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Winning the battle against those wily flies.

Winning the battle against those wily flies

Ring the opening bell in any man-versus-flymatch, and the fly comes out of its corner, hungry and quick. Eager to spar, but outnumbered and a lot slower, man needs help.

After boning up on basic fly-fighting tactics,you can now call on an expanded arsenal to defeat your opponent: the array of traps shown here will deprive even the wiliest fly of a winged victory.

Choices range from whack'emswatters to electric zappers to baits containing a fly sex attractant, or pheromone (sold under such names as Muscamone, Muscalure, and Tricosene).

A few facts of life

In her three-week life, a female layshundreds of eggs. In hot weather, they develop into larvae, pupae, then adults in 7 to 10 days. To feed and breed, flies prefer moist decomposing material-- lawn clippings, compost, damp animal feed, animal droppings, household garbage. Some species will travel up to 30 miles to find it. Their keenest sensitivities are to smell and warmth. Once fed, they head for the brightest light, and, being party animals, they go where they can see, smell, and hear other flies.

Many types of flies are found aroundWestern homes. Identifying your pests will help you know how best to combat them. These are the most common.

Housefly, 1/4 inch long. Your basic food-seekingfly, it's most active between 80| and 90| with 40 percent humidity.

Lesser housefly, smaller than the commonfly, breeds in everything from birds' nests to bags of fertilizer; it circles in clusters or flies in jerky zigzag fashion, rarely alights.

Green blow fly, 1/4 inch long, iridescentgreen; buzzes around pet droppings, garbage.

Black blow fly, 1/3 inch long, bluish black,hairy; loves chicken coops.

Garbage fly, 1/3 inch long, shiny black, a bigbuzzer; goes for pet food, garbage.

Biting stable fly looks like commonhousefly, likes wet straw, lawn clippings; draws blood from dogs, horses, people.

Some fly-fighting tactics

These steps should minimize problems.

Garbage. Dry out organic garbage asmuch as you can, then wrap it airtight. Thoroughly rinse glass and metal containers; clean animal juices from paper wrap, and let dry before disposal. Make sure your garbage can has no holes or cracks, and has a tight lid that pets and wild animals can't dislodge.

But flies lay eggs even in crevices--andlarvae can migrate 50 feet within a few days. To cope with the quick egg-to-adult cycle in summer, ask about twice-weekly garbage pickup.

Animal droppings. Pick up at least daily.Flies can't breed in them once they dry up, so spread them in sawdust in sun to speed this. Or wrap tightly and toss into garbage can.

Garden cleanup and compost. Pick up fallenfruit or ripe produce as soon as possible. Also dispose of dead snails.

Flies find the ammonia odor of nitrogen-richmatter such as lawn clippings irresistible. But gardeners who have composted for years with no fly problems say the trick is to get the temperature high enough, quick enough. Try to get a 30-to-1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen by heavily mixing in dry leaves, weeds, and finished compost. Spread 3 to 4 inches of finished compost on top to absorb the odor.

Baits, traps, and where to put them

An effective trap will draw flies from adistance, so place it well away from your outdoor living area. Put it near your nuisance attraction--garbage, dog run. If the attraction is off your property, place traps on perimeter fences. Though traps work best at ground level, keep them out of reach of children and pets.

Dehydrator traps. The three at lower leftclaim success with houseflies, blow flies, stable flies.

Jar traps. These do better with blow fliesthan with other species.

Electric zappers. They don't do as well withblow flies as with houseflies.

Sticky traps. Use these to get the lesserhousefly (it doesn't go inside traps). Hang wherever you see flies circling, but away from sun and breezes. (Note: these will also trap hummingbirds, small bats, beneficial insects.)

Baits. The fact that flies can't breed in afermenting substance has led to new solutions. Beer--or a mix of 1 part molasses to 3 parts water seeded with active dry yeast--has proven a successful housefly lure. Mixes of ammonium carbonate and yeast that come with some of the traps attract houseflies, blow flies, biting stable flies. In general, houseflies prefer sweet bait (molasses, fruit); get blow flies with meat, fish. Keep all bait moist; dried, it loses its effectiveness.

Buy controls at home and garden centers,hardware stores, feed and grain outlets. For the screen trap at lower left, write to Beneficial BioSystems, Box 8461, Emeryville, Calif. 94662. For the screen cone: Spalding Laboratories, 760 Printz Rd., Arroyo Grande, Calif. 93420. For the lantern-trap bag: Safer's, Inc., 60 William St., Wellesley, Mass. 02181.

What about sprays? Other choices?

Spray as a last resort, not as regular control.For instance, just before an outdoor party, spray the ground and surrounding vegetation, especially the undersides of leaves where flies like to rest.

Effectiveness depends on fly resistance;the more you spray, the more you help increase resistance, generation by generation. (You don't really want to aid in fly mutation to Jeff Goldblum-size, do you?)

Do not spray compost piles and otherpotential breeding sites or you will also be killing the fly's natural predators and other beneficial bugs. Look for spray labels that indicate pyrethrum (a natural insecticide) and malathion or methomyl.

When we asked feed and grain stores howto solve fly problems, most recommended a granular scatter bait ($5.20 per pound) containing Tricosene and methomyl. This bait is highly toxic; heed the directions.

More information. You can order A FlyControl Handbook ($4) from Beneficial BioSystems (address at left). Or subscribe to Common Sense Pest Control Quarterly (Bio-Integral Resource Center, Box 7414, Berkeley 94707; $30 a year), written for those interested in nontoxic approaches.

Photo: Hand-held swatter

Whippy wire stem, flexible open-weavehead make the best swatters fast and harder for a fly to see
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jul 1, 1987
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