Log in
Log in


  • 09/09/2021 9:40 AM | Anonymous

    By Steve Racioppe M.S.

    In this last segment of our 3-part series on flies we’ll cover the remaining small flies - phorid flies, moth flies, and fungus gnats.

    Phorid Flies (Family Phoridae)

    The most significant of the remaining three is the phorid fly. The phorid fly is often confused with the fruit fly, but there are key points that differentiate the two. The phorid fly is about 1/8” in length with tan to brown wings. Its eyes will be black unlike many fruit flies. The most noticeable traits are its small head and humped thorax. In fact they’re sometimes called the humpback fly. The other key differentiator is their breeding site. Phorid flies are usually associated with some sort of wet, heavy organic contamination. They’re also known as crypt flies for their predilection for breeding in corpses.

    Phorid flies are very common in restaurants and commercial buildings. In hospitals they are an enormous concern because they are known to breed in patients’ wounds and can mechanically transmit harmful germs. They can breed in any type of decaying organic liquid, so drains, garbage cans, and soda towers are in play. Having said that, plumbing and pipe breaks are a very likely possibility as raw sewage is a favored breeding material.

    Like all small flies source elimination is the only real solution. When inspecting for phorid flies start by asking if there have been any known plumbing breaks or issues. It is very common for phorid flies to be associated with a plumbing issue below the slab. If there have been known plumbing breaks start with that area. Look for broken tiles and areas where repairs have been attempted. If you see high levels of activity that’s probably the source. Here’s the bad news for the client- it’s not really a pest problem, it’s 100 percent a plumbing problem. The area will have to be torn up and fixed, and the contaminated soil removed. This is an expensive proposition, so be darn sure you’ve eliminated other possibilities.

    Professional tools such as cameras may have to be used to confirm a break in the line. If there appears to be no plumbing issues look for areas with liquids containing high organic levels, like drains. Continue looking at all of these types of areas you can find.

    A tool that can help you dial in the source is fly lights. They aren’t terribly attractive to phorid flies, but they may help you find areas of high concentration. Another trick is to put duct tape over cracks and void openings. If after several days you find flies stuck to the tape, that area could be a source. 

    Treatment will often be the plumbing repair. For areas not associated with plumbing, like drains, the best remediation is cleaning and maintenance. Until that happens, however, drain enzyme products can help reduce the breeding medium. Aerosols and fogging can also be used to reduce populations for immediate relief, but this is a temporary solution that’ll only help for a day or two.

    Moth Flies (Family Psychodidae)

    Moth flies are the true drain fly, so called because drains are a primary breeding site. Moth flies are very small, slightly under 1/8”. Their coloration is much like that of a moth with brown, tan, and white patterns on their hairy body. They are poor fliers often found near their breeding site. When inspecting for moth flies think slime. They develop in the gelatinous goo that builds up in moist, poorly cleaned areas. That’s why drains are such a key area. But beware of other areas where moisture collects, such as tile with missing grout.

    Treatment consists of cleaning the area in question, removing the breeding medium, and maintaining proper drainage. Again, the enzyme products can help reduce the organic material. A monthly enzyme drain treatment is an excellent sales opportunity.

    Fungus Gnats (Families Mycetophilidae and Sciaridae)

    The last of the small flies we’ll discuss are the fungus gnats. Physically, they are dark, very small (about 1/16”) with long legs and long antennae. While not a harmful pest, they can be extremely irritating because they can get in your eye or accidentally inhaled. Persons being bothered by fungus gnats spend a lot of time trying to shoo them away from their face. For a patron of a business that’s not a great experience.

    They live almost exclusively in and around overwatered soil. The overwatering fosters a fungus which the flies feed upon. It also provides the breeding medium. The solution? Dry out the soil. There’s really no need for any insecticide treatment, the mere act of drying the soil will take away their food and their breeding site.


    We hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If you have any questions or would like an ID, please don’t hesitate to email us here.  

    Remember we also have PCT’s Structure Infesting Flies Field Guide for anyone that would like one. Simply drop an email here and we’ll get it on the way!

    Steve Racioppe, M.S.

    Steve Racioppe is General Manager and staff entomologist for Geotech Supply. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in fly biology from Rutgers University. He spent time as a technical director for a large firm in Texas, was Sales Director for Whitmire Micro-Gen and BASF, and has been G.M. for Geotech Supply since 2012. For questions or identifications contact Steve at

    *We still have copies left, so if you’d like a free copy of PCT’s Structure Infesting Flies guide*, email us here.

  • 08/27/2021 9:50 AM | Anonymous

    By Steve Racioppe M.S.

