Flies spread disease-causing pathogens, making them a serious health risk, particularly in food preparation and health care settings.
Drain flies are minute 1/10-inch long brown to black flies covered with dense hair that gives them a fuzzy appearance. Weak fliers, they prefer to jump or hop. They breed in the organic sludge that accumulates around drains and overflow pipes and are suspected of spreading harmful pathogens because they feed on decomposing organic matter and animal dung. Dust from their decomposing bodies triggers asthma. Periodic scrubbing of drain openings to remove slimy accumulations and regular flushing to prevent stagnant water in drain pipes help control these pests.
Fruit flies are one of most common pests in commercial kitchens, restaurants and groceries. Tan with red eyes, these tiny 1/8-inch long flies lay their eggs on the surface of decaying fruits and vegetables. They are often seen hovering in kitchens and groceries and over trash receptacles.
House flies are 1/2 inch long and dark gray to black with veined wings and protruding complex eyes. Posing a significant health risk, they scavenge and breed on decomposing animal and plant matter, picking up and spreading more than 100 disease-causing pathogens, including dysentery, hepatitis, tuberculosis, polio, typhoid fever and cholera.
Phorid flies, also called hump-back flies, resemble fruit flies but without red eyes. These pinhead-size flies can be identified by their unusual habit of running across surfaces to escape, rather than flying. Feeding in moist, decaying organic matter, these flies are suspected of transmitting disease and pose a health threat in health care and food preparation settings.
A yellowjacket in NYC and New Jersey.Stinging insects send more than 500,000 Americans to the emergency room every year. Between 50 and 100 people die from bee or wasp stings annually. Wasps, particularly hornets and yellow jackets, are more aggressive than bees.
Bees have hairy bodies with thick waists and live in large social hives governed by a caste system that defines each individual’s role. Their barbed stinger only allows them to sting once before dying, With the exception of wood-destroying carpenter bees, bees are beneficial insects that feed on nectar and pollinate plants. Big, round bumble bees and small, metallic-green halictid (sweat) bees are ground dwellers. Federally-protected honey bees usually nest in hollow trees, but may build their wax-comb hives under siding or in chimneys. When this occurs, professional beekeepers are brought in to relocate the hive.
Carpenter bees are solitary bees that live in mating pairs. These huge 1 1/2-inch long bees are named for the noisy, drill-like buzzing they make as females tunnel into unpainted outdoor wood to lay their eggs. Stingerless males are extremely aggressive, dive bombing anyone who comes near the nest. These wood-destroying bees can decimate wood siding, lawn furniture and play sets.
Hornets are the largest wasp species in the U.S. Most common in rural areas, these 1 1/4-inch long wasps are highly aggressive and live in large, football-shaped aerial hives.
Wasps have smooth bodies with nipped-in waists and straight stingers that allow them to sting repeatedly. Predators, they feed on insects and discarded sugar- and protein-rich foods. Wasps build papery nests from partially-chewed wood and, depending on species, nest underground, in aerial hives or under sheltered eaves in umbrella-like open combs. With the exception of the fertilized queen, the entire colony dies in the winter.
Yellow jackets are responsible for the majority of life-threatening stinging insect attacks in the U.S. Between 1/2 and 3/4 inch long, they live in massive underground nests but may locate in attics or building wall voids. Highly aggressive, these wasps will swarm and attack without provocation.
Other Flying Insects
Indian meal moths are 5/8 inch long with a reddish-copper mark on each white wing tip. Weak fliers, they may be seen resting on walls near food stores. A serious problem in food storage plants, though not a health threat, these pantry pests lay their eggs in dry plant products, particularly grains, cereals, nuts, beans, dried fruit, seeds and spices. After hatching, larvae spin fine silken webs that render food inedible.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water, including clogged gutters, bird baths, drainage ditches, and outdoor pet dishes. They spend their entire lives near their breeding site. Most active at dawn and dusk, these blood-sucking insects transmit West Nile virus, encephalitis, dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria and canine heart worm.