Drain Flies in My Restaurant!
Drain flies, with their moth-like appearance, may not inspire immediate concern in a commercial kitchen like roaches or rats, but do not ignore their presence. As a restaurant, hotel, food truck, or other kitchen run for commercial purposes, the general public is relying upon your vigilance to remain healthy. As you know from your training and experience in your kitchen, you have a high duty to the public to ensure good safety practices and cleanliness.
Drain flies, sometimes called a moth fly, are small flies that are hairy or fuzzy like a moth. These nuisance flies are usually found resting on walls or ceilings, but their mere presence indicates a breeding site is nearby. Drain fly breeding sites are problematic in your commercial kitchen because it shows there is an accumulation of feces or other gelatinous waste in sewer pipes, or worse, somewhere else in your kitchen.
Drain flies lay their eggs in the slime and gunk that accumulates in drains and other wet areas. Anywhere that holds water can be the drain fly breeding ground. Moist, slimy, decaying organic matter and gelatinous film that forms over the water, is ideal for drain flies to lay their eggs. Sink and floor drains in restaurants are the most common source of the drain fly larvae, but do not overlook drain pans under the refrigerator, around or inside of garbage containers, wet sewers or leaky toilets, condensate lines for ice makers, and even under a leaking washing machine. Drain flies have been known to propagate in water and organic matter that accumulates under a broken or loose tile. Besides gelatinous food waste, sewage is also a common source. Sewage is actually the number one breeding site for drain flies. Every building has a sewer system and sometimes sludge builds up from normal use. If there are issues such as poorly sloped drain pipes under the slab, leaking pipes, broken pipes, bad wax rings, etc. then problems can get much worse.
Drain Flies and Kitchen Health and Safety
Drain flies do not bite humans, and are not known to directly spread diseases, however, by their very sewage loving nature they can spread E.coli bacteria (fecal bacteria) that commonly causes food related illness. One study tested 90 soda dispensers at fast food restaurants in Virginia and 48% of the dispensers tested positive for E.coli bacteria. Flies such as drain flies were the suspected source. In addition, a knowledgeable health inspector will know to give you an extra thorough inspection if they notice a drain fly on the wall. Because accumulations of food bits, grease, and grime are required for their presence, it may indicate other issues are present in your commercial kitchen.
As a restaurant or other commercial kitchen, you must take every precaution to prevent pests from becoming established. Proactive procedures should be followed to regularly clean drains, pipes, underneath and behind appliances and food prep areas. Allowing these areas of moist organic matter to fester, not only breeds drain flies, but more insidious insect pests as well.
How to Get Rid of Drain Flies
Despite your best and most efficient efforts to keep your commercial kitchen spick-and-span, drain flies can overrun even the tidiest of kitchens. The most important factor in getting rid of drain flies is determining where they are breeding. Drain flies are poor fliers; the adults usually remain close to the area in which they hatched, grew as larvae, and pupated. However, in a commercial kitchen with many sinks, floor drains, disposals, garbage cans, there are many potential breeding locations. Your drain fly infestation could be emanating from one drain or multiple locations. If you are unsure where the drain flies are breeding, test various drains by inverting plastic cups lined with a light coating of spray adhesive. If the drain is actively infested, after a few days you should capture adults as they emerge from the drain. By isolating the areas of activity, your control efforts will be more efficient.
The only way to get rid of drain flies is to disrupt and eliminate the drain fly nursery. Drain fly larvae are pretty hardy considering their tiny worm-like appearance. Ineffective attempts at control include pouring boing water, ammonia, bleach, or baking soda and vinegar down the drain. Remarkably, drain fly larvae can survive all of these attacks. Drain fly larvae have the unique ability to trap air bubbles and remain submerged for about 24 hours. In your attempts to remove the drain fly scourge, do NOT pour insecticides down the drain. It is likely illegal, and it will NOT kill the drain fly larvae.
To truly halt the drain fly life cycle, you have to actually get into the drain and clean it. This not only physically removes the immature drain flies, but also removes the food source for any future drain fly. Once the drain is free of the gelatinous rotting matter, the larvae will not succeed. To adequately clean the drain, there are several options. Each work in different situations. First, physically scrubbing the pipes can be performed using plumbing tools. Regular steam cleaning with large truck mounted steam cleaners also work well for regular drain maintenance. Biological drain treatment products that “eat” the gelatinous food source of flies is also a great option for maintaining clean drains.
Professional Drain Fly Control for Your Restaurant
Drain fly control should be a part of any pest control program initiated in your restaurant. Once the drain is thoroughly clean, your pest management professional can place probiotic-bacterial drain treatment in the areas that tend to accumulate gunk. These products are not pesticides, rather a live bacteria that consumes organic matter that it comes into contact with. Regular application of this product keeps clean drains and sinks from accumulating enough organic matter to support a drain fly colony. However, simply pouring this product down the sink does not allow the bacteria sufficient time to do its job. Your Pest Management Professional has specialized equipment which converts the product to a foam allowing it to cling to the sides and crevices of the treated area.
By taking active steps to treat and prevent drain flies, many other insects will also find your commercial kitchen less hospitable… which is of course the whole point! Call Nextgen Pest Solutions today to schedule a pest control inspection of your commercial kitchen. Our experienced professionals can develop a custom protocol to address insects (including drain flies), rodents, mosquitoes, and anything else that may pester your customers and needlessly appear on your health inspection.