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Insect Pests

Common House Fly (Musca domestica)

Characteristics: medium-sized flies about 0.65 cm in length.
Behaviour: the house fly is the most common and ubiquitous fly on the planet, being found everywhere humans ae found except possibly the coldest reaches of the Arctic and Antarctic. Because it frequents unsanitary areas, such as garbage and manure, this flies considered a possible health risk and its presence indoors should be minimized.


Because they have sponging mouthparts, house flies cannot bite; however, they may play an important role in disease transmission to humans and animals. House flies serve as carriers of disease agents due to their predilection for feeding on animal wastes, garbage, and human foods. House flies are known to carry bacteria and viruses that cause conditions such as diarrhea, cholera, food poisoning, yaws, dysentery, and eye infections.

Management of House Flies

Flies found inside a building have entered from the outside in almost all cases. Therefore, barriers preventing access to the building are the first line of defense. Cracks around windows and doors where flies may enter should be sealed. Well-fitted screens will also limit their access to buildings. Outdoors, regular removal (at least once a week) and disposal of organic waste, including dog feces and rotting fruit, reduces the attractiveness of the area to adult flies and limits their breeding sites. Garbage should not be allowed to accumulate and should be placed in plastic bags and held in containers with tight-fitting lids. Garbage should also be placed as far from a building entrance as is practicable. In general, poor exclusion and lack of sanitation are the major contributors to fly problems.

Sticky fly papers or ribbons are effective at eliminating a few flies in relatively confined areas, but are not effective enough to manage heavy infestations or to provide control in an outdoor setting. Inverted cone traps containing fly food attractants can be readily purchased commercially and are effective when they are not competing with nearby garbage or animal wastes. The fly food attractants used in these inverted cone traps will be quite foul smelling, so the traps should be placed at some distance from occupied structures. Fly traps using ultraviolet light may be effective when used indoors where they are not competing with daytime sunlight. For control of just a few flies, the time-tested fly swatter is appropriate. Don’t use fly swatters near food preparation areas because they may result in contaminating food with insect body parts.

Selective use of insecticides against house flies is one component of a total fly management program, but should only be used after all possible nonchemical strategies have been employed. In most home situations, pesticides are not needed or recommended. Sanitation methods along with screens to keep flies out of the home should be sufficient. If sanitation efforts are not possible, a nonresidual pyrethrin aerosol may be used. Outside, a professional pest control company can be hired to apply residual insecticides to surfaces such as walls and overhangs that are being used by the flies as resting areas. Fly baits used in trash areas may be effective in reducing the number of adult flies if proper sanitation practices are followed. However, when flies have access to garbage, baits will not control them.

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