    Fruit flies are in the genus Drosophila. There are several species that cause problems in structural settings. The most common are melanogaster and repleta. Melanogaster is easily identified by their bright orange/ red eyes, whereas repleta (dark-eyed fruit fly) typically has black eyes. Fruit flies can be a difficult pest because they are frequently brought in with produce and have a very fast reproductive cycle. Once introduced they can get out of hand quickly. Not only are they a nuisance but they can transmit bacteria mechanically by flying from a contaminated surface to a food surface.

    Fruit flies are small- about 1/8” in size and yellow-brown in color with a stout body. The female lays eggs in small clusters in decaying/fermenting organic matter. They are particularly fond of rotting fruit and sugary fluids. She will lay hundreds of eggs over several days. Like other flies in the order Diptera they have complete metamorphosis, so eggs hatch into larvae or maggots after just 12-24 hours. The larvae will live in the source material, such as rotting fruit, for 3 or 4 days before crawling to a dry area to pupate. The fly will develop and emerge from the pupal casing in 1 to 2 days. Once emerged, the adult fly is sexually mature in about a day. So under ideal conditions fruit flies can complete an entire life cycle in about 7 days.

    It seems cliché, but the solution to fruit flies is eliminating the source. If you’ve looked everywhere and can’t find the source, look some more. Without finding the source the infestation will continue in perpetuity or until the breeding source is depleted. Until then you’ll be reduced to trapping and fogging which is expensive and leaves your client dissatisfied. Bananas are a common source as they aren’t normally refrigerated and are often left sitting out. Don’t overlook things like an onion nestled deep under the stove, empty soda cans in the recycle bin, or an old juice spill under a counter. Accumulated food material in cracks in the flooring or in the wall/floor juncture are also potential breeding sites. Any type of organic matter should be identified and eliminated. But wait, that’s not all! They’ll also breed in slime that accumulates around drains or in broken tiles. If it’s organic and decomposing a fruit fly can breed in it.

    OK, we’ve already suggested that you eliminate the source, but what can you do while you’re looking, and what steps can you do to reduce decaying organic matter? For one thing make sure you document! You will ask the staff to clean and they probably won’t do it- at least not adequately. Without specific documentation of the things you’ve asked the staff to clean you will have little defense when called to account. Write a thorough sanitation report. Take pictures of items that need cleaned and removed. Document poor cultural practices, such as improper storage of mops (yes, they’ll breed in mops, too) or poor garbage handling.

    Other than cleaning and proper storage, the next best way to reduce organic debris is to use bacterial organic reduction materials like BioGel from Pest West, or Vector Bio 5 for example. You can also get aerosol versions for drains such a Foam Fresh by Nisus or Invade Bio Foam from Rockwell Labs. These materials can be applied directly to the organic matter in question. You can also use them directly into drains. If you need to apply with a sprayer, they typically have instructions for mixing with water as well. This process can take days/ weeks, however. So let’s look at adult population reduction.

    There are several commercially available traps that use a fruit-based fluid to attract the flies. Once lured into the trap they contact the fluid and drown. These can be useful around a bar or any discreet area near high fly activity. Some commonly used examples are BASF’s Vector 960 Fruit Fly Trap and Natural Catch. Another type of trap that can be useful are ILT’s. Fruit flies are somewhat attracted to UV light, so placing lights in the kitchen or behind the bar where you’re seeing activity can be helpful. There are lots of light traps on the market, but choose one by a good manufacturer as the quality from lesser manufacturers can be spotty. A great light for small areas, such as behind the bar top, is Vector Plasma One from Catchmaster. It is a sanitary trap using glue boards to capture the flies and its’ combination of size and quality is a great value for small areas. But two bulb lights by Pest West, Catchmaster (Vector line), and others work well for larger areas. Change bulbs at least once per year as bulb efficacy decreases over time.

    Trapping helps, but is rather slow and inconsistent. The use of commercial fans for temporary relief while you do the necessary detective work to find the breeding material can also be a useful tool. Fruit flies are weak fliers and don’t normally alight with air flow.

    Knocking flies down quickly involves fogging. Products like the B&G PAS Commercial unit or an Actisol machine work very well. Typically a .5% to 1% pyrethrin product is used through the machine. For smaller areas you can also use an aerosol, such as PT 565 Plus XLO from BASF or CB80 from FMC. Be sure to use a fogging tip when doing this type of application. Also, wear a respirator and check additional label and PPE requirements.

    Understand that treatment methods other than source elimination will be just a band aid. Ultimately, the only solution is to eliminate the source. Ask anyone who’s been in the business for a while about the craziest fruit fly source they found. You’ll hear some funny stories! Happy hunting.

