New York State IPM Program

June 30, 2015
by Matt Frye
Comments Off on Fruit Flies of a Different (eye) Color

Fruit Flies of a Different (eye) Color

A common pest in homes is the red-eyed fruit fly: Drosophila melanogaster. Famous for use in genetic studies, and infamous for emerging from store-bought bananas, management of this fly rarely requires more than discarding infested items outside of the home.


A dark-eyed fruit fly adult

Management of this fly’s cousin, the dark-eyed fruit fly (Drosophila repleta), also requires elimination of breeding habitat. However, finding and addressing that habitat can be more difficult. This is because dark-eyed fruit flies develop in wet, decaying organic material that may be out of sight. They are common pests in bars, restaurants, and some coffee shops where they breed under equipment, near drains, sinks, and beverage taps. In these accounts, customers may observe flies near food, drinks or when they rest on walls. Flies may defecate (poop) on walls and leave black fecal spots on otherwise light-colored surfaces, affecting your client’s brand.

Identify the Problem.

When dealing with dark-eyed fruit flies, the first and most important step is a thorough inspection to identify breeding locations. Focus your inspection on places that remain wet, and where food spillage might be present. In addition to sinks and drains, consider moisture from condensation on refrigerators, ice machines and pipes.

Gaps around sinks and drains allow food and moisture to accumulate, providing breeding habitat for fly larvae or maggots.

Over time, tile grout can break down or be removed, especially in commercial kitchens that are wet cleaned nightly. These spaces can accumulate food and hold moisture to create fly breeding habitat.

Address the Problem.

Whether structural or sanitation issues contribute to fly problems, the solution is to remove breeding habitat. Keeping areas dry and free of food spillage will avoid future problems with fly breeding. Some questions to consider: Is there tile grout missing, allowing water and crumbs to accumulate? Is the floor angled or are depressions present that collect water? Does food fall behind or under equipment and is not regularly cleaned? Are floors power-washed at night, lodging food and water in areas that are out of sight or stay wet throughout the day? Are there cracks and crevices near the sink that do not have a sealant?

Quick Fix.

Once a maggot has completely developed, it will crawl out of its moist breeding habitat and find a dry place to pupate. This fly developed in the moist gap below, and is seen here in a corner of the sink.

Addressing structural or sanitation issues are a long-term solution that will prevent fly breeding. But what can be done in the immediate future to address customer concerns? Dark-eyed fruit flies are attracted to insect light traps, which can be installed in kitchen areas. Traps may also be placed out at night when all other lights are off to harvest active flies. In addition, fans can be used to dry out breeding areas or to keep flies out of customer spaces.

What NOT To Do.

Bug bombs and general pesticide applications do nothing to address the breeding fly population, and therefore do nothing to prevent future problems. Similarly, pest-strips containing dichlorvos are sometimes used illegally for management of fruit flies in restaurants. According to the label, these products are intended for use in confined spaces where people are present for no more than four hours at a time. They are not to be used in areas where food is prepared, stored or consumed. For more information on pest-strips, see our previous post, Pest-Strips: A Kitchen No-No!

May 13, 2014
by Matt Frye
Comments Off on Top 5 Pest Hangouts — in Your Kitchen

Top 5 Pest Hangouts — in Your Kitchen

Spring! Time to fling open the windows, plant some flowers — and begin the annual tradition of spring-cleaning. But are you getting to all those places where pests find food, water, or shelter? Householders tend to overlook these five places. And they could be just the spots where pests come for a free meal or to catch a few zzzz’s.

Clean these often:

The Stove Top — or rather, the space right beneath it

Stove Top

Stove Top

Most cooks wipe down the top of the stove when they’ve fixed a meal. But what about the space under the stove lid? Here, spilled liquids, crumbs and other food materials can accumulate out of sight, providing food for rodents, cockroaches, and other pests.

Counter-Top Ledges

Counter-top Ledges

Counter-top Ledges

Crumbs, spilled coffee, whatever — they’re easy to see and clean up on your countertops. But food particles and liquid can accumulate on the undersides of ledges too. So while you’re at it, wipe down those ledge undersides.

The Toaster



Toasters and toaster ovens are great hidey-holes for crumbs. Lots of crumbs. Just be safe when you clean — unplug the toaster. Then pull out the tray and wash it. For even better results, invert the device to shake out the crumbs or go at it with your vacuum cleaner.

Behind the Faucet

Behind the Faucet

Behind the Faucet

The sink is our go-to place for cleaning dishes and utensils. But how often do we remember to clean behind the faucet or around its handles? Here, water and spilled food particles could make for the pest equivalent of the soup kitchen if not cleaned regularly.

The Trash Receptacle

Trash Receptacle

Trash Receptacle

Let’s face it — plastic bags are easy to tear. Too often, something we toss out tears the bag; then the combination of (for instance) food scraps and wet coffee ground means we’ve got stuff leaking out. The solution? Clean the receptacle when you take out the trash.

Sanitation. It’s core to managing pests.

All photos by Matt Frye, NYS IPM

April 1, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Mice in Your School? Who’s Job Is It, Anyway?

Mice in Your School? Who’s Job Is It, Anyway?

School kitchens, cafeterias, and food storage areas provide great habitat for mice. And it takes real dedication and attention to detail to deep-clean those hard to reach places.

Those greasy pathways and mouse droppings — are they days or months old? Only thorough, timely cleaning will keep you on top of your game.

Those greasy pathways and mouse droppings — are they days or months old? Only thorough, timely cleaning will keep you on top of your game.

But here’s why you’ve got to: Mouse droppings, urine, and even the greasy sebum trail — grease marks from protective oils on rodent fur —aren’t just health risks and code violations. They make it really hard to tell whether your pest management practices are working. Because — how could you know if these droppings are days or months old?

Behind equipment. Deep under sinks. Hard to reach corners. They’re easy to miss during daily cleanings. And often they’re not in the contract between a school and its service provider. Or if everything is handled in-house, they can get lost as different departments assign their roles and responsibilities.

Assign deep-cleaning responsibilities as soon as you possibly can.

What best management practices prevent mouse problems?

Every day:

  • Clean up food scraps, spills, and grease residue asap
  • Sweep and wash floors — often
  • Place garbage in outdoor dumpster
  • Rinse all garbage cans inside and out — including wheel wells
  • Clean — and dry — countertops
  • Clean up spills, grease, and sugar on stove tops and cooking or warming units

Every week:

  • Clean hard-to-reach areas — molding, walls, and flooring behind and under appliances and cooking equipment
  • Clean food carts, shelves, wheels, and wheel-wells
  • Clean work-area shelves and food-tray return areas
  • Clean with food storage areas — and get rid of clutter

Every three months:

  • Move vending machines; clean under, behind, and to the sides
  • Clean greasy buildup on light fixtures
  • Find ways to reduce those difficult-to-clean areas to a minimum: put equipment on casters, move equipment 6″ from walls, and remove inoperative equipment

Preventing pests and careful monitoring are two vitally important IPM practices. Thorough cleaning eliminates not only food and shelter, but evidence of past pest issues as well — and saves you time and money in the long run. We’ll say it again: Assign responsibility for these cleaning practices as soon as possible.


Author: Joellen Lampman, School and Turfgrass IPM Extension Support Specialist

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