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. Some of the most common diseases spread by flies include:
- Typhoid fever
- Food poisoning/gastroenteritis
- Urogenital and intestinal infections
Why aren't we all sick? Well, because most adults have strong immune systems and are therefore able to fight off disease spread by flies. But children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are much more susceptible to these health hazards.
Filth Flies in Canada
People generally refer to flying insects as flies, but they are not true flies. True flies belong to the Order Diptera, which means that they have two wings. The most common types of filth flies in Canada include:
- Drain fly
- Fruit fly
- House fly
- and Phorid-humpbacked fly.
Filth Flies & Food-Borne Disease in Practice
One in every 8 Canadians are affected by food-borne diseases, which result in 11,600 hospitalizations and 238 deaths every year. The Conference Board of Canada suggests that half of all foodborne diseases are picked up at restaurants, cafeterias and from other food-service providers.
When Filth Flies Land on Food
Pathogens carried by flies can contaminate food through the direct incorporation of the filth carried on their bodies, or by contaminating the surfaces on which food is prepared.
Flies feed, breed and wallow in decaying, fermenting and rotting organic materials from vegetable or animal origin. Waste and garbage from food-processing plants, accumulated rotting vegetable matter, sewage, organic manure or accumulated animal feces are some of their best breeding sites.
When a fly lands on a potential food source, it first vomits its gut contents onto the food. Flies don't have the mouthparts required to chew, so it uses a sponge-like tongue to liquefy food. The regurgitated food and saliva contains digestive enzymes that gradually turn solid foods into liquid that can be slurped up easily.
Since hydration is important for flies, they also tend to defecate regularly, every few minutes and often on food for human consumption. A fly's mouthparts have many ridges and fine hairs that readily collect bacteria and germs, and its tarsi is a complex structure of sticky pads and hairs to which filth and bacteria cling.
Filth Flies in the Food Service
Food and surface contamination by flies quickly increases within a short period of time.
- A fly can defecate up to 50 times in 24 hours.
- A fly can lay more than 1,000 eggs in 2 weeks, each resulting in an adult fly with millions of bacteria on its body.
Food service establishment impacted by fly infestations may face significant fines and closure by the public health department, and then there's the risk of the issue going public. Some health authorities post inspection histories online, which media outlets happily disclose to the public.
Clients exposed to contaminated food tend to the primary driver of a business' failure, and online reviews are read by the public.
The financial implications far outweigh the costs of preventing or treating a filth fly issue from the start.
Filth Flies and Pest Control
Flies can quickly become nuisance pests that spread disease, inflict nasty bites and destroy food sources. A single pair of flies can give birth to a million offspring in as little as six weeks.
How can you manage filth flies?
Without proper sanitation, other pest control methods for filth flies are mostly ineffective.
- eliminate breeding sites
- keep trash in sealed containers
- promptly remove decaying plant and animal materials
- eliminate excessive moisture
Regular inspection is important in order to apply proper sanitation.
- Inspect the premises
- Identify the flies present
- Inspect for materials that attract that species and eliminate it
One of the most effective ways to manage flies, is to exclude them from the premises.
- Keep doors, windows and vents closed
- Screen and seal any fly entry points
- Install automatic door closing devices and air curtains to blow air away from doorways
- Mechanical Control
There are several mechanical methods for fly control and trapping, including:
- sticky fly paper
- ultraviolet light traps
- Chemical Control
We don't always advise chemical fly control, but it is sometimes advisable in unoccupied rooms where flies may be a problem. However, chemical control is a temporary measure that will not entirely eliminate the problem.
Need help with filth flies around your food service establishment? Get in touch with GreenLeaf Pest Control today.