By Jennifer Brumfield, Training and Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
As the weather continues to heat up, so will pest pressures on your restaurant. Summer is peak season for a variety of pests, but flies, in particular, are an issue many commercial kitchens face this time of year.
Flies should be a top pest control concern for restaurants for five reasons:
Among the filthiest of all pests, flies can carry and transmit numerous diseases, including typhoid, cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, salmonella, and anthrax. They can even transmit the eggs of parasitic worms. Flies carry diseases on their legs and the hairs that cover their bodies. Every time they land they can defecate, regurgitate, and deposit thousands of bacteria in only seconds.
A female housefly can produce up to 1,000 eggs in her lifetime, which is typically about a month. In ideal conditions, eggs can hatch within 24 hours and larvae can develop into adults in as little as 7-10 days. This means that without proper prevention and control techniques in place, a population explosion can occur and become out of control – fast.
They do more than annoy diners. For many people, even one fly is one too many, and being forced to swat at a fly during the course of a meal can make or break their opinion of your establishment. But flies can damage your reputation without being seen by diners, too. While foodborne illness (potentially spread by flies) is not always dramatic, if someone dines at your restaurant and doesn’t feel well the next day, they may intuitively associate how they feel with what they ate and may be less likely to revisit your establishment.
Flies cannot only be responsible for loss of customer-base, but regulatory fines from government agencies.
Persistent fly problems are usually a sign that sanitation gaps exist. While an establishment may seem clean on the surface, flies could be breeding in inconspicuous areas that are overlooked. Poor sanitation can lead to numerous other problems, including other pests like rodents and cockroaches.
If not dealt with properly, flies can become a recurring problem that is both unsightly and unsanitary. The good news is a few small changes to maintenance and sanitation routines can help prevent fly problems.
Flies thrive in areas where cleanliness is not up to par, so sanitation is crucial in preventing a fly infestation. Trash cans, drains and drain traps should be kept clean. Floors should be mopped regularly and dried properly afterward. Counter spaces and chopping blocks should be wiped down regularly and all food should remain refrigerated when it is not being used.
Leaving windows and doors open should be avoided as much as possible. Exclusion techniques, such as screening vents, doors and windows, and sealing them with weather stripping, can also help prevent fly entry. Air curtains, which are high-speed fans that create a wall of air that flies can’t penetrate, can also be installed at entranceways to help keep flies from entering.
Incoming food shipments should be inspected for fly activity, as this may be a sign that fly eggs have been deposited on the materials. Produce should be routinely rotated to help maintain freshness and eliminate any moisture that fly maggots need to thrive.
Work with a pest management professional to regularly inspect and monitor for signs of fly activity and determine the best fly control techniques for your establishment. An ongoing fly control program that utilizes sanitation, exclusion and mechanical controls as part of an Integrated Pest Management program can help keep filthy flies from negatively affecting business.
Jennifer Brumfield in a Board Certified entomologist and Training and Technical Specialist for Western Pest Services, a New-Jersey based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.