(Also known as ‘Musca Domestica’ in the Pantry)
It’s about this time of year that I get an influx of house flies flittering around my kitchen annoying me, landing on my flesh, my food & my work tops – I hate the little bug-gers.
It was over 20 years ago that I was at city college as a catering student. I remember one particular class really well and that lesson was in Science, all about kitchen bugs.
It wasn’t just any old science at catering school it was the best science – food science. And out of all the stuff we must have learned I only remember one thing – that flies’ land on food and vomit!
The common house hold fly is nothing other than disgusting. The little bug-gers head straight to the kitchen, with their amazing sense of smell. They fly like helicopters with great speed and agility, that’s why it’s so bloody hard to whop ‘em, that and their super hero compound eye sight for panoramic views. I’ve tried many a time to catch them in chop sticks only giving up to whack em one, with my trusty fly squatter – splattering them horridly all over my clean kitchen, only to spray and wipe for the millionth time.
But let’s get to the disgusting part – – the part where I zoom past the fact that they live for only a month and can have 10 generations in a single year. With the female laying up to 500 eggs in clusters over a few days in moist conditions, when I say moist conditions I mean a good old decomposing food source or any old poo – there not fussy!!! Then the little maggots have an instant food source to tuck in to when they emerge 8 – 20 hours later, wriggling around in rotten decomposing trash or stinky old manure. All white and wriggly they moult their skin 3 times over their (up to) 30 days of maturing, while munching away on whatever rotting food source they hatched on before wriggling up to 10 metres away to find a nice dry spot to carry on their journey – – – –
A Doctor once told me a baby’s dummy at A&E was moving and when they cut it open it was full of maggots! You see they’ll lay their eggs on any old wet food stuff, think about that for a minute, when you leave something yummy and gooey on the side in the middle of summer!
Flies love the heat, they live longer, maggots develop quicker and pupa turn the maggots into the flies at super-fast fibre optic broadband speed –
When the maggot wriggles to a nice dry spot, its skin toughens and turns brown, the pupa stage, takes 2 – 27 days, weather depending. The flies then escape from the pupa by a pulsating hammer like device on its head, breaking free in their hundreds to terrorize your kitchens.
They can die within 3 days if they can’t find food – – but they generally do find something liquidy to land on and all sorts of smells will bring them in, squeezing through the smallest of spaces and buzzing straight to the food source or poo pile, they especially love the smell of fermentation and rotting fruit.
The fly has just two things on its weeny little brain – – sweet food and a lover. (it’s not just flies that have those 2 things in its tiny brain, but that’s another blog!). You know when you see several flies buzzing around and then they get close together and do a little quick step in the air – that’s them impressing each other. Eventually they’ll get jiggy with it, the female prefers only to mate once – storing the s? (I can’t write that word) in her body for eternal use. She can lay up to 1000 rice grain like eggs in her month-ish-long life time.
The poo’s the problem because they just love laying eggs on it, it’s so squishy, moist and warm making the perfect habitat for the maggots to feed on – in the heat of summer maggots could turn from egg to wiggly thing in only 8 hours.
But after that flies landed on that poo its picked up harmful pathogens on its hairy feet, it then fancy’s a nibble and aims straight for your kitchen to your chopping board with a splodge of tomato juice or left out curry or that little bit of sauce dripping down the bottle, or that spillage of sugary tea on the floor you never got round to wiping up or that sticky stuff on the fridge handle or that juicy juice that spilled on to the worktop and the dirtier the kitchen the more flies will be attracted in – especially when the food starts to decompose in the nooks and crannies.
Here’s the gross bit – – flies don’t have mouths so they can’t digest solids, instead they have a ‘Proboscis’ a nosel or a feeding tube a bit like a mini elephant trunk.
So, they have to eat liquids, anything they can slurp up – –
But that doesn’t stop them eating solids – – oh, NO
To break up solids they vomit the contents of their stomach on to the food, causing the enzymes to turn solids to liquid thus enabling them to sip it up in to their stomachs before vomiting it back up again on the next food spillage victim.
