Freak weather causes ‘absolutely shocking’ plague of bush flies in Australia

Native species usually flourishes in spring and early summer but milder winter is increasing numbers

Stuti Mishra
Thursday 23 May 2024 12:58 BST
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An outbreak of bush flies has spread through Western Australia unusually late in the season due to milder winter temperatures.

Bush flies, a native species that usually flourishes in spring and early summer, are being seen in “shocking” numbers in May’s winter season in the western region around Perth.

Residents say they have never seen such numbers in May and the flies are impacting the number of visitors.

“It’s definitely had an impact on our tourist numbers,” Jarrod Walker, who works as a manager for the Shire of Upper Gascoyne, told ABC News, adding that it was “absolutely shocking”.

People are wearing hat nets and covering their faces with cloth to protect themselves from the flies.

The bush fly breeds in unburied livestock dung. One cow pat can produce 3,000 maggots. Hot and humid weather in Australia, as well as around the world, has greatly increased their numbers this year.

Tanya Latty, an entomologist from the University of Sydney, told ABC News that the recent warm and wet conditions were behind the bush fly boom.

“It really likes warm, humid weather,” she told the channel. “And so when we get conditions where it’s quite warm for a while, you start to get this, build up in populations.”

She added that agricultural areas were bound to experience larger numbers until temperatures dropped.

Australia is seeing a milder-than-usual winter following a hotter summer when flies were already wreaking havoc.

In 2023, an early burst of heat across the country spurred the spawning of many species of flies, including bush flies.

TikTok videos show people swatting away flies as they are attacked by swarms of them at beaches.

Australian authorities had warned that populations of bush flies would increase around the country throughout summer. But their high numbers in winter are a surprise.

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