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Name: Cheryl
Status: other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 6/12/2004


Question:
Please help!!! I rent an old farm house where we rent the house and there is another person renting the surrounding land for rye and corn. Two weeks ago, the farmer spread, what we believe, is chicken-"crap" fertilizer (it certainly didn't smell like any manure fertilizer I've ever smelt)...the smell for the weekend was unbearable!!! We are now plagued with house flies, as of yesterday. I'm not talking a few here and there...I'm talking hundreds...if not thousands. The outside of the house, on the porch, we can deal with but my bedroom is black on the ceiling and they cover the floor. I believe my husband made the mistake of leaving our window wide open (screen up) while he was painting the house over the weekend in our bedroom...causing all of these daggone things to enter. I'm going to get fly strips, but I was wondering if there was something else available (besides the fly swatter/rolled up newspaper) that could battle this terrible problem...AND...why they congregate on certain portions of the ceiling and not others and why some windows of the house are coated with them and others not...could this represent a problem with the house that we need to check into?


Replies:
Cheryl,

Get a good shop vac with a very long suction hose. Put the vac outside the room and use the extended hose and vac accessory wands to collect the flies. We want the discharge air from the vac to not be allowed to enter the room. That way, the "germs" from the flies won' be able to spread throughout the room.

Let the fly-strips collect any flies that you can't get with the vacuum cleaner. Don't use any kind of fly-sprays lest you contaminate the house with the spray.

Regards,
ProfHoff 864


Flies don't find much food in your house. They slowly get weaker and die. Sometimes a fly in my house spends it's last energy trying to get out thru some closed window, I suppose because he can see more sunlight in that direction. You might get rid of a majority of them by openning something, but then others would come in to look around... If there is a skylight you can open, maybe there are few flies that high outside?

You might try catching a bunch with the hose of a vaccum cleaner. I'd wear a dust mask going into that room.

Unfortunately I know little about repellent scents (maybe there are none for flies, being scavengers), or what convenient scents are attractive, nor whether heat or humidity influence them much.

The typical flying-insect trapping-box has:

- color or lighting to attract from a distance (You could use a fluorescent lamp in a huge clear plastic bag. Fluorescent tubes make less heat than incandescent bulb, can't melt or ignite the bag.) White light with blue and UV are good, yellowish light is poor.)

- attractive scents or warm air drifting out of a funnel, to lead them into it. I don't know, maybe balogne grease on a plate under the fluorescent lamp, to make it a little warm.

- the funnel's small end exits somewhere in the center of the volume of the box, because when they want to get out, they look around the perimeters, not in the middle. When they turn around and look at the entrance, it should look darker, not lighter than the box they are in.

Admittedly, perhaps such a trap is no better than a few square feet of flypaper.

More to the point, you may be able to herd most of them out of one room into another when night comes, so you have at least one room OK or only one room bad. Do this at night by making the sacrificial room light while the room to be cleared is left dark. Try to use bright lamps, maybe two. Halogens are good. Borrow your husband's halogen work-lights. Go into the dark room and agitate every 5 minutes several times to get them moving. Probably difficult to get them to leave a room which smells distinctly good, like a dirty kitchen. Air it all out as well as you can, to suppress smells.

I really doubt your house has much to do with it. But to clean out the crap smell and other unknown smells, one of those electronic air cleaners would be a good thing now. Preferably a strong one. Give the flies less to find interesting too.

Another trick is to realize that cloying smells stick to surface area. Accoustic stucco ceilings, and rugs on the floor, have high surface areas. They will have grabbed a load of the fertilizer smell from the air when it was strongest, and will be slower to "dry up" than the great outdoors or your bare walls. Just maybe that's why flies are staying there. I might put out cheap kitty litter, covering about 4 square feet of newspaper in a room, close the doors and drive air in circles with a fan for a few hours. Idea being to maximize transport of the smell from your textured surfaces into the fine pores of the kitty-litter stones. Then see if the flies leave the room voluntarily or sit still less.

Alternatively, making things warm can help to evaporate smells off of them. If the outdoors is fresh already but flies still like your indoors, try running your heater up to 85 for half hour, then turning it off, openning windows, blowing fans thru them.

Temperature's influence on sticking of smells may be why the flies like some surfaces outside your home. Cool, damp surfaces will retain the smell (to the flies, maybe it's a taste) longer after the wave of stink passes. Or maybe the flies just like the warmest or coolest places, or staying out of the sun. You'd have to try to see for yourself what fits. Consider upwind/downwind and wind-sheltered vs breezy too.

If you can find one of those little ultrasonic pest repellers, battery powered, you might put it on the end of a stick and slowly walk around with it to see if they even try to stay 3ft away from it. I don't think it will work, but it's a fine science experiment. And if it does maybe you have a tool.

I think flies are just about smart enough to, if they accidentally fly out a door, turn around and come back in, if the indoors has some advantage they presently want. Usually I am able to learn a little about handling things like this, if I can bear to stand around and play with it. Perhaps you can too.

Jim Swenson



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