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Uckfield residents 'bombarded' by flies from sewage works

Residents of an East Sussex town has been plagued with flies from a nearby sewage treatment plant.  Over 600 residents have signed a petition calling for action to be taken to control the repeated outbreak of flies. Southern Water said treatment works across the country were experiencing problems with large numbers of flies. Pesticides had proven ineffective and they were trialling the use of nets, while considering introducing natural predators like bats.
Mark Lucas said he could not use his garden due to the ‘swarms’ of flies. “You cannot have a window open, you cannot be outside when they’re bad,” he said. “God knows what bacteria they are bringing with them”. When he first moved in there, he noticed the swarms a couple of times a year but is now seeing them every day.
A petition said residents were “unable to enjoy our gardens without being bombarded” by “huge swarms of little flies”.
“They swarm around your head, they are really persistent,” resident Den Banfield said, adding: “They get in your hair, they get in your mouth.”
Professor Richard Hopkins, an entomologist at the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich, said flies from wastewater treatment works were “generally regarded as nuisance, rather than a direct human health risk”.
Researchers have uncovered the underlying genetics that make flies so good at flying
Flies have evolved excellent flying skills thanks to a set of complicated interactions between lots of different genes that influence muscle function, wing shape and nervous system development as well as the regulation of gene expression during development, according to their study.
“Fruit flies are colloquially named after their most recognizable ability: flight,” says lead author Adam Spierer, a postdoctoral researcher who earned his PhD from Brown University. “Yet until now, there wasn’t a systematic study working to uncover the genetics of flight in flies with modern genetic and computational tools.”
Spierer has conducted extensive research into ecology and the evolutionary biology – “One of the big questions in biology asks: How does genotype, or DNA, contribute to phenotype, or the traits we possess?” Spierer says. “Previously, it was thought that the summation of effects from many genes can add up to the end result. But other studies have done a good job of showing specific combinations of variants and genes can also have a large impact. Our work supports the role of both types of effects and interactions, and contributes to the broader debate within the field of quantitative genetics and complex traits.”
These flies rely on flying for vital tasks like finding food, courtship and dispersing to new areas. Despite it being incredibly important, scientists no little about the genetics underlying flight performance.