Stable Fly

During the warmer weather residents in the Shire may notice an increase in the population of stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans L.). This fly affects both humans and livestock. The bite from this fly can be quite painful and therefore has the potential to cause considerable distress. Nuisance flies are commonly associated with manures and rotting vegetable matter. It is the landowner’s responsibility to ensure adequate control measures are in place to prevent fly breeding.

The Shire works closely with the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) with a collective view to combating the problem.

Horse Owners

If you are a horse owner, odds are you have come across the stable fly or "biting fly". This fly prefers to feed on horses and cattle more than any other animal including humans. The biting fly feeds on horses several times a day, where their bite causes a sharp pain as it quickly draws blood – the fly pierces the skin several times before drawing blood where they can weigh up to 3 times more when fully fed. Horse owners in and around Perth and in many surrounding shires have had to either (i) fully cover their horses with face fly guards and body rugs, or (ii) apply numerous repellents and creams and insecticides in an attempt to reduce the biting fly attacking them, or (ii) they have simply agisted the horses elsewhere.

The name "stable fly" is an historical name given to the fly when animals were housed over winter in the northern hemisphere. Being kept indoors for several months their straw bedding was rarely changed and the animals’ manure and urine mixing with the straw allowed the "stable fly" to develop in this fermenting material. The name "stable fly" suggests that this fly only comes from stables, which is simply not the case in and around Perth. Horse stables and owners rarely produce high numbers of biting flies as their manure is removed at least once daily and horse manure by itself is simply too dry for this fly to develop in, even if spread on irrigated, green pastures and watered.

How do I know if I have biting flies?

The biting fly or "stable fly" is very similar in size and appearance to the common house fly and bush fly – the major difference between these flies is that the biting fly has, as their name suggests, a prominent biting mouthpart. Stable flies are persistent biters, feeding on animals several times a day, preferring to bite cattle and horses, but will also attack humans, dogs, pigs, newborn lambs, pet kangaroos and emus.

Residents are encouraged to ensure that fly breeding does not occur on their properties and are urged to report any fly breeding or excessive fly numbers to DAFWA on 1800 084 881 or the Shire’s Environmental Health Officer on 9576 4600.

We would really appreciate assistance in sourcing information that will enable more vigilance in the management of stable flies in the Shire.

For more detailed information about Stable Flies, please visit the Stable Fly Action Group’s (SFAG) website (

If you have any questions with regard to this "pest" please contact Glenn Sargeson, Principal Environmental Health Officer at the Shire.

Biosecurity And Agricultural Management (Stable Fly) Management Plan 2019 (Plan 2019)


Plan 2019 was originally produced in 2013 and updated in 2016 and 2019 with the latest version receiving publication in the Government Gazette on 3 September 2019.  The purpose of Plan 2019 is to provide for the control of Stable Fly in each area to which the management plan relates.  This includes the Shires of Chittering, Gingin and Wanneroo and the City of Swan in our region.

The major changes in Plan 2019 from the previous version are:

  • All areas in the declared local government areas are subject to Plan 2019, not just agricultural land.
  • Burial of waste (animal, vegetable or mineral) likely to breed Stable Fly is required to be under a minimum of 1 metre of soil.
  • Transportation of Untreated Poultry Manure (UPM) to registered composting sites will be free of red tape.
  • Transportation of UPM to a dryland pasture (not irrigated) for the purpose of spreading will be accepted, providing the following guidelines are complied with:
    • The local government is informed at least 3 days prior spreading
    • No more than 10 tonnes per hectare is spread
    • The manure is spread evenly
    • The manure is not stockpiled on site
    • There are no particles > 20 mm in size
    • There is to be no repeat spreading within 3 months
    • No spreading is to be closer than 500 m from a residence
  • Any part of the crop that remains in or on the soil must be incorporated into the soil by means of a mouldboard or counter rotating plough, followed by compaction with a 5 tonne/square meter roller, or rotary hoe the waste 5 times in 5 days to desiccate and crush the waste.
  • Fodder (hay and silage) must be spread thinly on paddocks or fed on a hard stand area.
  • Waste vegetables must be fed to stock in a box or trough; feeding directly on soil is not permitted.
  • Control measures such as slash, spray and water approved in the previous plan will be moved to the Approved Measures category published on the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website for a period of 2 years to allow industry to transition from the old to the new measures.

Considerable research and scientific testing has been undertaken to prove that the above new measures are the most effective ways to reduce stable fly breeding. The Shire of Chittering has trained stable fly inspectors who can be contacted regarding stable fly complaints.  Initially contact the Principal Environmental Health Officer on 95764614 to discuss your complaint or email