    Steve Racioppe, M.S.

    Steve Racioppe is General Manager and staff entomologist for Geotech Supply. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in fly biology from Rutgers University. He spent time as a technical director for a large firm in Texas, was Sales Director for Whitmire Micro-Gen and BASF, and has been G.M. for Geotech Supply since 2012. For questions or identifications contact Steve at

    If you’d like a free copy of PCT’s Structure Infesting Flies guide*, email

    *While supplies last

    *One copy per company

  • 06/25/2021 1:07 PM | Anonymous

    By Wm H Robinson, B&G Equipment Company

    The B&G sprayer is the workhorse of professional pest control. Most service technicians use their sprayer every day for routine pest control service, or for special jobs that require precise application. The tip shut-off valve ensures customer safety, and the rugged stainless steel and brass construction ensures long service. However, the sprayer has moving parts, valves, and washers that require regular maintenance to keep them in top condition. Monthly care and cleaning of the sprayer will keep it trouble-free.

    The ‘Six-Point Maintenance’ program will keep your B&G sprayer ready for any pest control job. This program covers the key components of the sprayer—from the nozzle to the tank—and takes about 15 minutes. Start with an empty tank, and the hose drained of liquid. It helps to work at a sink with good lighting. Start at the nozzle and work back to the pump tube, and finish by cleaning the tank.

    Six-Point Maintenance

    • Nozzle – The nozzle is made of high-grade brass and will survive being knocked around in the back of service trucks. However, with extended use the openings for the fan sprays and the pin-stream will gradually enlarge. This increase will change the angle of the spray, and the distribution pattern of the liquid in the fan may become uneven. 
    Note: The general appearance of the nozzle may not indicate that the openings have enlarged or are damaged. Replacing the nozzle every year is a reasonable schedule and will maintain an accurate spray pattern and flow rate.
    • Hose – The hose needs replacement only when damaged. Check the connection points: hose to valve, and hose to tank. These are common sites for wear and leaks. A leak at the host-to-tank connection may require replacing the Teflon washer. Don’t over-tighten this fitting, the washer may be crushed and clog the hose. 
    • Filter/Strainer –The filter/strainer should be removed, cleaned, and replaced regularly. Regardless of the water source or insecticides used, small pieces of dirt and debris often get into the tank. The strainer keeps dirt from clogging the valve and blocking the spray. 
    The filter on the Next Generation valve is located at the hose and valve junction. It is a flat screen that filters the liquid before it enters the valve, and it is held in place by an O-ring. The mesh on this filter is the same as for the filter in the standard Extenda- ban valve and serves the same purpose—remove dirt from the incoming liquid. Remove it and clean with a nylon brush.
    • Valve – The Extenda-Ban valve is designed for long service without leaking. A leak in the gaskets may result in a small amount of liquid on the handle, or at the end of the valve. Small leaks can be corrected by slight tightening (1/4 turn) of the packing nut; use a 3/8 wrench. 
    • Check Valve —The check valve at the base of the pump cylinder admits air into the tank as the pump handle is depressed. It can become worn and deposits around its edge (on the pump cylinder) can cause it to leak. Periodically replacing the check valve (PV-266) will keep proper pressure in the tank. Clean the bottom of the pump cylinder to remove deposits that build up around the edge of the check valve. 
    Cleaning the Tank

    Pesticide residues can form on the inside of the tank, especially when the tank is not emptied every day. Cleaning inside the stainless steel tank is an important part of a care and maintenance program, but should be performed carefully and with the correct cleaning fluids.

    Do not use bleach as a cleaning agent. It is not effective in removing pesticide residue, and it can create small holes in the stainless steel tank. Cleaning should be done with a warm, detergent solution and with a plastic brush to remove residue from the tank bottom and sides. Do not use ammonia-based cleaning materials because this chemical will damage the brass parts. The siphon tube extends along the side and close to the bottom of the tank; be careful not to hit (and possibly bend) the siphon tube when using a brush to clean inside the tank. The hose can be cleaned with detergent solution by pressurizing the tank and spraying into a sink for several minutes. Rinse the tank with clear water several times and flush the hose with clear water. If the sprayer is not going to be used for an extended period, remove the pump unit and store the tank upside down.

  • 06/25/2021 12:58 PM | Anonymous

    by Steve Racioppe, M.S.

    If you’ve ever had a small fly job in a kitchen, you know that they can be frustrating.  In this three part series we’ll look at key factors that will improve your success and save you lots of time.

