Flies Find Home In New Orleans Rubble

Dale K. Pollet, Blanchard, Tobie M.  |  11/22/2005 4:17:04 AM

News Release Distributed 11/21/05

While people have been slow to return to New Orleans, one population inhabiting the city in large numbers is the pesky phorid fly, according to an expert with the LSU AgCenter.

The pest – also known as the humpback fly or worse yet, the coffin fly – is finding a host of homes throughout the city.

"Phorid flies can breed in a few sips left in a soft drink can," explained LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Dale Pollet, adding that New Orleans unfortunately offers a whole lot more for the pests right now.

The mounds of decaying organic matter left in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita provide perfect breeding grounds for these flies, Pollet says.

"They can be seen around refrigerators and trash piles around the city," he said.

Phorid flies also have found their way into homes as well, even ones that were well sealed, according to Pollet.

"They can get into drains and live in garbage disposals that are not flushed out regularly," he said of another area where the pests can be found.

Once such an infestation occurs, it is difficult to get rid of the pests, Pollet advises, explaining that the pests "can go from egg to adult in about 14 days under ideal conditions."

With these little pests flying about, it is easy to mistake them for fruit flies, but Pollet says there is a way to tell the difference.

"When you chase them on the counter, if they just sort of run a long ways before they decide to fly, that is probably a phorid fly," Pollet explains. "Usually fruit flies are active and fly readily."

The species of phorid flies infesting the area around New Orleans should not be confused with the beneficial phorid fly, according to Pollet, who says, "You have to separate the good from the bad."

Beneficial phorid flies are used to control fire ants. While they are in the same family, the species in New Orleans is mainly a nuisance.

Good sanitation is the best way to avoid or get rid of an infestation, Pollet says, adding that chemical controls can work to manage an infestation.

"If you have phorid flies in your house, clean the drains real well," advises Pollet. "Make sure you scrub the floors, and get in cracks and crevices where food can accumulate."

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Contact: Dale Pollet at (225) 578-2370 or dpollet@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer: Tobie Blanchard at (225) 578-5659 or tblanchard@agcenter.lsu.edu

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