Flies have a vital role says ‘bug man’
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.