Those old-time Chinese warriors had some pretty sage wisdom — know your enemy. To that, modern combatants in the annual Fly Wars add that it's a good idea to know your weapons, as well.

So, as you're girding your loins for another battle with the winged enemy that torments cattle and drains profits in pastures nationwide, consider the species you will face and the options you have for control.

First, the flies

There are a variety of flies that use cattle as a host — horn flies, stable flies, face flies, and horse and deer flies. The two of greatest interest are horn flies and stable flies. And of these, the only one you can really do anything about is horn flies.

Horn flies are those bugs that stay on cattle all the time, usually bunched up in a mass along the withers and down the back to the tailhead. In the heat of the summer sun, horn flies will also mass on the shady underside of the animal. These flies will only leave the animal to fly down to a fresh cow patty and lay eggs. However, before they find an animal host, they can travel quite a distance, meaning you and your neighbors can swap flies throughout the fly season.

Stable flies, on the other hand, congregate on the legs. Unlike horn flies, stable flies will only land on an animal when seeking a blood meal. Once satiated, they fly off to complete their life cycle. Horse and deer flies are similar, dive-bombing an animal, taking a blood meal, then leaving. Face flies, which are more of a problem in the upper Midwest and Northeast, feed on the secretions from the eye and nose.