Maggots are a gross, nasty fact of life. Without care, you can end up with a maggot infestation in your outdoor bins that can quickly spiral out of control.
If bin bags split, or food waste can go mouldy in a wheelie bin, it can very quickly become a breeding ground for houseflies and their larva.
What Are Maggots?
Maggots are the larvae stage of the common housefly. These flies are attracted to food waste and other types of rubbish. The houseflies lay their eggs on the rubbish in the bin and these eventually hatch into maggots.
Flies purposefully lay their eggs on things like rubbish as it gives the maggots a food source for when they hatch. These maggots then form pupae that then hatches into the common houseflies.
The entirety of this lifecycle tends to take around ten days in the warmer months, and up to a month in the winter.
Why Am I Getting Maggots?
Maggots will only exist if grown houseflies have managed to access rubbish such as food waste. Houseflies that settle on this type of rubbish may lay eggs which then hatch into maggots.
Beyond rubbish in external bins, houseflies are also attracted to dog faeces, animal carcasses and other natural, waste materials.
Are Maggots Harmful to Humans?
Maggots might be completely disgusting to a lot of people, but in some parts of the world, maggots are considered a delicacy.
Eating larvae, especially uncooked, can lead to nasty bacterial food poisoning if the maggots have encountered unsavoury material such as faeces or rotting food.
In the same way, maggots can contaminate food services leading to an increased risk of cross-contamination and food poisoning.
Maggots grow up to become houseflies which are a commonly known pest as they are annoying and can spread disease. Certain species of maggots, however, can help to save lives.
These special breeds of maggot are carefully farmed in laboratories, and can be used to feed on rotting flesh, helping to clear bacteria-infested tissue from open wounds. Since first being used, this technique has managed to save countless limbs from amputation.
If maggots are present, they can also be used as part of a criminal investigation to determine the time of death.
Prevention is always better than a cure, and that is definitely true in the case of a maggot infestation. The best way to prevent a maggot infestation is to make sure that waste is stored correctly, and that flies cannot access it.
Deal with food waste
If your home does not have a separate collection for food waste, make sure it is in a suitable bin bag, and try to prevent tears or splits whilst you are moving it.
Squeeze any air out of the bags before tying them and putting them in the outside bin as the lack of oxygen can help slow down the decomposition of food waste and development of maggots.
In the home, try to avoid leaving waste food exposed to the air or uncovered for long periods, including pet foods. Exposed food attracts flies, and without care, these flies could lay eggs before the food even goes into the bin.
Keep the lid shut
Always keep the lid of the bin closed. If flies can access the waste on the inside of the bin, you run the risk of developing maggots. Recycling waste such as paper, plastic bottles and tins will reduce the amount of waste in the bin, making it easier to keep the lid shut.
Avoid direct sunlight
Where you can, try to store the wheelie bin in a shaded area that is out of direct sunlight. Keeping the wheelie bin in a cooler area will slow down decomposition, reducing the likelihood of maggots and nasty smells.
Clean the bin with disinfectant
This one is especially important in the summer months. After the bin has been emptied on collection day, wash it out using a general disinfectant to remove any food scraps and build-ups that can attract insects.
Deal with the flies
One way to prevent maggot infestations is to deal with the flies before they can lay eggs. You can make an effective yet simple trap for flies by filling the bottom of a container with a little water, some bait and a little washing up liquid.
Fly paper works in the same way, and if you prefer a more active approach, you can invest in a fly swatter too.
A quick Google search will return a wealth of solutions that individuals believe may deter houseflies. Of course, these hacks experience varying degrees of success, but if you are after a chemical-free preventative, some of these may be worth a try.
- Place sprigs of elder, lavender, mint, or rue in the bin, in the bin lid, or hang them around the bin to keep flies away.
- Try putting mothballs in the bin underneath bin liners in kitchen bins, or in a bag that has been tied to the bin’s handle.
- Wrap up pungent waste products, like fish heads, and place them in the freezer until collection day. This prevents them from going off before the bins are emptied.
- Use a home composter to reduce the amount of fruit and vegetable waste in the wheelie bin.
Getting Rid of Maggots
If you already have a maggot infestation, there’s no need to despair! Many maggots will be disposed of when the bins are emptied, but if any remain, there are some easy steps that you can take to get rid of the problem before it gets any worse.
In the case of more serious infestations, it may be worth using chemicals such as bleach or other disinfectants if you have them to hand.
Rinse around the inside of the wheelie bin with the chemicals, and leave them to set for a few minutes just to let it start to work. Rinse the bin out with plenty of water and leave to fully dry before putting any waste in.
You don’t need to use harsh chemicals to deal with maggots. You can achieve the same effect by using lime or lemon juice or sprinkling a large amount of salt over both the maggots and their food source.
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