[Annual Fly Control Issue] Maintaining ILTs for Maximum Effectiveness

Features - Annual Fly Control Issue

Insect light traps (ILTs) can effectively control flying insects in commercial accounts only if they’re maintained properly.



The Eyes Have It!

Flies are remarkable creatures that have survived thousands of years, in part, because of their ability to avoid danger. If you’ve ever tried to sneak up on an unsuspecting fly, you know how difficult it can be. Fortunately, PMPs have a wide range of control options at their disposal, including ILTs that use ultraviolet light to lure flies to an untimely death. All light sources emit some level of UV light, which house flies naturally seek out, mistaking it for the sun’s rays. Insects, like flies, that are attracted to light are said to be phototactic.

Editor’s Note: The following article was adapted from Techletter, a biweekly publication from Pinto & Associates, Mechanicsville, Md. To subscribe, visit www.techletter.com or call 301/884-3020.

Insect light traps (ILTs) can effectively control flying insects in commercial accounts only if they’re maintained properly. A typical maintenance program includes:

Cleaning and inspection.
Most units automatically turn off the electricity when the trap is opened for inspection or maintenance. However, it may be necessary to unplug the unit before cleaning. Each week, dust off the lamps and the guard door. Use a wire brush to clean insects from the grid. Periodically wash the lamps, reflector and grid with warm, soapy water to remove dust, grease and insect parts. Check for indications of electrical problems like damaged wires, cracked insulators, scorched transformers or loose electrical connections.

Cleaning collection trays. Empty and clean the catch tray weekly. Don’t wait until it’s full of insects. Even a couple of dead insects left in a catch tray can attract dermestid beetles or other scavengers. A small paint brush works well to brush insect parts out of the catch tray and cracks and crevices.

Glue board replacement.
Many ILTs use a glue board instead of a catch tray. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacement of the glue board. Boards that become dusty, greasy or are filled with insects won’t do a good job. Even if the glue boards are clean and empty, they can dry out over time and become ineffective.

Examine the catch. The sudden appearance of a new pest, or an increase in trap catch, can warn you of a developing pest problem somewhere in the facility.

Lamp replacement. Most manufacturers recommend that lamps be replaced at least annually. The effective life of a lamp is about 7,000 hours or 9½ months of use. Even if the light looks OK, it may no longer attract insects. Get in the habit of replacing the lamp each spring so that your insect light traps are working at peak when you most need them.

Bulb Replacement Tips
How often should I change the bulbs in ILTs? That depends. Most ILT manufacturers recommend replacement once a year, but qualify that with data that shows that lamp or bulb output drops off quickly. A typical bulb loses 20 percent of its efficiency in just the first four days. Output continues to drop at a decreasing rate to 60 percent in less than three months and after 8,000 hours of use, the UV light (which we can’t see) is no longer attractive to flying insects.

So why then do manufacturers say to change bulbs only once a year? Apparently because it works best for most customers to change the bulbs in the spring. This is when insects are becoming active again for most customers so traps will be operating at peak efficiency during the busiest insect times. If you change bulbs twice a year, which seems to be the better idea, the argument could be made that new bulbs installed in the fall won’t see much use until they have to be replaced again in the spring. Clearly the frequency depends on your circumstances. If you are relying on your ILTs as a monitoring tool in a food facility, or if you’re located in a region with year-round insect pressure, it’s important that your ILTs be operating at peak efficiency during winter months as well. We believe that it is best to routinely change bulbs every six months if you want your traps to work as they should.

How Do I Dispose of Old Bulbs?

Be careful not to break ILT bulbs. Light trap bulbs contain mercury and must be managed as hazardous waste according to EPA. Although EPA would like pest control companies to handle their bulbs as hazardous waste, it has relaxed the regulations to allow businesses to dispose of bulbs as “universal waste.” Used ILT bulbs can be disposed of in sanitary landfills unless you are disposing of large quantities. Some states, however, are more stringent than EPA and require that you dispose of your ILT bulbs as hazardous waste. This usually means that all mercury-added bulbs must be treated, disposed or recycled at an authorized destination facility. Check with your ILT manufacturer to determine your state requirements for disposal of bulbs.

