Berwyn Evans, Head of SME, Rentokil Pest Control
Flies have gained a reputation for being annoying, awarded to them for their irritating buzzing noise and general knack of landing on food just as you’d like to eat it. However, for managers of hotels the presence of flies poses a real concern. They are a risk to human health as they can cause contamination when they land on food, work surfaces and equipment, especially in kitchens.
These flying pests can spread diseases such as Salmonella and E.coli as they move from one food source to another, while some species of fly can even bite. Vigilance in the hospitality sector is paramount especially as flies are one of the UK’s most common causes of food poisoning. The mere presence of flies can also affect health and safety regulation compliance.
In light of the recent warmer weather, kitchen staff will likely notice an increase in the presence of flies on their premises. This is the time when adult insects will start to emerge to find decaying food, animal and human waste to feed on and lay their eggs in.
This time of year presents a good opportunity for hotel owners and kitchen managers to ensure they have the right measures in place to prevent an infestation from occurring. It is particularly important to protect food preparation and eating areas. However, do make sure that you are diligent around the entire premises, as flies can make a nuisance of themselves wherever humans are found.
Types of fly
There are roughly 7,000 types of fly species in the UK. 1 Below are three common flies that can be found in and around food establishments and hotels across the country.
1. House Fly
These are major carriers of microorganisms that can cause diseases, including Salmonella and E. coli, and are a significant problem for hotels that handle food. House flies feed by regurgitating acids onto food to break it down, and then proceed to suck up the resultant mush.
2. Bluebottle Fly
Otherwise known as a Blow Fly, Bluebottles can often be seen hovering around dustbins. They are scavengers and are particularly attracted to faeces and dead animals but are also quite happy to feed on cheese and deli meats. They feed in a similar manner to houseflies and as a result can also leave microorganisms on the food that they land on and feed off.
3. Fruit flies
This species can be a nuisance all year round but are common during summer months because of the abundance of fruits and vegetables. Fruit flies can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, and once hatched their larvae feed directly on over ripened food. These pests can reach full development within just seven days (at 15 degrees Celsius), so an infestation can take hold very quickly.
Defending your hotel against a fly infestation
There are practical measures that you can implement around the premises to ensure that flies are deterred from entering the building.
1. Cleaning regime
Flies are typically attracted to unhygienic areas and places, so your first line of defence is to ensure your hotel is clean. In your cleaning routine, make sure the schedule also covers a regular clean of walls, floors, ceilings and windows. In kitchen and eating areas it’s important that equipment is routinely wiped down inside and out, including fridges and freezers.
Food waste needs to be collected frequently, before bins start overflowing. In summer months, customers expect to enjoy their food and drink in well-ventilated areas. For this reason, many businesses keep their windows open so cool air can circulate. However, this also provides easy access for flies, so use fly screens on windows to prevent them from gaining access, while allowing cool air to flow.
2. Flying insect control
Fly control indoors is equally important for the determined few that manage to find their way in. It’s recommended that you opt for a fly control unit that encapsulates captured flies, rather than zapping them. Units that electrocute flying insects release micro-particles of the insect into the air, which can then fall onto surfaces and food.
Fly control units that transmit Ultraviolet (UV) light are useful tools in the fight to keep your business fly-free. Rentokil has an energy efficient fly control unit called Lumnia, which delivers an average of 61% in energy savings when compared to similar products, and the UV light is also transmitted 40% further than standard tubes.
There are also specific products for fruit flies, which work by attracting and trapping them in organic fermenting liquids. Traps can even be placed in areas that require regular monitoring, such as bars, kitchen units, underneath tables, and in the area around bottle banks and bins.
3. Staff training
Every business relies on teamwork, therefore training staff about the importance of good hygiene and safe food practices is important. There are online courses available (such as Rentokil’s myLearning) which can educate employees on the basic elements of pest control, including the biology of the pest, to help them to recognise signs of fly activity or other pest infestations. This can turn staff into an army of eyes and ears, helping to spot the signs of a pest problem before it escalates.
Hotel managers shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that their premises could never host a fly infestation. These pests can make anywhere their home. A proactive pest management strategy is the best approach to prevent an infestation. Waiting for signs of a problem to arise could have significant impact on your hotel. If you are dealing with a fly problem or are simply looking to prevent one, then it is important to know who to contact. If you are in any doubt as to what methods to use, then it is always best to check with the experts.