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ASK THE EXPERT


BY JIM FREDERICKS


be concerned about it?


United States, the pavement ant is one of the most common nuisance ant species in the Northeast and Midwest. Winged reproductive ants are often seen during their mating flights in the spring and are sometimes confused with termites by consumers. Pavement ants often nest under slabs, patios or landscaping features. Pavement ant stingers are so small that they generally cannot penetrate human skin and are not considered a threat to human health, so your customers don’t need to worry about getting stung by these pests.


Q A


It’s true, pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) have a stinger, but they rarely use it. Found throughout most of the


I’ve read that pavement ants have a stinger, but I’ve never been stung by one. Can they sting and should my customer’s


I have a ground floor apartment unit that has an infestation of small flies, they seemed to be concentrated around the diaper pail, but even after the customer removed it, the problem persisted. The flies look similar to fruit flies, but they don’t have red eyes. What can I do to control this pest?


names for flies in the family Phoridae. These flies are sometimes confused with fruit flies because of their size and coloration, but there are a few simple identifying characteristics that can be easily recognized in the field to help you determine the difference. First, eye color can be tricky. Most people commonly associate red eyes with fruit flies, also called vinegar or pomace flies (family Drosophilidae), but not all fruit flies have red eyes, so using eye color is not as helpful as many people think. There are two easier ways to determine the difference. One approach is to observe the general shape of the insect. Phorid flies have a more humpbacked look, hence their other common name. Next, take a look at the fly’s rear legs. The section of the leg closest to the thorax is called the femur (analogous to the large leg bone connecting the hip to the knee in humans). Phorid flies have an expanded and flattened femur. As for the infestation that you are observing in


Q A


Pavement Ants (Tetramorium caespitum)


the apartment unit, it makes sense that the flies were hovering around the diaper pail. Phorid fly larvae live in and eat decaying organic matter and are often associated with contaminated soil adjacent to broken sewer lines. A diaper pail full of soiled diapers will probably provide a suitable secondary food source, but the chances are the problem is more complicated than that. Have building maintenance contact a plumber that is capable of identifying cracks or breaks in sewage pipes running beneath the slab. Often, phorid flies will breed in the contaminated soil and find their way into the living space through cracks, expansion joints or bath trap openings in the slab. If a broken pipe is found it, should be repaired and the contaminated soil should be removed and backfilled before replacing the slab.


24 PESTWORLD MARCH/APRIL 2011 www.npmapestworld.org


The fly you are encountering is probably a phorid fly, also known as a scuttle, or humpbacked fly; both are common


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