Fly control: Knowing is half the battle


September 27, 2023

Photo: Gewoldi/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: Gewoldi/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was G.I. Joe. Not only was the show itself great, but each episode featured a public safety message that always closed with the catchphrase, “And knowing is half the battle!”

I learned a lot from those safety lessons as a kid, but it was G.I. Joe’s signature catchphrase that turned out to have the greatest impact on me as an adult. I hear those six words echo through my mind every time I troubleshoot an infestation. This is especially true when it comes to managing flies.

Flies can be incredibly frustrating to control. For starters, many species are small, which allows them to easily enter structures through tiny holes or gaps that may go unnoticed. Most species reproduce at lightning speed, allowing populations to skyrocket if they have access to the proper resources. Plus, immature flies can feed on a wide range of food sources commonly found in and around homes such as produce, food scraps and other refuse, and even pet excrement. The combination of these factors can quickly turn a minor issue into a major infestation.

Dr. Michael Bentley, BCE

Dr. Michael Bentley, BCE

Despite these seemingly impossible odds, there is hope. The key in most cases is simply taking the time to identify your fly. Most ongoing fly problems can’t be resolved without breaking the life cycle. This means finding and eliminating the larval breeding site in or around the structure, which can differ greatly by species.

Knowing the species of fly you’re controlling will quickly narrow the endless catalog of possible food sources and larval development sites to a more manageable number. Once you’ve eliminated the breeding sites, you can address any remaining adult flies and move on to long-term prevention measures. This likely will include working with your client to resolve any exclusion, sanitation and waste management concerns.

The next time you’re up against a stubborn fly issue, remember the sage wisdom of G.I. Joe. You’re always going to be in the best position for success after you identify your target pest, because knowing really is half the battle!

About the Author

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Dr. Bentley is director of training and education for the National Pest Management Association. You can reach him at

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