Chesapeake Bay Introduced Species Database

Stomoxys calcitrans

Common name(s):
Stable Fly
Image courtesy of Jim Kalisch, Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Chesapeake Bay Status:

First Record
Boundary Resident

Source Region
Native Region
Europe Eurasia

Vector(s) of Introduction
Agriculture(Agricultural Weed),Shipping(unspecified)

History of Spread:

Stomoxys calcitrans (Stable Fly), 'has followed man and his domestic animals around the world; furthermore it has caught up with them. It is often called the biting housefly' (Cole 1969). This fly may be of African origin, but it has apparently been associated with humans and their domestic animals for many centuries before its description in 1762 (Cole 1969; Howard 1920). It was first reported from North America by Fabricius in 1781 (Stone et al. 1965), and is now distributed from Canada to Argentina (Cole 1969). This fly is most commonly associated with dwellings and barnyards, and is regarded as a serious agricultural pest in much of its range, because of its biting of livestock (Frank et al. 1997; Pickens et al. 1992; Simmons and Dove 1941; Simmons 1944, Skidmore 1985). It also constitutes a major problem on shorelines, where it breeds in piles of stranded aquatic plants. Specific reports of shoreline infestations are from the Gulf Coast (FL, AL, MS) (Simmons and Dove 1941) and from Currituck Sound NC (Apperson et al. 1980).

Stomoxys calcitrans probably arrived in the Chesapeake Bay region soon after the arrival of European colonists and their animals. It is probably widespread in terrestrial habitats throughout the Bay watershed. It was abundant on a Piedmont farm near Clarksville MD (Howard County) (Pickens et al. 1992). Adults of S. calcitrans were found in brackish tidal marshes at Kent (Queen Anne's County) and Deal Islands (Somerset County) on the Eastern Shore of MD (Bickley and Seek 1975). In Currituck Sound NC, larvae of S. calcitrans were found in decomposing Myriophyllum spicatum (Eurasian Watermilfoil), following the invasion of that plant (Apperson and Axtell 1981). Similar infestations are likely to have occurred in the Chesapeake with invasions of M. spicatum in the 1950's and 60's, and with Hydrilla verticillata (Hydrilla) in the 1980's. The breeding of noxious insects was mentioned as one of the consequences of the M. spicatum outbreak in the Chesapeake (Stevenson and Confer 1978), but this species was not specifically mentioned.

Native aquatic plants, including freshwater submerged aquatic vegetation species [e.g., Vallisneria americana (Wild Celery), seagrasses (in FL Thalassia spp. and Halophila spp.; in the Chesapeake Zostera marina (Eelgrass), and Ruppia maritima (Widgeongrass), and seaweeds (Enteromorpha sp., Sargassum sp.) also make a good breeding medium for this fly (Simmons and Dove 1941).

History References - Apperson and Axtell 1981; Bickley and Seek 1975; Cole 1969; Frank et al. 1997; Howard 1920; Pickens et al. 1992; Simmons 1944; Simmons and Dove 1941; Skidmore 1985; Stevenson and Confer 1978; Stone et al. 1965

Invasion Comments:

Residency - Stomoxys calcitrans is predominantly terrestrial in its habits, and is known most commonly from barnyards, stables, etc., where it breeds in damp, decomposing vegetation (Cole 1969; Swain 1947). However, another common habitat is intertidal strandlines, where this fly breeds in accumulated submerged aquatic vegetation and seaweeds (Apperson and Axtell 1981; Bickley and Seek 1975; Simmons and Dove 1941). Therefore we list it here as a boundary resident.

Source Region - Stomoxys calcitrans may be of tropical, possibly African origin, but has long been associated with domestic animals in Europe (Cole 1969; Frank et al. 1997; Skidmore 1985).

This data was last modified on Wednesday, September 28th, 2005.
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