Separate groups of 3 oestrid-free lambs were exposed to infestation on irrigated pasture for periods of approximately 33 days each over 30 months, and on dry-land pasture for approximately 42 days over a period of 18 months. With some exceptions, the lambs slaughtered from October – June were found to be infested with Oestrus ovis while, with one exception, those slaughtered from July - September were free.
A minimum of 4 sheep’s heads, obtained weekly over 24 months from the Pretoria Municipal Abattoir, was examined for infestation. Of a total of 542 heads examined, 73, 4% were infested, having a mean burden of 15, 2 larvae.
Mean larval burdens were slightly greater in hornless than in horned sheep, in Dorper-type than in Merino-type sheep, and in lambs than in sheep with 2 or more permanent incisors. The largest larval burdens were recovered from sheep slaughtered during May and June and the smallest during September and October. The greatest number of 1st instar larvae were recovered during
May and June and the smallest during September, but those recovered during the latter month were the largest.
With one exception, mature larvae which pupated after 21 March or before 16 August failed to hatch as viable flies. Those which pupated after 16 August hatched as flies after a pupal stage of approximately 50 days and the first flies to hatch were invariably recovered during the first 2 weeks of October. The pupal stage decreased to approximately 25 days during December and January and increased again to approximately 50 days for flies hatching during May. No flies hatched between
18 May and 1 October.
The following life cycle for Oestrus ovis is suggested: sheep are repeatedly infested from October - June; thereafter infestation survives in the sheep’s' heads until August, mainly as 1st instar larvae, then as pupae and larvae until fresh infestation takes place during October.