Treating your facility rather than your pigs is the key to controlling pesky insect bites, according to the National Pork Board.

“Unnecessary swine carcass trimming occurs each year as a result of these insect bites that show up on the pig’s skin as red, raised lesions,” reports Eric Neumann, DVM, director of swine health information and research for the Pork Board. “Traditionally, this problem crops up in the spring and the fall.”

Insect bites affect pigs both outdoors and indoors.

“From an animal welfare standpoint, insect bites cause discomfort for the animal,” says Neumann. “Also, biting insects have the capability to be a vector (an organism that carries disease-causing microorganisms from one host to another) of unknown consequence.”

Producers should take the following steps to minimize the damage of insect bites:

  • Eliminate areas of standing water, prime spots for insects to reproduce and hatch.
  • Mow grass and weeds around swine barns. “These tend to be some of the last things that producers get around to, because they don’t think they affect production,” says Neumann. “This is about more than aesthetics though. The extra time required is well worth it, since it reduces areas that can harbor insects.”
  • Use insecticides labeled for use in swine buildings. Insecticides containing permethrin will repel mosquitoes and biting insects before they strike, and insects that feed on swine. “Use only those products labeled for use in swine or in swine buildings, and follow the pre-slaughter withdrawal periods listed for the product,” he cautions.

  • Apply insect screens to swine facilities. Neumann advises producers to assess the cost, maintenance and impact on air circulation before considering this option.