Experts suggest some possible ways of dealing with the tiny flies swarming Shortsville.

To hear Richard Beyea tell it, the bug situation in Shortsville is more than a swarming nuisance.

It’s not unlike the Alfred Hitchcock 1963 horror film “The Birds,” in which birds overrun a community — only in this case it’s little flies.

“They’re everywhere, clouds of them,” said Beyea, who lives on West Main Street in Shortsville. “You can’t eat cereal, you can’t drink. I inhale them, I swallow them. It’s unbelievable.” Asked how they taste, he says, “not good.”

It’s likely the pests are either fruit flies or humpback flies (also called Phorid or drain flies), according to Russ Welser, an educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, but they would have to be examined by an expert to know for sure.

Both kinds of tiny flies behave similarly in that they are attracted to decaying plant matter of any kind. They aren’t picky eaters — they like cabbage, pumpkins, grapes, apples, corn or any other fruit or vegetable that is rotting.

That’s why many residents have long complained about cabbage silage culled from a local operation, Great Lakes Kraut Co. For years, the silage has been spread by farmers on fields in the town of Manchester. Last week, that practice stopped and from now on, the cabbage by-products are being trucked 10 or more miles away to feed cows.

Beyea doesn’t think that will be the end of the infestation.

“Even if it’s put on fields 10 miles away, they’re not going to hold to one area,” he said.
But Welser said cabbage is just one of many food sources.

“It’s not just cabbage,” he said. “If there are flies in Canandaigua and other places, are you going to say they’re caused by cabbage (near) Shortsville?”

They can be found in lots of areas and it’s not always clear why — probably it’s a combination of weather-related factors and proximity to a food source.

How do you get rid of them?

Pat Flood, general manager of Ehrlich Pest Control in Shortsville, said fumigating the house might work, but it’s an expensive remedy that’s also overkill.

He said his customers from Buffalo, Rochester and throughout the Finger Lakes complain about the fruit-fly problem and he recommends setting out jar of vinegar. Since it’s made from a fermentation process, the bugs are attracted to it and they drown.

But Welser has another idea.

His solution is to take a jar and put a chunk of banana in it. Then take a funnel and turn it upside down in the jar (so the spout is inside), then tape the funnel to the jar rim securely. The flies smell the banana, go through the funnel to get to it and become trapped inside.

Welser said they are also attracted to standard yellow flypaper. Over-the-counter bug sprays will kill flies it comes in contact with, but that method is a short-lived solution and requires cleaning up the poison afterward, Welser said.

Beyea relentlessly attempts to de-bug his house, but the bugs seem to be winning. He went to Herendeen Bros. Hardware store to buy some insecticide fog bombs, only to be told the sauerkraut company was infested with fruit flies and bought every last one of them, Beyea said.

His somewhat effective remedy?

“We got wine in a wine glass and put clear Saran Wrap over it and put itty-bitty holes in it,” Beyea said. “You should see the glass. It’s full of flies.”

Contact Daily Messenger writer Billie Owens at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 320, or at bowens@mpnewspapers.com.