think predators of fly larva or flies themselves could have much effect on the population. The
population just swings too wildly to support anything that might be useful. What they feed on is not being cleaned up for whatever reasons, lack of scavengers or clean up crews. I would think a harvesting method could be developed that could use the flies and larvae to feed a protein source like fish or something.

The rabbits were a predator, right? You don’t want a predator, you want a competitor, in the hopes the scarcity of the resource will keep the two populations in check.

Don’t you?

The outback is too thinly populated for any human eradication efforts to have any regional effect. The population of flies is simply too vast for patchy human effort to have any effect.

BTW, I was in Darwin and the NT outback a couple weeks ago, and I don’t recall seeing a single fly.

Flies are cyclical…give a period of drought and they are minimized, but with some heavy rains later they’ll breed like…well, flies!

Last year living in suburbia the flies were shitful. I now live in a seaside area (which should be fly-ridden with rotting seaweed etc) and haven’t had to resort to the flyspray ONCE this year.

kam…an Aussie.

Rabbits. I thought they bred like rabbits.

Agreed. You are an Aussie. Also agreed that they are cyclical. I’ve lived in Aus for about 16 years now and have been through two particularly bad fly seasons, but most of the time it’s not that bad. I don’t really notice them. Some areas are worse than others as well. I remember when I used to travel through Exmouth regularly and the flies there outnumbered nitrogen molecules.

When I was climbing Ayers Rock or walking through the nearby hills (Katja Tjuta) the damn little fly things would fly right into my face and eyes. I suspect nothing has made them human-shy, they haven’t had millennia of being swatted by energetic pest removers. Here in North America, house flies tend to keep their distance from humans, yet they seem to know horses and cows are relatively helpless except for those tails.

I’m in Victoria, Australia, and we have had a very dry, hot summer. I have seen very few flies at all. Hence (much to my disappointment) very few spiders as well.

Flies in Victoria often blow in from NSW and Queensland. And in Victoria, they are nothing like as bad now as they were in the 60’s and early 70’s, before the introduction and success of the Dung Beetle program.

Aus does, I think (?) have native dung beatles, but they aren’t interested in cattle poo. In the mid 70’s, the schools got film strips from the CSIRO, and it was the dung beatles they were proudest of.

Apparently they did learn a lesson from rabbits. They learnt how to do it properly.


Something something Beelzebub something.

We imported and then bred large numbers of cattle. Lots of cattle = lots of cattle dung. Flies love dung, and fly populations exploded. Other countries have cattle & cattle dung too, yes, but they also have dung beetles that deal with the cattle dung. Our native dung beetles are adapted to marsupial dung, which is much drier than cattle dung and the vast majority of our native dung beetles are unable to deal with the much wetter and sloppier cattle dung. So, you end up with huge amounts of cattle dung lying around on the surface, providing excellent fly breeding conditions.

As mentioned by other posters, there are programs to import dung beetles but it is a very long and involved process. Many dung beetles are highly specific to a certain climate and only active within a specific time period, so to get year-round, country-wide coverage involves a large number of diffferent dung beetle species. The research, selection, importation, quarantine, incubation, breeding up into large enough numbers for release, then dispersal are all very complicated, labour intensive processes, so it’s taking some time.

We had some land owners release several species of dung beetle a few valleys over from where I live, and they have been spreading slowly, but well. Dung beetles are extremely interesting little buggers :slight_smile:

The Aussie salute is known world wide. I’ve heard most flies in Australia bite. That true?

The US has horse flies that bite. But they aren’t encountered in the cities. House flies are a pest but harmless. It’s been over 10 years since a horse fly bit me.

Nope. But they did get in your eyes and mouth and on your ears, and if they get bad, you breath them in. And, as I’ve mentioned before, if you watch Landline on the ABC, you’ll see that traditional Aussies on the land still speak “with their mouth closed”.

We do also have native (??) blood suckers (Horse flies, Stable flies, Black flies), particularly in WA and SA (??), and you know when they’ve bit you, but they aren’t “most”, and you don’t just wave them away.

As Melbourne said, not true. Very few bite. Here in Victoria, the March flies (usually present in February) bite - but they also have a distinctive buzz to warn you of their presence. I usually only get one or two bites a year and it isn’t hugely painful nor a long-lived discomfort.