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The Key to Small Fly Control

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.

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If you’d like a free copy of PCT’s Structure Infesting Flies guide*, email jwoodward@geotechsupply.com

*While supplies last

*One copy per company

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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 sracioppe@geotechsupply.com.

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