Garbage in freshman quad attracts unwelcome guests: Musca domestica

At noon five days a week, the two high-school quads are filled with famished bodies and loud conversation.

In the freshman quad close to the gym, however, unwanted guests invade  as soon as the first lunch is opened.

Flies. Scientifically called Musca domestica, the quarter-inch menaces attack freshmen and their lunches. While some students like freshman Diego Perochena don’t notice the flies, others like freshman Leslie Young do.

“The flies in the freshman quad are disgusting. It’s repulsive when you’re eating,” Young said.

“I was drinking milk and when I looked down, there was a fly in it. It was so gross,” freshman Elinor Hilton said.

They’re right to be disgusted. Flies carry a myriad of different diseases, depending on what is attached to their legs and small hairs, said Jerry Spears of Ambush Pest Control.

Typhoid, cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis and eggs of parasitic worms all travel on the legs and hairs of flies.

But why are there so many flies?

Last year’s freshmen didn’t have the same problem, sophomore Anna Wiley said. Hilton thinks it’s because of the five trash cans in the quad, but biology teacher Kellie Whited disagrees.

“My best guess is that the freshman quad is just too dirty. It’s filthy in there,” she said.

Junior Sydney Jackson agrees.

“I think being right near the locker rooms and having all that junk on the tables is what draws the flies,” she said. Jackson noted the other quad doesn’t have the same problem.

Spears said flies are drawn to rotting food and organic matter, the former being especially common in the freshman quad. He suggested getting rid of rotting matter and shifting  lunch tables to a location that isn’t damp, as well as getting rid of anything that holds moisture.

Maintenance man Matt Liedtke believes the flies are attracted to spilled soda dried onto the trash cans. He said the cans are power washed only once a year in the summer and suggested they could be washed more often.

But Jay Holman, head of maintenance, said the staff doesn’t have time for additional washing during the school year.

Of course, as the weather turns colder, the flies will disappear.

But unless something changes, they’ll be back in the spring.

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