Pet-bird-safe pest control? Somebody? Anybody? HELP!

The personell: me, my partner, and our parakeet pal Oliver. Oliver’s a budgie, perhaps the cutest and coolest and prettiest little melopsittacus undulatus on the West Coast – can you tell we really really like him?

The place: a smallish apartment in a large city in Northern California. Two rooms, bath, mini kitchen. While the place isn’t immaculate, it’s no hovel or hog pen, either – I tidy up (vac the carpet, wash dishes, and like that --the usual homely housekeeping routine) regularly. The apartment building is circa mid-1920s, with old plumbing.

The problem: we’ve been invaded by sink flies – little gnat- or midge- or fruitfly-sized buggers who don’t bite, but do hang in clouds in the middle of rooms and swarm on the walls and kitchen surfaces and get on your face and just generally be very obnoxious. These definitely aren’t fruitflies, we keep our fresh produce well wrapped or sealed up in plasticware; and it’s not an issue of uncleanliness on our part – my housekeeping is not slovenly to the point of fostering fly swarms. They seem to originate from either the bathtub or one of the sinks. When we had a bit of a problem with these same bugs several months ago, I dealt with it by hanging sticky strips from the ceiling and treating the drains with a half bottle each of liquid Drano every three days for a couple of weeks. At the time, it seemed to drastically reduce the sink fly population.

But now they’re back in droves. If it weren’t for Oliver I’d be strafing the joint with Raid, they’re so bad at this point.

Which brings me to the question I want to bring before the assembled SDMB because 1: there seem to be a lot of savvy and knowledgeable folks on here and 2: the Dope Board is the closest thing to a Brain Trust I have easily available.

What kind of bird-safe strategies are there that deal effectively with this pestilence? “Bird-safe” as in WILL NOT HARM OUR LITTLE BUDDY OLIVER, which eliminates Raid or a fog-bomb or No-Pest strip, as birds are much more sensitive to airborne toxins than the rest of us and using that kind of product could kill him. Effective as in ERADICATING THE DAMNED SINK FLIES FROM OUR RESIDENCE. Should I resume the intensive Drano-treatment? Or what? There’re way too many of them for a literal hands-on approach (as in getting a swatter) to discourage them. HELP! :eek:

I’m sorry to, errr, bug you folks with this ( :stuck_out_tongue: ), but we’re at wit’s end with these uninvited invertebrates infesting our pad. Any good advice from bug-and-bird-wise Dopers will be sincerely attempted and appreciated.

I’ve had this problem too and also assumed that they’re coming from drains. I was wrong.

I found them breeding (sometimes within a couple of days) in trash cans (especially the kitchen can with food bits), cat’s food bows (again within a day of putting it out), litter boxes.

In short, they can breed anywhere there’s a food source.

I didn’t use any pesticides in the house, I just cleaned like a madman for a week or two and they went away on their own.

Here’s a useful link:

drain flies

Permethrin is my friend when I am battling bugs and my wife isn’t looking or smelling. I even soak my clothing with it before travel to bug-infested parts of the world.

Supposedly it kills cats but you can use it around birds. So hey, a double bonus for Oliver.

I buy the 13% commercial concentrate used in barns and dilute it into a spray.
Find and treat the source and not the air.
Stinks but doesn’t stay long.
And lye in the drains to break down any food source.

I take absolutely no responsibility for anything bad, and I am sure permethrin is a horrible idea. Most likely my household all has nascent cancer or something, and it’s probably not even approved for household use or in food areas. Neither are bugs. I’m just sayin’ no namby pamby bug killers for me.

I have cockatiels and I’ve battled those nasty flies too.
Basically what **dmatsch ** said - keep dirty dishes in the dishwasher, keep food out of the sink, and any banana peels, yogurt cups, anything they attract to, toss out daily. I keep a plastic shopping bag out for that stuff, so my trash bin is for everything else. They don’t disappear immediately once you have them, but keep it up and they’ll find someplace else to go.
As for them swarming around the drains, just get a couple rubber stoppers from your local hardware store. No need to toss about Drano.

Would flypaper be an option? I know, it’s terribly old-fashioned and a cartoon cliche but it would presumably be bird-safe. Amazon has a link to one such product; the review wasn’t great but there might be some links there that might be helpful.

I had an infestation of those @#%! little flies in my apartment in California a few years ago. I had cats at the time, so was somewhat limited in what I could do to get rid of them (though probably not as limited as someone with birds). I used flypaper (which I hung over the sink where we were seeing most of the flies), washed dirty dishes in a timely manner, switched the cats from wet to dry food, took out the trash more often, and periodically sprayed the trash can with Raid (I did this outside, of course).

Assuming Oliver isn’t free-flying in the affected area, I’d use flypaper and vigorous hygiene and see if that works, before essaying chemical warfare.


I had no luck with flypaper, and it was a bitch to unravel without getting all over my hands.

The simple answer if you want to use chemicals is to put Oliver elsewhere temporarily. Surely someone is willing to bird sit for you for a couple of days? If you get really stuck, I’m just up the highway from you and have a fair amount of psittacine sitting experience without owning any myself. My email is in my profile.