A rolled newspaper, a flyswatter or even the palm of your hand can all be weapons in your battle for fly control. These tiny creatures are often a harmless nuisance, but there may come a time to consider a pest control service. Sometimes fly season just doesn’t seem to end.
When people think about flies, the first thing to come to mind is often the common house fly; however, there are many more species. Flies are classified as part of the order Diptera, which is estimated to have a million species, but only 125,000 have been described. The following are species you may encounter:
The Anatomy of a Fly
Flies are characterized by having a single pair of wings used for flight, while the hindwings have evolved into sensory organs. These sensory organs facilitate their ability to maneuver. If you’ve ever wondered why fly control can be so difficult, this added maneuverability is part of the reason. Flies have mobile heads and compound eyes that allow them to see information from a variety of angles. Depending on the species, flies can have a mouthpiece designed to pierce and suck in nutrients or to lap and suck in nutrients. These insects also have an ability to cling to smooth surfaces and walk up walls due to the claws and pads on their feet.
Because of the diversity of fly species, some have developed hardy adaptations to their environment. Shore fly larvae and a few Chironomidae can live in hot springs, crude oil, sulfur springs, glaciers, saline springs and septic tanks. The larvae of the Megaselia scalaris can incorporate shoe polish and paint into their diet.
A Bug’s Life Cycle
The life cycle of a fly consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The common house fly provides a typical example. House flies lay eggs that resemble grains of white rice. These eggs are often laid in dark, damp places. Compost, garbage and feces are popular sites for fly eggs. Up to 150 eggs can be laid in a single batch, with five or six batches laid over a period of a few days.
The eggs hatch within a day and become larva, also known as maggots, that feed on their environment for three to five days. When the maggots are ready to pupate, they find a dark place to form a protective shell, similar to a butterfly’s cocoon. The pupae grow wings and legs and emerge after three to six days as fully-grown house flies.
It only takes another two to three days for female flies to be ready for reproduction, thus starting the cycle anew. Moreover, adult house flies can live for two to four weeks, depending on conditions. This rapid life cycle can make fly control a difficult process.
The Ecological Importance of Flies
While flies can be both a nuisance and a danger, they also play an important role in the ecological community as predator, prey and parasite. Many animals rely on flies as a source of food, while at the same time, flies consume various organic matter. Some of these insects play an important role in helping to decompose matter in either their adult or larva stage.
In addition to aiding decomposition, flies play an integral role in the pollination of flowers. It’s estimated that 71 families in the order Diptera regularly visit flowers, and over 550 species of flower are routinely visited by flies. Depending on the local ecology, flies may be the only insect that facilitates a plant’s pollination, or they may share the role with another insect such as bees. Some flies go to flowers to feed on the nectar while others prefer pollen. A few types visit flowers to lay eggs or to seek shelter from the weather. Some flowering plants exercise fly control by tricking the insects into visiting their flowers by emitting scents that mimic decaying flesh.
The Risks Posed by Flies
Flies can pose serious dangers to the health and wellbeing of humans and livestock. Because many flies land on and feed on decomposing flesh, feces and other bacteria-laden garbage, they can quickly spread bacteria and disease. A common method of fly feeding involves vomiting and defecating on almost everything they land on, which further aides in the spread of disease.
One way to prevent the spread of sickness is to dispose of food that flies have landed on. A fly infestation could potentially facilitate the transfer of any of the following diseases:
Other flies such as the mosquito prefer a more direct approach by biting their victims. Mosquitoes are responsible for the deaths of 1 million people each year due to the diseases these insects can spread. The lack of fly control is a serious concern in all parts of the world though areas with large amounts of standing water can be more severely affected.
In the United States, one of the most serious diseases carried by mosquitoes is the West Nile virus. Since 1999, the United States has reported 44,000 cases. About half of those reported cases resulted in an infection of the spinal cord and brain, and 1,900 people died. West Nile can cause body aches, headache, rash, fatigue, weakness, diarrhea and joint pain. If you suspect you may have contracted an illness by a mosquito or other fly, contact your physician.
Prevention and Eradication Strategies
With so many different species of fly to contend with, fly control can be a difficult challenge. There are a few steps you can take to minimize your risk of infestations:
If these steps aren’t enough to address your fly problems, it may be time to call a Baton Rouge pest control service to professionally address the issue. Your hand or newspaper may end the annoyance of an individual fly, but professional services have the experience and equipment to deal with more comprehensive fly control issues.
Whether they're buzzing around your head while you read or chasing you down as you tend to your garden, flies are, at best, annoying. At worst, they are dangerous. Certain types of flies can bite and cause blisters, and even harmless houseflies aren't so harmless in the long run. Learn about the flies in Louisiana and how to go about fly control in this quick guide.