They’ll eat anything, especially sweet, moist foods with a bit of rot. So those food bits decomposing on the edges of your kitchen floor and splashed up your skirting boards are especially tasty. And they absolutely love the contents of your bin – – especially when its smelly and decomposing, a prime spot to lay a few 100 eggs on. Orchard apples are also a good target for laying eggs on or in, along with wild animal poo, un-bagged nappy’s and road kill.
Because they are constantly vomiting, they need to drink plenty of fluid and we all know what that does to the body – – what goes in has to come out. So, while there vomiting on your food and sucking it up in to their stomachs, there also defecating too but not before treading over the food with their pooey feet packed with little pathogens of Illness!
And yes, they may well lay their eggs in an open wound – its moist, decomposing and a great tasty food source.
Of, course you can wave them away but as soon as you’re not watching, one little bug-ger will land on your buttery crumpet and if your still not watching – up comes the vomit and out comes the wee.
So – – when that time of year comes, when its lovely and hot and the little bug-gers have had a good winter nap. And we open our windows to let the light cool British breeze in, we also let them in too – – –
So how do we get rid of the little Bug-gers ?
Apart from smashing them with a newspaper or spraying chemical stuff all over your kitchen.
You can use a natural replant– a lemon cut in half with a few cloves stuck in the top. I save my squeezed lemon halves, throw in 6 – 8 cloves and leave them by windows and by the bin.
Or a spraymade with peppermint and lemongrass oils, mixed with a little washing liquid and a generous amount of water.
Or make a
Trap – fill a jar with an inch of cider vinegar, top with a few millimetres of washing liquid, which will float on the top – cover with cling film and poke out a couple of holes. The smell of the vinegar will attract them in and hopefully they’ll drown. Alternatively fill with rotten apple – – to trap but not to kill them.
Make a flower / Herb displayof Lavender, basil, lemon grass, rosemary and mint – – they all act as a deterrent.
Alternatively whack em– – – – but please make sure you use a septate cloth and spray to clean up the bloody splatter marks. And make sure there dead – there tough little cookies and have the habit of being stunned and bouncing back.
If there so disgusting why do we need them – –
Well, maggots are what we need and to get maggots we need flies to get jiggy and to get jiggy they need energy from food – sometimes our food.
Maggots help decompose food, road kill and the like, heal wounds, catch fish (as bait of course, they don’t actually go fishing!)
Here’s an interesting fact – if you put enough maggots together they create so much heat, they boil themselves dead! Oh, ‘”another” you ask – ok – – if one of them is ill they cannibalise it! – – “what about another” I hear you scream- – ok – – they don’t have legs but hook like teeth that cut through the decomposing rotting food and foul flesh – – – – – – “that’s enough”!?!?! – oh ok
Then there’s the forensics – – we can age an exact time of death from maggot development and activity.
They even help heal wounds only eating the bad stuff and leaving the clean fresh flesh alone.
Money in maggots – – it’s the future of animal and fish food.
Plus, don’t forget some cheese is developed to be eaten crawling with maggots, it’s a delicacy. (I’m out that day)
So, now as I’ve revolted you I may as well give you some well-meaning tips on how to keep away the flies, stop them ‘maggoting’ your kitchen and hopefully cut down on food spoilage and contamination.
After all – Trust me I’m a chef.
Kitchen Cleanliness ––
- Always have a lid on your bin and empty it regularly, not allowing it to over flow (yes, Nick ((that’s my hubby))).
- Always clear up spillages straight away.
- Wipe down work surfaces with an antibacterial spray and clean cloth. (change your cloths regularly too)
- Sweep floors when bitty!
- Wash up or soak the dishes, so there not sitting around for too long.
- Give your dishwasher a weekly deep clean – – bacteria can get right in to the edges where the door shuts.
- Don’t leave food out, or cover food.
- Regularly clean your sink and under the washing bowl.
- Wash your hands really well before cooking, after handling high risk items and after food preparation, eating or toileting etc.
- Stock rotate food in the fridge and elsewhere, throwing out far from its best food.
Enjoy, your day!!!!
By Zena Leech-Calton ©
Photo taken from images – Sun Live – By Cameron Webb Stuff NZ