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Shoo flies out of your house
Grass is always greener...
Richard Evans
Richard Evans is Extension agent for Bryan County. - photo by File photo

Cold days are fewer and fewer as we approach spring. And as warm weather approaches it brings insects, some of which you might already be finding in your homes. I know I am.

I’ve recently received a number of calls regarding an invasion of little flies that seem to skip/hop around countertops and walls. One common type is the phorid (FOUR-id) fly also known as humpbacked fly, due to its noticeable hump. These little flies are pesky and can be hard to get rid of.

Phorid flies are found in many types of moist, decaying organic material. They can be found in drains, trash containers, rotting food, infrequently used garbage disposals, dirty mops and old dish rags, potting soil, organic material on the bottom of pet cages, and sewage from broken sewer lines. They can occur in large numbers and become a significant nuisance. Phorid flies can potentially transmit diseases because they visit rotting foods and unclean areas.

Although this can happen, they are generally not considered a medical problem. But we still don’t want them in our homes, right? Your first impulse might be to grab a can of insecticide and kill them, but please refrain. Sanitation is the best control.

You’ve got to reduce or eliminate fly breeding and feeding habitats. The proper management of garbage, yard and garden wastes, and dead animals reduces the availability of resources that are critical for the development of pesky flies. For those who keep livestock manure, management reduces habitats for flies. Cleaning drains minimizes the risk of moth flies and phorid flies, while reducing excess moisture will limit potential breeding sites for gnats and phorid flies.

Household waste management is critical to sanitation. Use plastic garbage can liners inside trashcans. When plastic liners are full, close them tightly and take them outside to another garbage can. Make sure garbage cans have tight-fitting lids and that they are cleaned whenever waste accumulates in the bottom or sides. Take that garbage to the landfill or burn it as early as possible.

For composters, compost piles are an environmentally friendly way of recycling refuse. However, because they consist of decaying organic materials, they can serve as breeding sites for all kinds of flies and gnats. However, well-managed compost piles normally generate significant heat during decay, which minimizes fly survival. If flies become a problem around your compost pile, one solution is to cover it with black plastic sheeting. The plastic serves as a barrier to flies and traps heat.

Other sanitary measures include spreading or burying animal manure and other wet waste. Removing, incinerating or burying dead animals is another important practice. It is also useful to remove overripe fruits and vegetables from the garden or incorporate them into the soil. If possible, reduce watering and organic matter of potted plants. Cleaning drains regularly or reducing moisture problems through ventilation and other means may help eliminate household fly infestations.

The result is worth the extra effort and should be a long-term solution to the problem.

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