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House Fly

Distribution and Importance

The house fly, Musca domestica L. is a well-known cosmopolitan pest of both farm and home. This species is always found in association with humans or activities of humans. This is the most common species found on hog and poultry farms, horse stables, and ranches. Not only are they a nuisance, but they also can transport disease-causing organisms. Excessive fly populations are obnoxious to farm workers, and when there are nearby human habitations a public health problem is possible.

More than 100 pathogens associated with the house fly may cause disease in humans and animals, including typhoid, cholera, bacillary dysentery, tuberculosis, anthrax ophthalmia and infantile diarrhea, as well as parasitic worms. Pathogenic organisms are picked up by flies from garbage, sewage and other sources of filth, and then transferred on their mouthparts and other body parts, through their vomitus, feces and contaminated external body parts to human and animal food.

Life Cycle and Description

The housefly has a complete metamorphosis with distinct egg, larva or maggot, pupal and adult stages. The house fly overwinters in either the larval or pupal stage under manure piles or in other protected locations. Warm summer conditions are generally optimum for the development of the house fly, and it can complete its life cycle in as little as seven to ten days, and as many as 10 to 12 generations may occur in one summer.

Damage

Flies commonly develop in large numbers in poultry manure under caged hens, and this is a serious problem requiring control. The control of Musca domestica is vital to human health and comfort in many areas of the world. The most important damage related with this insect is the annoyance and the indirect damage produced by the potential transmission of more than 100 pathogens associated with this fly.

Management

The more common control measures involved with the control of house flies are sanitation, use of traps, and insecticides, but in some instances integrated fly control has been implemented. The use of biological control in fly management is still at a relatively early stage.

Sanitation or Cultural Control

Good sanitation is the basic step in all fly management. Food and materials on which the flies can lay their eggs must be removed, destroyed as a breeding medium, or isolated from the egg-laying adult. Since the house fly can complete its life cycle in as little as seven days, removal of wet manure at least twice a week is necessary to break the breeding cycle. Wet straw should not be allowed to pile up in or near buildings. Since straw is one of the best fly breeding materials, it is not recommended as bedding. Spilled feed should not be allowed to accumulate but should be cleaned up two times a week. Ordinarily, fly control from 1 to 2 km around a municipality will prevent ingress of the house fly into a municipality.

Killing adult flies may reduce the infestation, but elimination of breeding areas is necessary for good management. Garbage cans and dumpsters should have tight-fitting lids and be cleaned regularly. Dry garbage and trash should be placed in plastic garbage bags and sealed up. All garbage receptacles should be located as far from building entrances as possible.

For control at waste disposal sites, refuse should be deposited onto the same area as inorganic wastes to deteriorate the capacity of breeding resources, or the disposed refuse should be covered with soil or other inorganic wastes (15 cm thickness) on every weekend or every other weekend.

Traps

Fly traps may be useful in some fly control programs if enough traps are used, if they are placed correctly, and if they are used both indoors and outdoors. House flies are attracted to white surfaces and to baits that give off odors. Indoors, ultraviolet light traps collect the flies inside an inverted cone or kill them with an electrocuting grid. One trap should be placed for every 30 feet of wall inside buildings, but not placed over or within five feet of food preparation areas. Recommended placement areas outdoors include near building entrances, in alleyways, beneath trees, and around animal sleeping areas and manure piles. Openings to buildings should be tightly screened with standard window screen, thereby denying entrance to flies.