By Brian S.
No matter what nation you hail from flies are a major nuisance. Besides having filthy habits and being really annoying, they transmit diseases. Flies are directly linked to the spread of typhoid, cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, pinworms, roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. That’s because the disease causing organisms they pick up from garbage, sewage, rotting animal carcasses, and feces of all types are transferred straight to the food you eat, your eating utensils, and your food preparation areas. So it’s a no brainer flies should be kept as far away as possible from your kitchen and the rest of your household.
If you live in a house with a garden, the battle to eradicate flies begins outdoors. That means, if you have a pet, scooping your pet’s poop daily because flies feast and deposit their eggs on animal droppings. Remember to bag it, bury it or flush it. Reconnoiter your property and drain any stagnant water, clean up areas with mold and mildew, and get rid of any decaying piles of clutter. While you’re at it, clear away any brush and tall grass, trim up shrubbery and prune trees to deny flies their protection. If you are a die-hard gardener and insist on having a compost pile, don’t keep the heap too moist, and place it as far from the house as possible. On a final note immediately dispose of any dead animals like rats or birds should they turn-up on or near your property.
If the fly problem persists, consider installing an electric bug-zapper. Zappers use a ultra-violet (UV) bulb to attract flying insects to an electrified screen where they are zapped! Because the bugs explode on impact, sending limbs, wings and thoraxes flying, situate the zapper far away from porches, patios, and barbeques. Ideally, they should be about 100 feet from the house, so flies are drawn away from it, not towards it.
Fly baits use a pheromone to attract flies to the poisonous bait which can kill them in seconds. They can be placed in permanent locations or the bait can be scattered in random areas where flies congregate, such as dumpsters and garbage cans. If you have small children or pets, baits should be attached to fences, buildings or trees at a height where they cannot be reached.
Installing fly-offensive plants around the garden or in strategically placed flower pots or window boxes can discourage flies from gathering on your property. Try planting basil, lavender, mint, rosemary or a bay leaf plant. Did you know that a dry bay leaf placed inside a sack or container filled with rice or flour will keep weevils out? Also fresh rosemary sprigs and plants are effective at keeping stray cats away.
Proper sanitation is crucial when it comes to keeping flies at bay. Inside your home, always use a bin-liner and a wastebasket with a lid. When it becomes too full for the lid to close properly, or if any food scraps, especially those containing fish, poultry or meat are thrown out, immediately seal the liner and take it outside to the rubbish bin. Empty the wastebasket at least twice a week and keep it clean. Outdoors, don’t allow flies access to your garbage. Make sure all your rubbish bins have lids that fit tightly. Always use a bin-liner, unless you want the seepage from the un-bagged garbage to accumulate and decay in the bottom of the bin. Clean the outdoor rubbish bins with a disinfectant once a month. Although it may be convenient to keep bins nearby, it’s best to place them a fair distance away from the building and its doors.
The best way to keep flies out of your house, is to seal it up. This includes replacing worn weather stripping, caulking cracks and gaps, patching or replacing broken window and door screens, and making sure everything fits snugly. Don’t forget to seal plumbing, ducting, and air-conditioning entry points. Larger gaps can be sealed with an aerosol can of expandable foam.
Indoors, keep all doors and windows closed or tightly screened. Because the smell of cooking, especially grilling meat, is such a strong lure for flies, try to keep them closed when preparing meals. If you insist on having the door open, a fan pointing at its opening should keep flies outside because they don’t like wind. This is probably just an old wives’ tale, but some claim that hanging reflective objects like old CDs or clear plastic bags partially filled with water near entryways will discourage flies from entering. Who knows, it could be worth a try?
Keep any unsealed food and fruit covered to deny access to fruit flies and gnats. Most fresh fruits can also be safely stored inside a muslin bag. Clean your floors regularly and do not allow food to build up under tables or in hard-to-reach areas. If you have houseplants, make sure they are well drained and don’t over-water them. This will deny indoor gnats the moist breeding ground they require. Keep any floor drains clean and unclogged. If not, organic matter will build-up and line the plumbing, providing fruit and drain flies a perfect place to breed. Odors emanating from the drain is the first sign of trouble. The only way to remove organic build-up is to routinely use a drain gel. Acids and bleach will not work.
To control flies indoors, ‘spot baits’ which are diluted with water and sprayed are safe enough to be used inside the house. They can be sprayed directly on wastebaskets, door or window frames, and even in the dining area. Electric light traps are also effective and safe for indoor use. These perform best at night when there is no other source of light. The UV light from within, attracts flying insects to a sticky glue trap from which they cannot escape. Light traps can be used anywhere where flies are a nuisance, including dining and food preparation areas. Indoor aerosol sprays are a temporary deterrent that work well for swarms or infestations. Look for a spray containing the natural chemical ‘pyrethrum’ which is lethal to most insects. You can also make a ‘green’ insecticide. This homemade concoction is capable of killing flies and is safe to use around children and pets. Simply mix two tablespoons of ordinary dish soap into a spray bottle filled with water, shake it gently and spray to your heart’s content.
When proper sanitation and some common sense are combined with a modest amount of housekeeping both inside and outside, you should be able to dramatically reduce the fly population and hopefully, render your fly swatter obsolete.