    A typical small fly job starts with a call from your customer complaining about “drain flies” or “fruit flies.”  The first key to success is to not accept your client’s analysis.  The terms drain flies and fruit flies are used generically by the general public to describe any small fly buzzing around their kitchen.  A common mistake is to begin treating based on the client’s identification.

    The next step is to visit the facility to identify the fly.  There are four small flies that cause most of the issues in our industry.  We’ll take a look at each fly in subsequent articles, but they are the fruit fly, the phorid fly, the moth fly, and the fungus gnat.  Each one breeds in its own preferred location, so if you start treating blindly there’s a good chance you’ll be treating in an incorrect area, thus wasting a tremendous amount of time and effort. 

    Sanitation is the single biggest factor in fly control.  As you inspect the facility look for general sanitation practices.  Correcting sanitation deficiencies may solve the problem before you have to take any action.  Look for things like garbage handling, food storage, food and debris on the floor, sweet liquids pooling or dripping, cracked tiles retaining water.  We’ll devote time to specific areas as we delve into each fly, but improving sanitation practices will ultimately help you manage many pest populations.

    At the facility collect some samples of the fly.  If they’re appearing in any quantity you’ll likely find some laying around, like in a window sill.  If you’re having trouble finding samples, an insect light trap placed in areas of known activity can be effective.  Keep the light trap within 3 to 5 feet of the floor.  There are plenty of good identification tools available, like PCT’s Guide to Flying Insects for example.  If you’re unsure of identifying on your own or would like a second opinion, your distributor rep can be a good resource.  They likely have access to magnifying lenses or microscopes, and have contact with national experts.  You can even take a picture with your phone- providing the clarity is good enough to make an ID possible.  When taking pictures for identification a few things are important.  Include an object for size perspective like a coin for example.  For small fly identification try to take good shots of the antenna, wings, and a side view of the thorax.  That’ll give the greatest chance of success for an accurate ID.

    OK, we’ve identified the fly.  Now it’s time to help the customer.  There are 2 simultaneous issues- the client needs the problem solved, but they may also need relief while you’re working on the solution.  There are a few things you can do to temporarily reduce small fly populations. 

    First is fogging.  This can be done with a cold fogger, such as an Actisol or B&G’s PAS Commercial unit.  These machines generate a fine mist that’s moved with pressurized air.  Non-residual pyrethrin products are typically used for this type of application, 1% formulations are common.  If you don’t have a fogger and the area isn’t too large, you can use an aerosol, such as PT 565 Plus XLO or CB80.  You’ll need to use a fogging tip for a space spray application.  Fogging rates are determined by cubic footage (Length x Width x Height).  Using the 565 Plus XLO label for example, the label reads “apply at the rate of 1 to 3 seconds per 1000 cubic feet.” For BP 100 the label requires 1 ounce of material used undiluted per 1000 cubic feet.  (1000 cubic feet is a room 10 x 10 x 10; 12 x 10 x 8 is 960 cubic feet.)  Fogging is an entire article unto itself, so we’ll stop there, except to say check the labels for specific directions, additional PPE, and safety requirements as there are many.

    Fly lights are important for any long-term fly management program.  Many small flies are attracted to UV light, so fly lights can help as well.  Small flies spend most of their time 3 to 5 feet from the floor, so fly lights should be placed at that height.  You’ll want to look for discreet placement locations in areas of activity and areas with low light competition.  Poorly placed lights will have poor results.

    In the coming articles we’ll look at different treatment techniques that permanently solve the problem for the client.  Each fly has a little different approach and it’s essential to tailor the treatment to the facility and specific fly.


    If you’d like a free copy of PCT’s Structure Infesting Flies guide*, email

    *While supplies last

    *One copy per company


    Steve Racioppe is General Manager and staff entomologist for Geotech Supply.  He earned his undergraduate and master’s degree in fly biology from Rutgers University.  He spent time as a technical director for a large firm in Texas, was Sales Director for Whitmire Micro-Gen and BASF, and has been G.M. for Geotech Supply since 2012.  For questions or identifications contact Steve at

  • 11/01/2018 4:39 PM | Deleted user

    On Saturday, October 10th, we lost industry member and good friend Mark Stapley. Mark was involved in a terrible ATV accident which caused a traumatic brain injury and his untimely death. He worked in the bug industry for nearly 12 years. 

    Please consider donating to his family's Go Fund Me account. He was always willing to help anyone else in need, and it would be greatly appreciated if we could do the same for his family while they deal with this loss.

Call or Email Us:


111 E Dunlap Ave, Ste 1-481

Phoenix, AZ 85020

Hours of Operation:

9 am - 5 pm, Mon - Fri

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software