DEAR JOAN: I live in Rossmoor in a ground-level unit. Last week, I noticed a few more houseflies than normal inside my apartment, which I didn't think anything of at the time. I do open the windows often but I have screens on all of them and they are in good condition, relatively new and no holes or gaps that I can see.
Recently I noticed almost a dozen houseflies that, for the most part, were concentrated on the sliding glass door in the living room. I quickly got rid of them either by shooing them out the door or swatting them. I thought it was unusual but I thought I had taken care of the problem.
When I got home from work that night, to my shock there were at least two to three dozen flies on the living room ceiling. They were not flying about and, in fact, were motionless. So, like a maniac, I began swatting the heck out of them.
The next morning there were more flies, mostly concentrated on the sliding glass door.
These flies have a shiny golden hue to them.
I have absolutely no idea where these flies are coming from. I know that flies need to lay eggs in some sort of organic material, the eggs develop into maggots and maggots into flies. As far as I know I do not have any open organic material lying around the house. If there were a dead animal inside the house I am sure I would smell it.
The only thing I would add to this is for the past month or so maintenance workers have been working on the outside of the building, removing wood siding, tearing down wooden patio enclosures and clearing dry rot from many of the siding panels. There are big gashes in some of the siding that they are going to replace. There is also an open vent vent. I don't know if this is a contributing factor to my fly infestation. I also checked with my neighbor upstairs but she is not having any issue with flies.
Can you offer any advice or assistance? I fear I may have to have my apartment fumigated. What do you think?
DEAR DAVID: The construction and open areas may be the key to your fly problem.
I sent your letter to my favorite bug guy, Steve Schutz, scientific programs manager with the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District, and he says the flies you describe sound like blowflies, also known as carrion flies.
While harmless, they are a sign that you have a dead rat, mouse or other creature in your crawl space or in the wall. With the construction, the animal may have gotten inside and died.
The flies clustered around the door are the adult, looking to get out -- they are naturally attracted to the light.
Steve says if you can find and remove the dead creature, you'll get rid of your fly problem. Otherwise, you're in for a fly invasion until the poor critter has dried up or been consumed.
DEAR JOAN: Is there any way of keeping bees away from my hummingbird feeder without harming the hummingbirds?
DEAR SYL: Try taking the feeder down for a day or so, then putting it up in a new location. If your feeder tends to drip or leak, you may need to buy a new one. I'd recommend one that doesn't have any yellow on it, and a saucer type feeder that isn't prone to leaking.