Sphaerocerid Flies

Facts, Identification & Control

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Family Sphaeroceridae

APPEARANCE

Sphaerocerid adult flies are only about 1/8 inch long, winged, and dark in color.  These flies are known by their common names – lesser dung flies or small dung flies.  The family Sphaeroceridae of North America contains more than 200 different species.

BEHAVIOR, DIET & HABIT

Sphaerocerid flies have a wide range of developmental sites and food preferences.  Some species develop in animal excrement and are pests of large, commercial chicken houses and areas that have accumulations of horse and cattle manure and feed wastes. Other species will infest almost any location where there is moist organic matter that accumulates in the cracks and gaps of kitchen floors, drains and clogged plumbing lines. Still other species infest corpses and carcasses, a behavior that makes some of these species valuable to the science of forensic entomology.  Since Sphaerocerid flies live in habitats that are populated by bacteria and other potential disease organisms, controlling these flies is very important in food service establishments and medical treatment facilities.

REPRODUCTION

Since Sphaerocerid flies more or less tend to reproduce in facilities where indoor temperatures are common, they are very likely to reproduce year-round and not overwinter when temperatures turn cold in the winter.

SIGNS OF A SPHAEROCERID INFESTATION

The presence of adult flies is the most obvious sign of an infestation since the location of immature flies is usually hard to see.

DISTRIBUTION

Different species of Sphaerocerid flies are found around the world. Within the United States, the most commonly encountered species are those that develop in commercial chicken houses and those that occupy a habitat that is similar to phorid flies and fruit flies within commercial and residential kitchens.

MORE INFORMATION

Some prevention procedures that a homeowner may use include the following:

  • Removing accumulations of wet organic matter (leaves, lawn clippings, manure, poorly maintained compost) that occurs on the property.
  • Removing or maintaining outdoor standing water sources such as bird baths, old tires, flower pots, clogged rain gutters, tree stumps and water pools around air conditioning units.
  • Thoroughly cleaning interior drain pipes, drain traps and plumbing pipes and removing food wastes under kitchen equipment and on floors in kitchens.

Sanitation is the best preventive procedure to combat Sphaerocerid fly problems, but this often is a highly demanding process. If Sphaerocerid flies become problematic, contact your pest management professional (PMP) for help. After conducting an inspection, your PMP will use the inspection findings to prepare and carry out an integrated pest management plan to control Sphaerocerid flies and their developmental sites.