Phorid Flies, also known as Scuttle Flies or Humpbacked Flies, often show up in terrariums housing reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Usually confused with Fruit Flies, these little pests feed upon meat-based foods and organic waste and are classified in the 4,000+ member insect family Phoridae. The most commonly encountered species in US collections is Megacelia scalaris, and an outbreak can range from a mere annoyance to a serious problem. Please see Part 1 of this article for further information. Today we’ll examine some simple methods of controlling these and related flies.
The easiest way to control Phorid Flies and other vermin is to quickly remove all fecal material, dead feeder insects, and meat-based food remains. This is, of course, essential in maintaining the health of your collection as well.
Humidity and Moisture
Phorid Flies are rarely a problem around desert-dwelling pets, as they cannot tolerate arid environments. Allowing terrariums to dry out a bit, if such is safe for the inhabitants, is an effective control measure. In the case of large populations in complex terrariums that are difficult to dismantle, it may be advisable to relocate your pets for awhile, so that the enclosure can thoroughly dry-out.
Traps and Barriers
A trick I used to increase the effectiveness of fly paper is to coat it with a bit canned beef or chicken gravy. In doing this, however, you run the risk of attracting flies that were not already present in the area…so save the technique for severe infestations!
Commercial insect screening, designed to exclude tiny flies, is available. However, I’ve found that Phorid Flies are very good at circumventing physical barriers, and usually find a way in. Also, insect screening may not provide adequate ventilation for certain reptiles and amphibians.