Fly frenzy leaves folk flustered

H’ng (squatting, centre) observing thousands of dead flies on the floor at the Taman Sintar Indah flats in Nibong Tebal. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

SAVOURING a sip of their morning coffee or consuming their daily food has become an ordeal for the residents of flats at Taman Sintar Indah, Nibong Tebal in Penang who have been plagued by a relentless housefly infestation for more than a year.

Walking along the corridor of the flats, one will encounter a “carpet” of dead flies.

Even the residents’ attempts to dash into their cars to escape the swarm of flies proves futile as the insects are just too quick for them.

“It is as if they are taking over our homes,” said housewife G. Sivapakiam, 61.

She has even stopped taking her morning coffee as it is a nightmare to combat the houseflies.

“They get in the way and are so quick that even before I can close the milk tin, they have already made their way in. Getting them out is a nightmare and I have given up. I live in fear of falling ill as I am not young and don’t know what germs they may carry,” she added.

Even when she uses bug spray, the flies return.

Sivapakiam showing the number of flies trapped on a sheet of sticky paper.Sivapakiam showing the number of flies trapped on a sheet of sticky paper.

“I feel it is a waste because I only end up inhaling the spray fumes which is bad for our health,” she said at her unit.

Sivapakiam also uses sticky fly traps that come in sheets, which is usually full of flies, but this too has not stopped the flies from entering her house.

“Our family of four moved into this unit a year ago and the ordeal began from day one.

“We are aware that there is a livestock farm nearby and we hope it can be resolved in a good way. I feel sorry for the residents.”

Sivapakiam worries that this problem will threaten their health, stressing that they also have to spend money to buy the fly traps and bug spray.

“We want to live here in peace, but not a day goes by where I can relax. There are millions of them, too many to chase away,” she added.

Shahirah Hashim, 25, who moved there in August last year, said she used to think the problem was merely seasonal and she would use a bug spray to get rid of the flies.

“But now, the flies appear immune to the spray. This time, it is worse for us; even eating and drinking is difficult, and sometimes it feels like I have been bitten by a fly,” said Shahirah who fears she has developed entomophobia.

Shahirah said they had to keep their food covered always.

Shahirah says eating and drinking is difficult with flies invading her home.Shahirah says eating and drinking is difficult with flies invading her home.

“It is difficult as we have to be careful when we eat. The flies come as early as 7am, and even come into the toilets.

“I am afraid of what they will do to our health; the flies may be small but they carry plenty of bacteria,” she said.

Shahirah, who works as an administrative staff in Batu Kawan, said she could not even escape the flies while in her car and ended up “taking them on a drive” to her workplace.

“My family members have even stopped speaking much at home to avoid these flies from flying and landing on us.

“I live here with my mother and father who have health problems. I am afraid we could end up with food poisoning due to the bacteria carried by the flies,” she said.

Penang local government, town and country planning committee chairman H’ng Mooi Lye, who visited the flats with representatives from the Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) and the Veterinary Services Department (DVS), was shocked by the infestation problem.

H’ng, who is the Jawi assemblyman, was taken aback by the number of live and dead flies that lined the corridors.

Following residents’ complaints, he said MBSP and DVS visited nearby poultry farms and found improper waste management during peak production months which led to flies breeding.

The farms were reminded to implement stricter insecticide spraying to control the fly population, and H’ng said it was currently underway.

Last year, The Star reported about an infestation of millions of flies that tormented residents in Simpang Ampat on the mainland.

The flies, according to entomologist Assoc Prof Dr Abdul Hafiz Ab Majid, came from open-system poultry farms nearby.

Over the past decade, rapid development on the mainland in Penang has transformed small farming villages into urban centres and residential estates.

The farms, however, have been there for decades.

Although flies are scientifically proven to carry more than 400 types of germs, Dr Abdul Hafiz said “it depends on where the flies had been before they land on our food”.

“If they had landed on a rotting carcass earlier, then they will carry harmful bacteria,” he said.

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House flies , Nibong Tebal


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