The Business Behind Flies

Integrated fly management approach provides business benefits and higher customer satisfaction.

By Dale Koenig

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, the total number of restaurants in the nation is nearing 1.4 million. For pest management professionals, this represents a business opportunity to implement fly management programs for food establishments that cannot afford having flies as frequent visitors.

In simple terms, flies are not allowed. They are unsightly and more seriously, are vectors for disease. Their presence alone sheds an unfortunate light on establishments, leading customers to fear that unsanitary conditions might be present. Unfortunately for restaurant owners and operators, the environment is perfect for flies — food, trash, kitchen equipment, floor drains, etc., are all common breeding grounds for flies.

The problem with flies is that they are mobile, entering via all avenues of entry in a facility. This creates a need for establishments to implement a comprehensive fly control program utilizing a combination of solutions, including contact and residual insecticides, trapping and monitoring. Some customers only may be thinking about implementing one or two of the aforementioned options. When discussing a control program with your customers, walk through all the options and why each is important to achieve better control of flies.

Contact insecticides. Contact insecticides are commonly used to quickly knock down indoor and outdoor adult fly populations. This is a very useful strategy to control the visible symptoms of an infestation and to quickly reduce the number of egg-laying adults within the facility. This method is most effective when integrated with other techniques that aim at reducing the invasion or reproduction of flies in and around the facility.

Residual insecticides. Residual insecticides are often used to control adult flies on resting sites and other surfaces frequented by flies. This type of treatment is most commonly used around Dumpsters, loading dock areas, and around windows and doorways. It’s meant to kill as many flies as possible either before they enter the structure or before they have an opportunity to lay eggs inside.

Trapping and monitoring. Insect light traps (ILTs) can be useful for both capturing and monitoring flies. ILTs are great at preserving the intact flies for easy analysis. Identification is quick and catch counts allow for trend analysis and accurate recordkeeping. When positioned properly, they can serve as excellent lines of defense against flies coming in from outside. Whether a breeding source exists indoors or outdoors, ILTs can be positioned to capture flies before they enter sensitive areas or even capture them once they’ve entered a sensitive area.

As you discuss fly control program options with your customers, you may find other business opportunities too.

Up-selling opportunities. If your business offers sanitation services in addition to pest control, then you know that facility cleanliness is an important general fly management issue. Upon inspection, you may find sanitation issues your company is equipped to handle, such as drain cleaning and maintenance.

A thorough inspection of the facility also may lead to other pest control options, such as cockroach or rodent control. It’s important to thoroughly discuss all services with your customers and clearly communicate the program in the customer agreement.

Go above and beyond. Take every opportunity to discuss your customers’ problems, educate them on the options and provide your expertise. You have the knowledge and know-how to guide your customers through comprehensive pest control programs to address the specific pest, and further, species of pest. For flies, many species exist and all of them can be found in restaurant environments:

  • Small fruit fly — typically found around ripening fruit, fermenting material, garbage, unrinsed recyclables, drains, mops and other decaying organic matter.
  • Phorid fly — found on decaying organic matter, trash and decayed food under kitchen equipment or in cracks.
  • Bottle fly — common breeding media include meat, garbage or decaying vegetables.
  • House fly — most commonly found on garbage or other decaying matter.
  • Flesh fly — another meat and garbage-lover.

Flies are a reality for any restaurant owner. And with business loss at risk, not to mention federal and state food guidelines that must be followed, leaving them to their own end is not an option. With the right tools, PMPs have the knowledge and expertise to guide customers through comprehensive fly control programs that result in effective, long-term fly control.

The author has 25 years of experience in pest management technical sales and marketing, servicing both pest management professionals and large animal confinement facilities. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and business from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Koenig started his career a chemist with Agrigenetics. He currently works for BASF Pest Control Solutions.

The authors are co-owners of Pinto & Associates, Mechanicsville, Md.