Feniton has been suffering yet again with swarms of flies which is making life utterly miserable. Residents have been unable to enjoy their gardens and have to keep windows and doors firmly shut.
My phone has been red hot with callers asking what measures can be taken to resolve this seemingly persistent problem. The Environmental Health Officers (EHO) at EDDC are on the case and inspecting the poultry sheds on the edge of the village at Long Park and on Green Lane to ensure that a larvicide regime is in place and being adhered to.
The EHOs need to build up a picture of the problem and ask that if you are being affected that you use sticky fly papers (not the ones which contain an insecticide). Note the date when you put it up and leave it in place for a week. Store the sample in a cardboard box (not a plastic bag) and note the date that you took it down. The EHOs will collect the samples, identify the type of fly and assess how many flies have been killed in the period the fly paper was up. Her most recent report is below:
“We have been collecting fly samples from Feniton residents to help identify the species of fly which has in turn assisted us in determining where the flies are coming from. I have examined the samples submitted to us so far and it would appear that most residents are being affected by the Common Housefly in varying degrees. Thank you to those residents who have supplied us with samples so far.
Many of you will know that we have been investigating fly nuisance associated with this farm and others in East Devon for several years and have worked closely with farmers to achieve improvements. This work has resulted in a significant decrease in the occurrence of fly problems associated with poultry across the district. We have received a number of fly related complaints over the years from Feniton residents, some of which were connected to the poultry sheds and others which were connected to a different source and on some occasions it was found that the flies causing a problem were breeding naturally in the countryside environment. Both the farmer and ourselves know what has caused the problem this year and we are disappointed that this situation was not picked up earlier by him: once a fly breeding ground has established it may take several weeks to bring under control.
Common Housefly can develop in various decaying matter but if residents are experiencing large numbers of the same species of fly in their properties, it is usual that there will be a large source relatively close by where the flies are developing. We have considered all potential sources in the area and visits have been made to the local poultry farms along Green Lane and at Long Park. When we originally contacted the farm on the 13th May we were advised that there had been an issue with flies in the shed earlier that week and there had been a delay in applying a larvicide treatment to the manure due to a supply issue. However, a treatment had been carried out on the 11th May and they were hopeful fly numbers would start to drop. I visited the poultry unit again last week and was advised that another larvicide treatment had been applied to the manure to try and keep on top of the problem. I was also advised that they had scheduled in other treatments for last week which would help knock down the adult flies. I can confirm that there were a number of dead flies in the shed during my visit which suggests that the treatments are starting to work, but there was still evidence of a fly problem in the shed. We are still vigorously monitoring the situation and will re-visit again in a fortnight to obtain a final update regarding the fly levels and it will be at this stage that we decide whether formal action needs to be taken.
From previous cases we know that even after an application of treatment has been applied, it can still take a period of time to see a reduction in fly levels. I would be grateful if you could update me regarding the level of flies you are currently experiencing; are things getting better or worse? I am hopeful that since our last two visits to the poultry farm, you should be experiencing a decrease in fly numbers. If you have not seen an improvement or you feel levels are increasing, I will need to show this as part of the investigation and will therefore need you to monitor fly levels. This is usually done with the aid of fly papers which we can supply. I am available to drop off fly papers and collect samples on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
Whilst the situation is being brought under control, there are a number of things that residents can also do:
1. Use sticky fly papers near doors and windows to attract flies to them – sometimes hanging them in shady areas such as porches or sheds is effective too.
2. Hang a pheromone trap (red top fly catcher) in the garden a short distance from the house. These attract flies to them which would otherwise go indoors. We can supply you with one of these.
3. Use a contact insecticide spray (“Doom” or “Raid” are usually effective against house flies) as a space spray and around window and door reveals.
We would like to point out at this stage that the legal process regarding fly nuisance involves an investigation, recommending effective action and assessing the success of that before any formal stages. If we determine that there is a continuing nuisance we are required to serve an Abatement Notice which specifies works which must be undertaken to abate the nuisance and prevent a recurrence. If this is not carried out within the period of time specified on the notice, and if a serious fly nuisance persists, then we have no option but to prosecute the offender for breaching the notice which can result in a large fine. This can be quite a long process. We are unable to close a business down or to manage the situation ourselves.”
At the time of writing, I am still getting calls from people concerned about the number of flies … they are talking about hundreds of flies in the house and eating in the garden is totally impossible.
I’ll keep in touch with the Environmental Health Officers to hear how remedial action is progressing. Meantime, please email her (firstname.lastname@example.org), copying me in (email@example.com), and let us know if the situation is improving.