Insecticides will double UK fly population

Landfill sites must stop using environmentally damaging insecticides to control flies or risk them doubling in numbers, researchers claimed this week.

Scientists at Southampton University used meteorological data from the Met Office along with research gathered at six landfill sites over the last three years to construct an accurate model.

By simulating a temperature increase of 3% on recorded figures for the period 2002-2003, they predicted that the effects of climate change in the UK would cause the fly population to rise by 97%, peaking over the summer months.

Project Leader, Dr Dave Goulson of Southampton University’s School of Biological Sciences said the new information could prove invaluable as part of an integrated pest management control programme.

“The control of fly populations on landfill sites is a major problem for operators,” Dr Goulson stated. “But the continuous use of insecticides poses a health hazard for workers as well as polluting the local environment.”

The research project was partly funded by the Onyx Environmental Trust (OET) through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme. Margaret Cobbold, OET general manager said that more options needed to be made available to landfill site operators.

“Being able to accurately predict increases in fly populations will enable landfill operators to target the use of pesticides to coincide with this increase, and therefore limit the environmental impact of harmful control techniques,” she said.

By Jane Kettle

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