Flies are a nuisance in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. In North America, there are over 16000 kinds of flies known; the most common species include the blow, bottle, drain, fruit, house and phorid-humpbacked fly, and the gnat. This pest can be found almost all over the world. The lifespan of a fly differs greatly among species. While certain types live only 8 days, others' life expectancy amounts to an entire year. Infestations happen quickly because, within a few weeks, one pair can create 1 million offspring. Countless microorganisms are located within the fly’s gut and even more are attached to the surface of its body. During flight, they lose thousands of microbes. Flies also land frequently, contaminating even more food, and agricultural products.

The house fly is gray, has 6 legs and two wings, and measures about ¼ inch. They can turn solid into liquid form for consumption and taste with their feet. Flies cause a health threat to humans because of the multitude of germs they carry. Serious bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli have been associated with the regular house fly and professionals suggest that about 100 pathogens are related to flies. Diseases such as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid fever are serious health concerns. Therefore, it is crucial to control flies. One action every resident can take is to be mindful about sanitation, keeping a clean home is the first step to control this nuisance. This means that trash cans should always be closed shut and garbage taken out regularly. Organic waste and food leftovers should not be lying around the kitchen counter or dirty dishes stored in the sink. There should be no open and filled pet food dishes lying around the house. Flies feed on almost anything aside from human food and garbage, which means that carcasses and excrement can also serve as nutrition. It is a good idea to install screens in front of windows, doors, and vents. An infestation can easily occur because a female lays 5 to 6 batches containing 75 to 100 eggs, which hatch in less than a day. Any area that includes a food source that is warm and moist is suitable to serve as a breeding and hatching ground. The life span is about one month and the life cycle from egg to the pupal stage lasts only about 10 days. Small hairs on the body’s surface function as taste buds. A large range of vision is the result of a complex eye that consists of a multitude of individual lenses.

The drain fly is a tan or light gray colored furry fly that grows a maximum of 5mm. During rest phases, one pair of wings is folded over the body forming a roof. They have six legs and antennae. Attracted to moisture, they can be found on walls of bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Drain flies are nocturnal and do not bite, they feed on organic matter and do not transmit diseases. It takes between one and three weeks to go through a generation and eggs are laid in various amounts. Inside drains, larvae can be found in the gelatinous film. They measure no more than 1cm and have a long slim appearance. Drain fly larvae sit inside the drain film, which serves as a nutritious breeding ground and they breathe through a tube sticking out. They are white almost translucent in color, do not possess legs or eyes and their back is marked by a dark strip. Larvae are extremely resilient to temperature changes and low oxygen. In moderation, drain flies are advantageous because they limit the slimy organic build-up in drains by using their strong jaws to cut through the material. The life expectancy of a drain fly is between 2 and 3 weeks. To control drain flies it is best to dissemble the drain and physically clean it because liquid drain cleaner is not sufficient to eliminate the slimy organic film inside to keep the flies from breeding. A pest control professional can use a special enzyme treatment to break down the gelatinous film inside the drain, but using bleach and ammonia should never be an option. While each liquid is ineffective in controlling the problem, mixing those two chemicals creates a toxic gas can can lead to fatalities.

Another species of flies feeding on organic matter inside of drains are fruit flies. These tiny flies measure only about 4mm and their color can vary from tan over brown to gray and black. While there is an increase in population size noticeable in the summertime, fruit flies can be active indoors year-round. They feed on decomposing organic material such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, yeast, and mushrooms. Substances containing sugars and fermented organic materials are common choices to feed and lay eggs nearby. Once the eggs hatch the larvae develop in a moist environment and feed on the material of the breeding ground. The mature larvae then leave the breeding ground to pupae in a dry area. Fruit flies are most active in the summer when the climate is warm and the sun is shining bright. They enter homes through open windows and doors. Usually, the pupae and mature adults can be seen in the kitchen around the garbage can and close to alcoholic beverages. Fruit flies reproduce quickly and their development is completed in a week and the life span is only about one month long.

To control fruit flies, we recommend storing fruits and vegetables inside the refrigerator, cleaning pipes and trash cans regularly, and disposing of garbage frequently. Outside there should be no decaying fruits from trees lying on the ground and outside pipes should be cleaned out. Fruit fly traps and bacterial digestives might bring temporary relief.

Like fruit flies, gnats are tiny insects with long legs. They are poor fliers and feed on plants, fungi, insects, and blood. There are biting and non-biting species and can sometimes be confused with fruit flies. At dusk, males gather in mating swarms and females lay eggs either in water or on land which varies across species. Larvae are generally immobile. Certain species are beneficial to agriculture by acting as pollinators and feeding on crop pests. However, other species are crop pests themselves. Yet other species feed on blood and transmit parasites and diseases to humans and livestock.

Just like protecting against fruit flies it is advisable to put all produce into the fridge. To control fungus gnats, additional measures can be taken. Adults lay eggs in the moist soil of house plants and the hatched larvae feed on decomposing organic material and the plant’s roots. It is a good idea to limit watering plants and allow soil to dry entirely to kill off larvae. Adult gnats can be vacuumed off the plant and around windows.

A free home inspection is the first step to controlling flies. The pest management professional points out sources of the nuisance and provides tips on baiting, traps, and a treatment plan. It saves the homeowner energy and time to let a pest control professional handle the situation.

Fun facts about flies:

1flies have a 360 degree vision
2house flies are only 70 million years old, compared to other species that have been around since 250 million years ago
3house flies taste with their feet
4house flies taste with their feet
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HOUSE FLIES in Tennessee and Kentucky

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