What are nuisance flies?
Nuisance flies are insects that are annoying or can spread diseases to people and domestic animals by biting or carrying disease causing pathogens. All nuisance flies are members of the Insect Order "Diptera" (meaning "two-wings"). The adults can be identified by having only one pair of wings but can look very different from one another. Nuisance flies are found throughout California and cause a variety of problems. The immature (larval) stages of these flies are found in different habitats, including water and semi-aquatic sites. Fly larvae found in decaying organic matter are sometimes called maggots.
What is the public health importance of nuisance flies?
These insects are attracted to dead animals, feces, and garbage, allowing them to spread a variety of disease-causing bacteria and parasites. Some flies are capable of delivering painful bites and can transmit diseases to humans and animals. Other nuisance flies reproduce quickly and are annoying simply because of their numbers.
How are nuisance flies controlled?
The term "nuisance flies" covers many species so there is no one method of control. Suggested steps include the following:
Identify the problem fly, if possible, by using online resources, pictorial guides or by contacting local environmental health departments, vector control agencies or university extension services.
Eliminate items that attract flies such as rotting organic material (meat, leaves or grass clippings, household garbage) or animal feces.
Be sure that windows and doors close properly and that screens are in good repair.
Use insect repellents containing the active ingredient DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to provide an effective barrier against biting flies.
Turn off or limit the use of lights at night to discourage those flies that are attracted to light.
Cover food, whether for humans or animals.
Various traps, baits, and insecticidal sprays are available for fly control. Read the product labels or consult a pest control professional to determine which products are available to control the specific nuisance fly problem.
Generally, nuisance flies are more common in spring, summer, and fall, but many are active during the winter months. Due to California's range of habitats and elevations, the occurrence of nuisance flies varies by region.
Common nuisance flies include the following: