Fruit flies are small, but not microscopic, have short life cycles and can reproduce rapidly in tiny spaces with limited resources. These characteristics make fruit flies the model organism for genetic research, but are the very reason why fruit flies are such a nuisance when they appear in our homes.
Identification and Biology
Fruit flies are 1/8 inch long and typically have red eyes. They are one of the smallest and most common flies in houses, restaurants and grocery stores – anywhere food ripens, rots and ferments. Fruit flies begin as eggs before they hatch into legless larvae or maggots. The maggots enter a pupal stage so they can develop into mature, winged adult flies. They are active year round indoors, but their life cycle will slow considerably at cooler temperatures. Under optimal conditions in the summer, they can complete their life cycle in 7-10 days.
The fruit fly has red eyes, two wings, and dark stripes on the abdomen. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.
I love fall in Nebraska – it is my favorite season. Along with the cooler temperatures, lower humidity, beautiful changing landscape and football, we do have to put up with a few accidental invaders looking for warmer places to hang out. Last week, I had two male crickets chirping away in my kitchen. One was under the kitchen sink, the other was near my stove “somewhere”. Of course when I tried to investigate my “choir”, the crickets quickly stopped chirping.
What to do? If you do nothing, the crickets will die in a few days. If you just can’t tolerate this “choir” in your home, try a mouse glue board —
- You can purchase flat, sticky mouse glue boards where mousetraps are sold – farm supply, hardware, discount and even in some grocery stores.
- Cut your glue board down to a size where you can put it out of the way, but near the chirping sound. (Hint: Cut your board before you take off the film protecting the adhesive).
- Once your board is trimmed, pour a small bit of cornmeal right in the center. Crickets are attracted to cornmeal and will get stuck on the board so you can easily take care of the problem.
- If you don’t have small children or pets, you can place your glue boards in corners of the room. This is especially helpful in basements and garages. You’ll catch wandering spiders, beetles and other accidental invaders without using insecticides.
Cindy Lange-Kubick is a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper here in Lincoln. She contacted me yesterday about head lice. Schools are back in session and there have been reports about “Super Resistant Lice” in the news lately – PERFECT TIMING! We had a great conversation. I’ve always enjoyed Cindy’s writing style and I think you will be too. She begins by talking about a nightmare she had … “My head was made of cabbage and the cabbage was full of bugs … “. Now I haven’t had that same nightmare, but we’ve had to deal with lice in our home too over the years so I totally get it (as I scratch my scalp thinking about it!).
I wanted to share Cindy’s article with you because she does a much better job capturing the experience of having head lice!
Here’s a link to the article: “My giant cabbage head and my years as the scalp police” by Cindy Lange-Kubick
While swatting at mosquitoes and trying not to scratch chigger bites, I’m reminded we also need to be checking for ticks. Tick checks were part of our daily routine when I was growing up – just how life is on the farm or if you like to fish and hunt, garden or just enjoy being outside.
If you’ve been outdoors, make sure you check the entire family (and your pets) for ticks. It isn’t hard to do and it should be routine.
Now, let’s get after those ticks!
Dress for Ticks & Wear an Insect Repellent: If you are heading out into potentially tick-infested areas, make sure you prepare! There’s no need to worry about making a fashion statement when tick bite prevention is important. Wear light colored clothing – ticks are easier to see. Wear long pants, sturdy shoes and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck the bottom of your pants into white socks can make it easier to see ticks and this will help keep ticks from crawling up your pants. Now of course, it isn’t always desirable to wear so much clothing on a hot, summer day, but if you are working outdoors or heading out to go fishing it makes sense to protect yourself.
Spray your clothing with an Insect Repellent containing DEET. Be sure to read all label directions especially if you want to use a repellent on a young child – take all precautions. For information on using insect repellents on young children, visit The American Academy of Pediatrics Web page on Insect Repellents or contact your physician. (Note: spraying your clothing with DEET will also give you some protection from chigger bites and mosquitoes).
Once you’ve come indoors:
Check your clothing: Ticks can grab or crawl onto our clothing and be carried into the house. If you find a tick, remove it and kill it (we just used pliers to crush them or a stone). Immediately wash your clothing. Running clothes through a dryer set on high heat for at least an hour effectively kills ticks.
As parents, we’re legally responsible for our children’s welfare until they reach adulthood. Under some circumstances, a parent can be charged with neglect for leaving children unattended or left with under-aged children, including siblings. Check your state law!
Unfortunately, there’s no magical age when our kids develop the maturity and good sense needed to stay alone. However, there are some signs that can help you decide if your child is ready or not.
- …indicates a willingness to stay home alone.
- …shows signs he or she can be responsible.
- …is aware of the needs of others.
- …is able to get ready for school on time.
- …can solve problems on his or her own.
- …completes homework and household chores with minimal supervision.
- …remembers to tell you where they are going and tells you when they arrive home.
Check it out! The July issue of The NEBLINE newsletter is now on-line. Read it free! Here are some of the articles featured in this issue – – – – Visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/nebline and click on the link to the July 2015 NEBLINE!
- Reduce Bullying and Cyberbullying Through Social and Emotional Learning
- Fireworks Safety
- Laundry Stain Removal
- The Weather Challenges for Haying
- Protecting Trees from Borer Damage
- There is Still Time to Control Bagworms in Early July
- Cleaning Up After Raccoons is Serious Business
- Avoiding Chiggers
- 4-H News, Resources
- …. and much more
If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/office/locate.shtml (nationwide listing).
Have a great day!!
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Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –
For casual use, a product containing 10-30% DEET should be adequate. DEET repellents can damage some plants, plastics, leather and some fabrics so use caution when applying.
May was a record-breaking month for rain in many areas of the United States including our own Lincoln, Nebraska area. With all of the rain (and more rain in the forecast), it is no surprise mosquitoes and ticks are out in record numbers. We’re getting many calls on both of these pests here in the office. Today, I’m going to focus on mosquitoes and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.
Around your property:
Dump, dump, dump! Walk around your property and dump any standing water. Encourage your neighbors to do the same. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Even small amounts of water trapped in children’s toys, knotholes of trees, tin cans in your recycling containers, gutters and more can be a potential breeding site for mosquitoes.
Rinse and clean birdbaths on a weekly basis. Cover wading pools.
Keep your lawns mowed and your ornamental plantings like shrubs well-manicured, especially by your home. Mosquitoes rest in these areas.
Repair torn screens and seal any other openings around your home. You don’t want mosquitoes slipping indoors looking for a blood meal.