Types of Flies in Louisiana
Louisiana is home to hundreds of insect and arachnid species, including several types of flies:
● Bee-Like Tachinid Fly: These flies are lethal predators, but only to insects that most humans find to be problematic anyway. They mostly feed on moth species and often do it from the inside out. These flies are typically found in marshes and flowers.
● Deer Fly: Although related to the horse fly, deer flies are smaller. Even so, their bite is still painful and can cause welts. As the name implies, these flies usually feed on deer, but have no problem gnawing on a human if presented with one. Once they settle into a habitat, it is difficult to get rid of them.
● Fishfly: Large in size and seeming to be uncoordinated in the air, fishflies' jaws look like saw-like teeth. They are often found near the vegetation above moving water and are mostly active at night. They eat other aquatic insects, worms and algae.
● Yellow Fly: These flies look much like deer flies and are just as unwelcome. The females prefer to eat blood and will quickly target a human's head and ears. They also bother the backs, legs and faces of farm animals. Bites from a yellow fly become red and irritated and are often painful. Many humans are allergic and end up with painful blisters. These flies are most active around dusk in the months of May and June and a big reason for fly control needs.
● Common Green Bottle Fly: These flies are, as the name implies, common and likely to be found in and around your home. They eat dead animals and rotting foods. They not only carry disease, but also attack healthy sheep on occasion. These attacks can result in death if not treated.
● Flesh Fly: Like the common greenbottle fly, flesh flies feed on the skin and organs of dying animals, including humans. They may also eat feces and rotting foods. They are most active in spring and summer, and can be found anywhere from fields to parking lots.
Why Flies Are a Problem
When it comes to bacteria and disease, common houseflies are the biggest problem. These flies have always been known to carry diseases, but in recent years, researchers from the United States, Brazil, Germany and Singapore have discovered that flies are an even larger problem than previously thought. Not only do they transfer bacteria simply by landing on food or other surfaces, but they transfer many more types than previously thought. This means they are particularly problematic for businesses that rely on food production to survive. Fly control is an essential aspect of doing business for these companies.
Potential Diseases Flies Can Carry
The various fly species found in homes and businesses transfer a wide variety of bacteria. The most common bacterium in flies is Psychrobacter sp. Prwf-1. This bacterium is in about 25 percent of housefly samples. While normally existing in cold environments, the strain easily adapts to warm ones and is closely associated with food spoilage. A range of other problematic bacteria was found as well:
● Enterobacter cloacae: This bacterium is widespread and can cause a range of health problems, including lower respiratory issues, skin and soft tissue infections. It can also contaminate intravenous medical devices.
● Staphylococcus: Increasingly common, this bacterium is often found in hospitals, but can be in homes as well. It typically infects open wounds and may lead to more serious issues.
● Acinetobacter baumannii: Widely found in nature, this bacterium is known for causing urinary tract infections, secondary meningitis and several other health issues typically picked up in hospitals.
● Enterococcus faecalis: This is a normal component of the gut, but can cause serious issues when there is too much of it. Infections can be life-threatening due to the bacterium's resistance to antibiotics.
● E. coli: There are many types of E. coli, and six of them can cause gastroenteritis if you have contact with contaminated food or water.
● Salmonella enterica: Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning and one of the most important reasons that fly control is important.
Other common bacteria found in flies includes Bacillus cereus, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Helicobacter pylori.
How Flies Contaminate Your Space
Flies transmit bacteria in one of three ways. Most commonly, they contaminate food, humans and surfaces when they land. However, they also transmit bacteria when they regurgitate during feeding or via excrement. Their legs and feet are most commonly covered in the microorganisms.
How to Prevent Flies
It is nearly impossible to completely prevent houseflies. They tend to follow you in as you enter and exit your home or business. However, there are ways to keep them from multiplying and becoming a problem. The easiest way to prevent houseflies or fruit flies from taking over your home or business is to keep it clean. If you use a garbage disposal, keep it clean and run it often. Never leave organic material in the drain. Take the garbage out often, and use disinfectants to prevent bacteria from traveling throughout your home or business. Clean your garbage cans often, and never leave standing water, such as that in buckets, around for flies to land in.
When to Call Pest Control
No matter how hard you try to prevent flies, sometimes, do-it-yourself fly control simply isn't enough. If keeping food put away and cleaning often hasn't helped you to get rid of the housefly or fruit fly problem on your property, it is important to call a professional. Pest control companies have the tools, knowledge and experience necessary to remove the problem and help you find ways to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Without the proper fly control, these insects can easily take over your home or business, leaving you and your family sick, or your company unable to operate properly. When at-home remedies don't work, hire a reputable and licensed Baton Rouge pest control company. Doing so could mean the difference between saving your business and going bankrupt.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.