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Foiling the Filthy Fly

Pest Press Newsletter

Fly on toast.

Summer is the peak season for flying insects, particularly the house fly. Do your employees know the hazards of flies? Many people just see flies as an annoyance. While anything that annoys your customers can pose a risk to your reputation, flies actually pose a much greater risk – to your food safety. House flies feed and breed in filth such as dumpsters, garbage, decaying vegetation, and manure. When they fly from these areas to land on dishes, glasses, food preparation surfaces, or food itself, they can transfer bacteria from the filth to these deceptively clean surfaces. This potentially disease-ridden activity has led to house flies’ designation as “filth flies.” Research has shown that house flies can carry more than 200 pathogens, including Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella, and Campylobacter. The fly can then transmit these foodborne-disease causing bacteria in two primary ways:

  • From within its body: A fly will vomit on its food to break it down, then suck it up, collecting bacteria. This can then be transferred to the food or surface where the fly lands next. The fly also will deposit fecal matter where it rests, leaving risks of contamination wherever it lands.  
  • From on its body: Flies have tiny hairs on their feet that act as moist suction cups to mechanically hold and transfer any bacteria to the next surface on which they land.

(For a humorous, but serious, look at this process, check out the video “Why You Don’t Want a Fly as a Friend.”)

Fly Prevention. While flies are an inevitable part of the outdoors during warm weather, they are not inevitable in and around your business. Following are key causes of – and preventive solutions for –fly problems.
  1. Exterior. Flies are attracted to a variety of odors, both those that smell good and those that smell bad to us. 
    Prevention. The first line of defense is reducing the exterior sources of attraction: Keep garbage areas clean and bins covered, and move them away from building entry points. Eliminate any standing water, clutter, and excess vegetation from around the property. 
  2. Entry Points. Having found your facility to be a source of attractive odors, flies will actively seek out entry points. 
    Prevention. Inspect, seal, and maintain doors, windows, and any screening in good condition. Don’t allow doors to be propped open for deliveries or outdoor employee breaks. Having a vestibule between the exterior and interior doors can help trap flies from further entry. (Click here for more detail on exclusion techniques for the exterior and entry points.)
  3. Interior. Once they arrive at the source of the odor, flies will search out suitable sites – and settle in to feed and breed. 
    Prevention. Keep floors cleaned/mopped to not allow standing water or accumulated condensation. Periodically deep clean beneath lines and equipment, and regularly clean up food debris and clutter. Not only will this reduce fly feeding and breeding sites, it enables increased access for inspection and monitoring. 

Fly Control. In addition to the preventive practices you can implement, your pest service provider can be expected to:

  1. Inspect your establishment thoroughly to identify susceptible areas, existing infestations, and conditions that may attract flies or enable their entry.
  2. Recommend specific ways to reduce fly pressure and entry, such as the preventive practices noted above.
  3. Provide control through strategic placement of exterior fly bait stations, interior fly traps, and targeted treatment as needed.
A comprehensive fly program with a partnership between the commercial establishment and its pest management provider will help reduce fly pressure on the exterior, exclude flies from entering the facility, and quickly destroy flies that do gain entry. Using an ‘Outside-In’ approach, with leading-edge technology and ongoing service, helps to improve food safety and guest satisfaction by providing a proactive solution to large fly problems.

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