While the UK isn’t renowned for a scorching climate it just takes a slight rise in temperature for the pesky flies to rear their ugly heads.
And that is when they really become a problematic and potentially costly issue for businesses; particularly those in food related industries.
So, what can businesses do about them? Well, first you need to know what you’re dealing with.
As a rule, fruit and house flies are the most common offenders to look out as the warmer weather comes in.
Houseflies are generally a half/third inch long and greyish in colour. They bear four dark, blackish stripes behind the head and one of the wing veins is distinctly and sharply bent. These features are visible to the unaided eye, but a simple magnifying glass can be used to ensure correct identification.
Most adult houseflies will travel within one mile of sites where eggs are laid and there, greasy, cream-colored larvae (or maggots) develop.
They are drawn to damp, unsanitary areas, so bins outside food processing plants or restaurants, for example, are likely larval breeding grounds. It’s a fly equivalent of manna from heaven.
These flies feed on almost any man-made or naturally occurring waste, so every business that has waste is at risk.
The housefly’s life cycle requires two to three weeks from egg deposition to adult emergence during warmer periods (70 to 90 degrees F). They live only two to three days without food but can survive up to 50 days where food is available.
Females deposit an average of 400 to 600 eggs each. This egg production and their short life cycle allow houseflies to develop large populations rapidly, so if your workplace waste is rife for fly pickings, your problems can quickly escalate out of control.
Consider this issue in a restaurant where managing food waste is a constant challenge, and you could well be looking at serious problems that could affect your hygiene standards, and, in worse cases, see you shut down.
Enter then the second greatest offender, the fruit fly. Fruit flies can be a problem year round, but are especially common during late summer/autumn because they are attracted to ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables, making them a real danger to restaurants, bars and food manufacturing plants.
Items such as tomatoes, melons, grapes and other perishable items are often the cause of an infestation developing indoors but these flies are also attracted to rotting bananas, potatoes, onions and other unrefrigerated produce.
Such is their addiction to sweet, sticky products, fruit flies are very common anywhere where food is allowed to rot and ferment. The adult fruit fly is around 1/8 inch long and usually has red eyes. The front area of the body is tan and the rear area is black.
Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials. Upon emerging, the tiny larvae continue to feed near the surface of the fermenting mass. This surface-feeding characteristic of the larvae is significant in that damaged or over-ripened portions of fruits and vegetables can be cut away without having to discard the remainder for fear of retaining any developing larvae.
The reproductive potential of fruit flies is enormous; given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs and the entire lifecycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a week. Again, it is something that can quickly get out of hand if the issue is not identified and tackled right away.
While both fruit and house flies are nuisance pests, the real danger is that they have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria and other disease-producing organisms.
So how do businesses prevent these uninvited guests showing up at their workplace?
The first step in fly control is exclusion and sanitation; essentially this means to get rid of them and clean up so that they don’t come back.
Sanitation is the first measure of defence; even though we advise on various traps and screens to kill flies, it is necessary to get rid of the source to eliminate them fully.
Whenever possible, food and materials on which the flies can lay their eggs must be removed or destroyed. This will help isolate the egg-laying adult and prevent breeding. Killing adult flies will reduce infestation, but elimination of breeding areas is necessary for good fly control management.
Bins and surrounding areas should have tight-fitting lids and be cleaned regularly, and proper drainage should be ensured to get rid of unnecessary extra moisture that attracts the flies.
All this is well and good, and some may say common sense, but businesses cannot expect to eliminate flies completely unless they adopt a long-term approach to the issue. As soon as standards slip, the flies will make their comeback.
The second and third lines of defence are fly units and screens, which any food based business should be using.
There are a wide variety of professional fly units on the market to help you keep on top of flying insect pests in your workplace from quality sticky trap to electric grid fly killing units. These can all be maintained by a third party so you know that you are always employing the best possible defence solution available to you.
Openings of buildings should be tightly screened at all times. Made to measure screens, suited to any size of window or door, offer the very best combination of strength with maximum air and light flow.
There isn’t a quick one-off solution to fly management, but employing the right tactics in keeping them out and ensuring your staff know the importance of keeping them at bay is vital if you want to shut the door on flies for good.