Greg Baumann

You may have noticed lately that there is more than spring in the air.

With the warmer weather comes a wealth of pest activity, which can include flies looking for a free meal at your long-term care or assisted living facility. Flies are common pests in healthcare facilities – second only to ants, according to a survey of Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) members conducted by Orkin and AHE last year – and it takes more than grandma’s fly swatter to deter them.

For the healthcare industry, some of the smallest pest flies can cause the biggest problems. Fruit, phorid, moth and other common “small fly” infestations can damage your reputation and potentially lead to contamination – flies can carry billions of harmful microorganisms on and in their bodies, making them a potent disease vector.

These pests can be hard to manage and, unfortunately, many facilities do not include fly control as a regular component of their pest management program. Controlling flies through prevention should be a crucial part of your pest management strategy. This can be achieved by implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tactics. Instead of reacting to pest problems with chemical treatments, IPM focuses on proactively controlling pests through sanitation, facility maintenance and exclusion techniques.

Guard your doors

An ongoing fly control program can start with exclusion practices at entrances to your facility. Consider installing automatic doors — or, better yet, a second set of sliding doors — to your facility. The automatic doors will keep heavily-used entrances closed when not in use and create an added barrier for flies to cross.

You can fortify your entrances even more by installing wall-mounted fans that blow air out against pests. Also, check with an HVAC professional to ensure that your buildings have positive airflow – this means that air flows out of, not into, your building when the doors are opened.

As another line of defense, consider installing wall-mounted Insect Light Traps (ILTs) near your entrances. ILTs can attract and trap flies before they make their way too far into your facility.

Stay clean to stay clear

Flies are often attracted to buildings because of food odors. This means long-term care and assisted living facilities are especially at risk of flies as they typically include both kitchens and dining rooms.

To turn flies off, rotate your produce stock frequently and regularly inspect potential breeding sites, such as garbage collection areas or floor drains where organic matter can accumulate. Clean up any spills inside your facility immediately and use a bacterial cleaner to dissolve organic material on drains and floors that can attract fruit and drain flies.

Empty trash cans and recycle bins often, especially if they contain food waste. Line all trash containers and recycle bins with plastic liner bags and keep them covered. Outside, keep your dumpsters clean, closed and as far away from your building as possible. Also, rotate them often.

Proper sanitation not only eliminates food and water sources for flies but can also remove odor-causing organisms like bacteria and other undesirable compounds.

Do the little things

There are several other small, but significant IPM tactics you can implement to deter flies at your facility. Caulk any cracks or crevices around the exterior of your building and seal all doors and windows with weather stripping. Additionally, install correctly fitting door sweeps to help keep flies out.

Remember, flies are never the problem; they are a symptom of a problem. Once you correct any issues at your establishment that may be attracting flies or allowing them to thrive, you can guard your establishment from them. Work with your pest management professional to identify the type of flies plaguing your establishment and develop a custom IPM plan to help make your facility a fly-free zone.

Greg Baumann is vice president of training and technical Service for Orkin. A degreed chemist and licensed pest management professional, his global pest management experience spans 30 years. For more information, e-mail [email protected] or visit