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Rain turns fertilizer into fly spawning ground

Special to SEGAZINE

Hoboken experienced a population boom in the last week in the hundreds of thousands, but the new residents are anything but human.

Hoboken City Clerk Linda Henderson said that last week’s explosion of flies is likely the worst the city has seen in at least 30 years.

The exact cause isn’t clear but officials with the city have surmised that the recent laying of chicken manure on the many fields in and around the city along with manure stored at local chicken houses could be the culprit.

The new manure coupled with heavy rains has created a breeding ground for what is essentially  the common housefly.

While they don’t bite, they have caused a nuisance for area residents in their daily lives.

“I live in Hoboken, and of course there have always been flies in the spring and summer but not like this,” Gloria Trull said. “They have never been one tenth as bad as they are now.”

Others have said that even going to the store has become a battle just to get through the bugs.

“They will carry you through the doors in Hoboken,” Kristina Walker said.

But the problem isn’t limited to the city with communities as far away as Hickox and Schlatterville also complaining of flies.

Cool weather has served as somewhat of a break from the flies residents have said, but evenings still bring the bugs in by the hundreds.

And that’s not too surprising based on extension service documents that put the average range of fly dispersal from one half to two miles but maximums of up to 20 miles from where they were born.

Documentation also shows that the flies can carry up to 100 human and animal disease-causing organisms.

As for the numbers, wet poultry manure is considered an ideal breeding ground for house and garbage flies with some being able to lay between six batches of 75 to 200 eggs at three to four day intervals.

These flies usually live for three to four weeks but can live longer under the right circumstances.

In the meantime, residents in the area are finding their own solutions.

Some, such as Mary Griffin of Mount Calvary Road are taking the flies on head-on with a fly swatter while others have resorted to fly paper. However, as Staci Tindall said in a social media response, the solution is temporary since the immense number of flies has caused the sticky fly tape to fill up quickly.

Others have been finding that homemade traps and store-bought items are doing the trick.

Trent Jacobs said that Rescue Brand Big Bag Fly Traps available at area hardware stores have worked well to keep the flies out.

Others said that Skin So Soft lotion, garlic items such as powder or pills and even planting basil all have some effect on reducing the numbers.

Though worse than years past, the flies are something many have come to expect in the heavily agriculture area though some have expressed concern over the use of chicken manure after this year’s swarm.

But farmers and those familiar with the process have said that the alternative to chicken manure – non-organic fertilizers – could actually be more unhealthy than the flies the current product attracts.

Meanwhile some area chicken houses have made changes to help alleviate the fly problem.

The Humpty Dumpty plant outside of Hoboken, for example, has worked to increase ventilation and changed how they handle chicken manure in an effort to reduce the flies, United Egg Marketing general manager Dennis Hughes told the Enterprise in an interview last year.

New chicken houses are also being constructed with the fly issue in mind, he said, though admitting that some flies are unavoidable.

The flies have come and gone in recent days with many complaining of flies on some days and others, such as Hoboken Elementary School’s Field Day experiencing few of them.

But until they are gone for good, residents are doing what they can to cope.

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