Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Fly Files: Domesticated House Flies

This article advises against rearing house flies as pets and explores some interesting house fly facts relevant to its control.

Different folks different strokes

Flies are a large and extremely diverse group of insects, including beneficial predators such as the robber flies and hover flies, nectar-feeding pollinating bee-flies and even bot flies that snack on human flesh. The fly group also includes mosquitoes, house flies (discussed here) and other common pest flies.

A filthy stalker

The house fly (Musca domestica) is a common cosmopolitan pest. This domesticated human-loving critter likes to hang out in and around our homes. It is quite the stalker, having followed humans to the farthest reaches of the planet. While it wants nothing more than to share our food and is even content to dine on our scraps, house flies don’t make very good pets for the average homeowner. For one, these two-winged beasties can transmit some nasty stomach bugs such as Salmonella, Shigella and Escherichia that could lay you out for days, or worse. This is also true for most common pest flies except the blood-feeding stable flies, which aren’t disease carriers.

Flies have bad table manners
Flies aren’t finicky feeders and love a varied diet of organic materials such as manure, garbage and your home-made meal, on occasion. Sharing food with a fly wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t have such unrefined table manners. Flies have an offensive habit of vomiting on their (or your) dinner, then
sponging up that puke with the additional pre-digested soupy goop. These critters also have abominable bowel control and poop everywhere. It doesn’t help that they have taste buds on their feet either - they will toddle all over your food before deciding to eat it. Ironically, flies are meticulous groomers that primp and preen constantly.

First, Identi-fly

So, you have determined that flies are the enemy that must be exterminated. Before you initiate an anti-fly rampage and come out guns blazing against a fly, first make sure it is a pest fly by confirming its identity. It’s worth keeping in mind that there are some beneficials such as robber flies and hover flies that eat pests and you really don’t want to take out these innocents.

Fry that Fly

Sticky fly traps, sprays and baits get pesky adult flies, as with some neat fly zapper gadgets that vaporize the little beasties to a crisp. The old-fashioned time-tested fly swatter works well too. Flies have a near 360-degree field of view with a rear-ward blind spot, so sneak up on them from behind. Their huge eyes pick up quick movements, so you should slowly maneuver your swatter into place. Then, swat! Don’t swat or place fly-frying devices near where food is made or served. The explosive manner in which the critters are killed will assuredly result in various vile fly bits and guts deposited on your food. The entire arsenal of fly-killing weaponry discussed above won’t be very effective against fly babies, which hang out in the garbage and manure. These and any other potential fly incubators are where your efforts are best focused because a single female fly can produce a swarm of 500 progeny in little more than a week. For more tips on how to find and eliminate larval breeding sites in and around your home, stay tuned for my next post!

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