The fly: Controlling the neighborhood pest

AUBURN – Katelyn Kesheimer, an entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said like other areas in nature, Alabama is home to a diverse population of flies.
Fly populations increase during warm weather when there are plenty of food sources and breeding habitats.
“The warm, humid weather during the summertime makes for a great environment for flies,” she said. “Warmer temperatures speed up their development, and we may see higher populations and more generations under these conditions.”
Flies do not automatically plan to make a beeline to a person’s home. There has to be something in the area that attracts them. While a major attractor, lighting is not the only attractant. Strong smells will also cause these critters to descend upon a household. Items that could attract flies include trash, compost, garden or yard debris, damaged or rotten fruits or animal waste.
“Primarily, flies are seeking shelter in our homes and may or may not breed indoors,” Kesheimer said. “Some are just passing through, while others will feed and reproduce in the home.”
Flies such as fungus gnats, drain flies and fruit flies will breed rapidly inside a home, becoming extremely irritating. While most flies are more of a nuisance than anything, Kesheimer said some flies can be contaminated with bacteria that is harmful to humans.
“This is primarily for flies that are outdoors and breed in manure, garbage or carrion,” she said.
These flies can carry illness-causing bacteria and transmit them to humans. This is why prompt control of fly populations is important for homeowners.

The best way to control flies is by preventing them from entering the home in the first place.
“Sealing any areas in your home that would provide an easy entry way will certainly help,” she said. “Utilizing screens or caulk to fill in cracks will be helpful in preventing infestations.”
Kesheimer offers the following options for controlling flies inside the home:
The best control method is to get rid of potential food sources. Flies will feed on things like fruit, organic matter in house plants and organic matter in shallow water. Fruit that is ripe or overripe should be eaten, covered and refrigerated or disposed of.
“Take out the trash regularly, and clean up spilled food or liquids,” Kesheimer said, who warns that while chemical insecticides are available, they should only be used as a last resort.
“If you follow proper sanitation procedures, utilize physical barriers and physical removal, then the need for insecticides will be minimal.”
Kesheimer said it is equally as important to manage conditions outside so as to not attract more flies.
“Sanitation is as important outside as it is inside,” she said. “Sanitation is the key to preventing large populations in and around your home.”
For more information on controlling home pests, visit

See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
Subscribe now!