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Joburg residents abuzz over influx of flies: Here’s why & what you can do about it

Joburgers have expressed both confusion and frustration over what seems to be an increase in flies this season.

Some have suggested the increase of the pesky insects is related to garbage refuse, others say the weather has had an impact.

But Professor Chris Weldon, associate professor of Entomology at the University of Pretoria, has shed some light on the situation.

Anyone know what’s causing this amount of flies? Big green buggers???? Summer time in Joburg has its flies but, this year, it’s like we’re in Australia….

— BrownSugar ???? (@UrsulaChikane) January 13, 2020

It’s the end of the world and Joburg us going to get wiped out by flies. The image is both disgusting and hilarious.

— Resident Mokhaphi (@Kayy_ZA) January 12, 2020

While he hasn’t noticed this increase himself, living next door to a neighbour who owns chickens, he says he has been told by some that there seem to be more flies this summer than in the past.

Breed in decaying organic matter

Weldon suspects this is because of the warm dry winter and late rains Joburg experienced last year. Dung beetles could have been negatively affected.

Since flies, like houseflies and blowflies, breed in “decaying organic matter” including faeces, Weldon said there may have been “more dung available for the flies to breed”.

“In addition, we may have started the summer with more flies available to breed. This is because flies, like all insects, are “cold-blooded”, so warmer conditions support their activity and development, and there are fewer fly deaths caused by cold weather in winter”.

Weldon also has some tips for long-suffering folks to get rid of flies, saying he prefers not use insecticides.

“While these flies can be a nuisance, they also play an important role in the environment.

“The adults visit flowers to feed on nectar so they can be important pollinators, and the larvae helps to degrade waste and recycling nutrients,” he said.

“Houseflies and blowflies are strongly attracted to dung and food scraps, so removing these is a good way to reduce the number of flies.”

Picking up your pet’s faeces and sealing it in a plastic bag before throwing it away might also help, as well as making sure your garbage bin lid is sealed properly.

“[This] will help to reduce available breeding sites for these flies,” he added.

“Installing insect screens on windows and doors stops flies from entering your house. There are fly traps that can be purchased and installed in gardens, but they won’t catch all of them.

“If flies get into your house, you can hang sticky paper traps and use fly swats to kill them, and cover food to stop them from coming in contact with it,” Weldon said.

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