Vinegar could be key to Montana fly control

by Judy Killen – originally published in the Yellowstone County News.

HUNTLEY – They say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but these aren’t your usual flies. In fact, the staff at the Yellowstone County Extension Service office at the courthouse in Billings is still trying to determine exactly what type of flies they are. Are they fruit flies? Vinegar flies? Steve Lackman, an agricultural agent for the extension service, said they gathered up a sample of the annoying insects and sent them to the Montana State University lab in Bozeman, hoping for a species confirmation. But the entomologist in Bozeman wasn’t sure what type of flies were in the sample and sent them on to Idaho for further analysis, Lackman said. A positive identification will help extension agents advise people what to do to control them, he said. And people are calling from all over Yellowstone County and other places across Montana.

Lackman said the Bozeman office heard from the extension agent in Hardin that the bugs are there. The Forsyth paper, The Independent Press, ran a front page story about the insect infestation last week and local television news is all over the topic. “They’re widespread, yet they’re spotty,” Lackman said. For now, you can trap more flies with vinegar and a little dish soap in a homemade trap: pour apple cider vinegar in a container, add a couple of drops of dish soap. Lackman said you could try using a funnel on top or cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or just leave it open.

The flies are likely attracted to compost, fruit, manure piles, any “material that is decomposing,” Lackman said. Emptying the trash regularly goes a long ways toward keeping the pesky insects at bay.

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