Flies have a vi­tal role says ‘bug man’

Central Leader - - NEWS -

No­ticed an in­crease in this sum­mer? You’re alone.

Neigh­bourly no­tice­boards are full of posts from mem­bers des­per­ate for ad­vice from neigh­bours.

Our hot and hu­mid weather has cre­ated per­fect breed­ing con­di­tions for flies – hence the rise in num­ber.

Flies may be a nui­sance but bug ex­pert Ruud Klein­paste reck­ons they are merely mis­un­der­stood.

‘‘We might not wel­come them into our home but we can’t live with­out them,’’ he says.

Klein­paste says flies are es­sen­tial for main­tain­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal equi­lib­rium.

New Zealand is home to hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent species, in­clud­ing up to 60 kinds of blow fly and Klein­paste says ev­ery one of them has a vi­tal job.

‘‘All blow flies do is clean up car­casses, dung, waste and or­ganic ma­te­rial,’’ he says. ‘‘The house fly loves grass clip­pings and does a flies not fab­u­lous job with com­post­ing.

‘The lesser house fly is the one that flies in­ces­santly around the lounge. They are ex­perts in bird dung.’’

And the species isn’t with­out its quirks.

‘‘Blow flies love lamb for some rea­son; steak and veni­son, not so much.

‘‘They lit­er­ally fol­low their nose. All they’re look­ing for is pro­tein to lay their eggs on.’’

The rea­son you’re find­ing more flies in­doors? They’re usu­ally in search of shel­ter.

‘‘Flies hate wind,’’ Klein­paste says. ‘‘They can’t fly more than two or three kilo­me­tres an hour, so any­thing stronger than that and they’ll ei­ther sit still or go to the lee­ward side of the house where there’s no wind.

‘‘Most peo­ple open the win­dows on that side of the house when there’s wind ... and that’s when flies get in.’’

Many peo­ple worry about food con­tam­i­na­tion but Klein­paste think flies cop the blame too of­ten and doesn’t think too many food poi­son­ing cases have been tracked back to the hum­ble house va­ri­ety.

Klein­paste rec­om­mends us­ing com­mon sense; not leav­ing food out if flies are preva­lent and keep­ing it in the fridge or mi­crowave for ad­di­tional pro­tec­tion.

So how do you pre­vent flies from in­vad­ing your home? Klein­paste sug­gests: Grow hedges around your house to of­fer flies shel­ter from the wind and nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring food to graze on, thus re­duc­ing the temp­ta­tion for them to head in­side

Bathe reg­u­larly and wash your hands – flies are at­tracted to an acid found in sweat which is es­sen­tial for their re­pro­duc­tion

Re­sist the urge to open the win­dows on the shel­tered side of your house if it is windy. Open­ing wind­ward­fac­ing win­dows in­stead could re­duces the num­ber of flies by up to 90 per cent

Fly spray can be ef­fec­tive but you don’t need much. Look for a spray that has a long resid­ual life that will dis­cour­age flies from land­ing on a sprayed sur­face for at least 30 days

And fi­nally: Some say home­o­pathic reme­dies, in­clud­ing plant­ing aro­matic herbs by the doors or leav­ing a lemon on the win­dow sill, help man­age flies but Klein­paste isn’t con­vinced. ‘‘You hear th­ese things all the time. I haven’t seen repli­cated tri­als that prove they work.’’

Bug man: Ruud Klein­paste speaks about the value of bio­di­ver­sity.

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