24 May 2022

Buzz off: Trouble with flies? - Wild About Wildlife

Buzz off: Trouble with flies? - Wild About Wildlife

A female fly can lay over 500 eggs in just under a month | Picture: Pixabay

I got a call from a friend of mine as his sister was having trouble with flies. She rents a house and guests were arriving in a few days and she was at a loss as to what to do? He asked could I gave her a call and the following day we had a long conversation.

Every morning for the last few weeks she has been finding flies in the upstairs bedroom. The last residents were students and we discussed that this might be the potential problem.

Flies need a food source to complete their life cycle. The female lays over 500 eggs and lives for just under a month. The eggs hatch into small whitish larva. During the hot summer days we had to keep the tins of cat food tightly closed. Any tin left unguarded was soon wriggling with fly larva.

Another source of flies was the fruit bowl. Some of the apples and oranges had started to ripen and if you lifted one of them up the tiny fruit flies rose up in a swarm. They were also present in the compost bucket under the sink. This problem was easily solved by getting an enclosed compost bin.

Fruit flies are more of a nuisance and do no real harm.

The lady had already checked around the house and found no food. I asked about the windows but in a safety conscious world these are kept tightly secured.

I was running out of ideas when she mentioned that she had observed a few of the same species of fly on the back wall of the house. Next we remembered an old press upstairs that is built into the floor. There is gaps between the timbers on the floor and that is where the flies were gaining access to the room. She was going to seal up the gap and this simple job will hopefully solve the fly problem.

Climate change is also playing a role. The normally cold autumn and winters kill of the adult flies with only their eggs or larva surviving. Milder weather helps flies to live deeper into the year and they will also move into our warmer home.

There are over 3000 species of flies in Ireland and they are much maligned creatures. For example the common bluebottle is called the “filthy fly “but it only living on dirty habits. Dumping of household waste is a major problem in the forest tracks around my house. This creates swarms of buzzing flies. Improved hygiene and waste disposal in enclosed bins has dramatically improved the situation.

Flies do a very important ecological role. They play a role in pollination but bees do they the work of the flower work. They are also food for countless birds and especially our summer trio if swallow, swift and house martin.

Controlling flies does not mean reaching for the fly killer all the time. In my house I have allowed natural control to balance the population in check. There are plenty of spiders in every room and window sill and these caught countless flies throughout the year.

When we were younger myself and my brother stayed with my grandmother while our house was been built. There was not much on the telly for kids at that time and after dinner we would still have loads of energy. My uncles would wrap up a newspaper and give one to each of us.

Our job was to track down and swat flies and my grandmother heart would be in her mouth as we raced around the house.

Years later when we visited as adults it was disappointing to see that sticky fly paper had replaced our fun and games. Flies have multiple eyes or really lens and they have an all-round view making it very hard to sneak up on them. They also have amazing mobility been able to side in any direction in the blink of an eye.

This product is sometimes used in glasshouse and I have often come across bats that have met a sticky end while chasing the flies.


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