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Of the thousands of species of flies, only a few are common pests in and around the home. Four of the more frequent pests are the house fly (Musca domestica), the face fly (Musca autumnalis), the stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans), and the little house fly (Fannia spp.). These pests breed in filthy locations from which they can contaminate food and transmit diseases; stable flies feed on mammalian blood.
All flies undergo complete metamorphosis [32K] with egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages in their development. The female fly deposits her eggs in moist organic material where the larvae, or "maggots," complete their development. When the maggots have completed their development and are ready to undergo the next step in their metamorphosis, they convert their last larval skin into the puparium, a hardened shell within which the pupa develops. The pupa then transforms into the adult fly, which pops off the end of the puparium and emerges. By pumping body fluids into the veins, the fly unfolds and expands its wings, allowing them to dry and harden before it can fly. Under optimal conditions the egg-to-adult development may require as little as 7 to 10 days. Once the female fly has mated, she can lay several batches of eggs, typically containing over 100 eggs each.
While humans are most commonly bothered by the adult stage, the larval stage should be the prime target for control. Elimination of larval habitat is the preferred method of pest fly suppression. By removing the material in which larvae develop, the life cycle of the fly can be broken, preventing subsequent production of the adult pests. While chemical pesticides may be necessary for suppressing adult fly populations in some situations, they are not a substitute for prevention through the elimination of breeding sites. Because flies can quickly develop resistance to insecticides in a few generations, use them only as a last resort to obtain immediate control.
Under favorable conditions the house fly can reproduce prodigiously because of its short generation time and the large number of eggs produced by each female--several batches of about 150 eggs. Eggs are laid in warm, moist, organic materials such as manure, garbage, lawn clippings, decaying vegetables and fruits, or soils contaminated with any of these materials. Under good conditions the eggs hatch in less than a day. The cream-colored larvae can then complete development within a week. Larvae [32K] of the house fly have a blunt posterior end and taper to a point at the head end. Larvae seek drier areas to pupate. Pupation lasts 4 to 5 days and a generation can be completed in less than 2 weeks; during the summer 10 to 12 generations can develop.
Management of House Flies
Fly papers or ribbons are effective at eliminating a few flies, but are not effective enough to manage heavy infestations. Inverted cone traps can be effective if the food attractant used draws flies, but they cannot compete with garbage or other aromatic substances in the surrounding area. Bug zappers should only be used indoors and not be visible from the outside through windows or open doorways. Bug zappers outdoors or improper placement indoors can attract more flies than they kill. They should also not be used near food preparation areas because they may actually result in increased food contamination with insect parts.
Selective use of insecticides against house flies is one component of a total fly management program but should only be used after all possible nonchemical strategies have been employed. To kill flies indoors, a nonresidual pyrethrin space spray or aerosol can be used. Keep the room closed for several minutes after treatment until all the flies are dead. Outside, apply residual insecticides to surfaces such as walls and ceilings that are being used by the flies as resting areas. Fly baits used in trash areas are effective in reducing the number of flies around buildings if good sanitation practices are followed. When flies have access to garbage, however, they will not be controlled by baits. Always follow the directions on the insecticide label for safe application.
Adults are approximately one-half to two-thirds the size of the house fly, Musca domestica, and they lack its distinctive thoracic markings. Fannia at rest hold their wings more over the back than Musca, creating a narrower V-shape to the wing outline. Flying clusters of male Fannia typically form in areas with still air; these milling groups maintain a position 5 or 6 feet above the ground.
Females typically spend most of their time feeding and laying eggs near the larval development site. The immature stages are adapted to tolerate a wide moisture range in the larval development substrate. Egg laying and larval development frequently occur in animal wastes, but various moist organic materials can serve as suitable substrates. Larvae of Fannia spp. [32K] are brown in color and spiny. Backyard compost heaps and decomposing piles of grass clippings can produce large numbers of Fannia.
Strong air currents tend to disperse the male aggregations. As temperatures decline, they seek cover in buildings or protective vegetation. As temperatures rise in late spring and early summer, populations of Fannia diminish. In southern California Fannia are the main pest fly from November to June, with Musca domestica assuming major pest status between June and November.
Management of Little House Flies
Female face flies lay their tiny stalked eggs in fresh manure. The yellowish larvae feed on the manure until mature, when they crawl away to a suitable site and pupate in the soil. The life cycle is completed in about 2 weeks.
The best nonchemical control method is to vacuum the flies off the surfaces on which they are resting. In areas inaccessible to vacuuming, a residual insecticide such as a pyrethroid can be applied. For application of residual insecticides, contact a reputable pest control company. Dusts are ideal formulations for use in void spaces, but avoid bendiocarb or boric acid dusts because they have given poor results. To prevent future infestations, cracks on the outside that may serve as entry points for flies should be sealed.
Identification and Life Cycle
Depending on weather conditions, stable flies typically appear in mid-spring, become severe in early summer, and decrease in numbers by late summer. During prime breeding times in summer, the stable fly can develop from egg to adult in just 2 weeks. The female fly lays over 100 eggs per batch and may lay four or five such batches in her lifetime, so there is potential for rapid population increases. Piles of moist, decaying plant refuse (grass clippings, hay, silage, etc.) should be considered potential sources of stable flies; this is where female stable flies lay their eggs and where the larvae develop. Larvae of the stable fly resemble larvae of the house fly. Stable flies do not breed in pure, fresh manure but will develop quite well in manure mixed with hay or other plant material, especially when dampened by urine. Backyard compost heaps and piles of grass clippings are ideal breeding sites for stable fly larvae and may serve as the production source for an entire neighborhood infestation.
Management of Stable Flies
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