Imagine sitting in a restaurant, waiting in anticipation for your meal to arrive, just for a fly to land on it after you have taken the first scrumptious bite. What would you do? If you’re like most people, you would wave it away – after all, it is just a fly and you’re enjoying a spectacular meal. You might be less inclined to carry on eating if it weren’t a fly but rather a cockroach or rodent. But did you know that flies are at least twice as filthy as cockroaches?
Due to their abundance (uncontrolled, they would cover the whole planet 18 inches deep in just one season), their close association with people, and their ability to transmit disease, filth flies are considered a bigger threat to human welfare than most other household or commercial pests. Flies are known to transmit about one hundred animal and human pathogens, but emerging research shows they may be even more dangerous than we previously thought.
Once the warmer weather rolls around, and the cold winter makes space for springtime, ants also come out. That is why many Canadians have ant problems in March – most commonly, the carpenter ant, of the genus Camponotus, which consists of 1,000 species of carpenter ants.
The majority of people eating in a restaurant would go back to eating their meal after a fly touched and contaminated it, but almost no one would touch their food after seeing a cockroach crawling on it. The same kind of attitude is seen in staff and managers in the food-processing industry (“It’s just a fly, wave it away”), and it can cost them their business.
When the authorities shut down a local restaurant or a food processing unit, it’s usually because of rodents or cockroaches – seldom is the “innocuous” fly the reason a restaurant goes out of business. And yet, according to entomologists, filth-breeding flies (a term referring to several species of true flies of the order Diptera, including the four subspecies of Musca domestica, the house fly) are at least twice as filthy as cockroaches.
Due to their abundance (uncontrolled, they would cover the whole planet 18 inches deep in just one season), their close association with people, and their ability to transmit disease, filth flies are considered a bigger threat to human welfare than most other household or commercial pests.
Come fall, however, and they may be taken by surprise by an equally pesky, yet mostly innocuous, household pest: cluster flies.
As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, the large, black cluster flies start entering homes in the search of protected overwintering sites, and they may be seen flying around in large numbers throughout winter and early spring. They show a landing preference for warm, sunny locations usually on the south- and west-facing walls of light colored buildings. Structures situated on open hilltops or near meadows and lawns appear more attractive due to the existence of the large populations of earthworms, their preferred host.
They enter homes through small openings, such as gaps under eaves, as well as open windows and doors. They congregate in large numbers (thus the name ‘cluster’ flies) in walls, attics, and basements, waiting for spring to emerge and start a new life cycle outdoors.
Heat and humidity have been the subject of the week across Ontario as a blanket of extreme heat and humidity descended on the region, making Canadians feel like they were going to melt. And while most of them are desperately trying to beat the heat by staying indoors, keeping the window blinds closed, and installing indoor cooling systems, they may be taken by surprise by yet another adverse effect of the scorching weather: the early apparition of fruit flies.
According to Andrew Hebda, the curator of zoology at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History interviewed by CBC News, Canadians are seeing more fruit flies showing up earlier than expected due to the cold spring followed by the onset of a sudden heat wave. And while they are usually a problem all year round, fruit flies are especially common in late summer and fall, when large numbers of them suddenly appear in Canadian homes, attracted to fermenting and overripe fruit and vegetables.