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DROSOPHILA (FRUIT FLIES)

Mouche Drosophile

Description

In everyday language, drosophila are usually called fruit flies or vinegar flies. The most common species, Drosophila melanogaster, is 3 or 4 mm long. It has two red eyes and a partly-striped yellowish-brown body with a few hairs that are longer than the others. The end of each antenna branches like a feather.

Behavior

Small larvae (maggots) hatch from the eggs laid by the female. When they are bigger, the maggots look for a dryer location and transform into nymphs (pupae). Drosophila have small breathing tubes at each of these development stages. The adults emerge and mate after courting which, in the male, consists of producing a sound by vibrating his wings.

Places where they can be found in the home

Since these insects seek out moisture and light, they can often be seen near windows and sinks. The adults may flutter near the food sources they prefer to lay their eggs on – ripe or fermenting fruit, or fermented liquids such as wine, cider, vinegar or beer – and where the yeast that the young feed on develops. Since maggots grow in a moist environment, they may be found at the bottom of a fruit bowl or a container of milk, and sometimes on the surface of fruit. Juices and ketchup can also attract them.

Drosophila can also be seen in tomato processing plants, grocery stores, markets, restaurants, warehouses, breweries, and hospitals. They often look for decomposing plant material, fallen trees, and mushrooms near ponds and near ponds and wet land. Furthermore, their menu also consists of flower nectar.

Prevention methods

  • Make sure trash bags are closed at all times. If you are using a closed trash can, wash the bottom regularly. Sometimes the problem can come from an outdoor waste container.
  • Dispose of banana peels and other scraps quickly.
  • Inspect fruits left out in the open regularly.
  • Rinse out containers destined for recycling, including soft drink bottles and cans.
  • Sponge up spilled liquids quickly and scrub the floor regularly as well as the walls and stove.
  • Inspect wet mops and dish cloths regularly and, whenever possible, dry them outdoors if you have drosophila in the house.
  • You can also try to minimize the risk of them entering the house by installing fine screens or repairing them, and keeping doors closed. However, it is not always easy to ensure that this tiny fly cannot get into the house.

Control methods

The source of the infestation must be located; sometimes this can be a single banana peel. Good housekeeping will usually do the trick. See if there are any ripe fruit in the fruit bowl; if so, put them in a tightly-sealed container and keep an eye on them. Get rid of any fruit you do not intend to eat. Ripe bananas, pineapples, tomatoes and potatoes would be particularly appealing. Inspect drains that flow poorly where a thin layer of organic debris can build up. Clean sinks regularly as well.

You should avoid attracting them, if drosophila is present indoors, you can make a homemade trap by placing a funnel in the opening of a jar containing a bit of banana sprinkled with yeast.

Additional information

 
Drosophila do not attack human beings. Accidentally eating some larvae can cause intestinal irritation or diarrhea. Vineyard workers once suffered from diarrhea because of grape contamination after an adult drosophila has been there. These flies can carry microbes since they hang around rubbish. A particular specie is known to be attracted by excrement as well as food.

Since drosophila reproduce rapidly (the female lays about 500 eggs that can develop in eight days) and have giant chromosomes in their salivary glands, they are often used in various research protocols. They have even enabled some researchers to win a Nobel Prize. Through genetic manipulation, it has been possible to retard aging and prolong life in these insects by 40 to 50%. Apparently, a laboratory fly liberation movement was founded in Utah in the United States. Six names of fly species were to be engraved on a monument erected to make a statement about the martyrdom of laboratory flies !

People dislike the fly so much that it is often painted surrounded by fruit in still lifes to represent the eternal struggle between good and evil. The fly symbolizes the devil in opposition to the more popular butterfly.

The petroleum fly, a relative of drosophila, manages to thrive in pools of oil.

Popular beliefs

In everyday language, we call many insects ‘flies’ that really are not. True flies belong to the order Diptera and have only two wings, while most other insects have four. Sawflies (Hymenoptera) are closer to bees, whiteflies (Hemiptera) to plant bugs, and fireflies (Coleoptera) to ladybugs.

Drosophila does not appear in houses magically. Their eggs are often already present on the skin of fruit you bring home with you. Adults can also find their way into the house.

The role of drosophila is not to pester human beings. Although we do not appreciate having them around our fruits and vegetables where they multiply so rapidly in our homes, they are useful in speeding up the decomposition of plants. The spores that the female transports and deposits with her eggs promote the development of yeasts and the fermentation process.


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