It is a problem that can certainly bug some visitors to the Missouri State Fair, but thanks to the generosity of a local industry, it’s one that hopefully will take flight and leave Sedalia for the next two weeks.
Flies used to be everywhere during the 10-day run of the Fair but Pittsburgh Corning seems to have found a solution to control the fly population that both people and livestock appreciate.
“We always noticed that during the Fair the number of flies at the plant always seemed to be more than other times throughout the year,” said Jeff Brandt, an engineering supervisor at Pittsburgh Corning. “It just seemed like we were inundated with them.
“A few years ago I was talking to a friend of mine, Greg Haverly, who also works at the plant, and he started telling me about this product that he used at his property that worked really well to get rid of the flies at his place,” he added. “After he mentioned it we started to look into it and explore it more and that’s when we decided this may work on a much larger scale at the Fair.”
According to Spaulding Laboratories, the suppliers of the product, Fly Predators are “beneficial bugs that control flies naturally.”
“The goal of the product is to get into where the flies are,” Brandt said. “The bugs we release get into the fly’s cocoon and eat the fly larvae, destroying them before they can hatch.
“We know it must be working because we see fewer flies at the plant both during and after the Fair,” he added. “We also have had our exterminator at the plant tell us that he has found evidence of fewer flies since we began doing this not just at Pittsburg Corning but at other locations that he treats as well.”
Monday morning, Brandt, along with three fellow co-workers, Nicole Opela, Mike Hilburn and Robert Parker, helped to release 1 million of the predators.
Employees of the company will return next Monday to release another million insects after the opening weekend of the Fair.
The predators do not require sprays or chemicals, making them safe for the environment.
“Unless you know we are doing this you would never be able to tell the predator bugs were even here,” Brandt said. “They are so small that they don’t bother people or the livestock or other animals.
“The insects that are released come from Nevada and I don’t think they winter well so that’s one of the reasons we do this every year,” he added. “This is our third year of doing this and it really is a benefit to the community.”
For Parker, who is a machinist at the plant and serves as the treasurer of the United Steelworkers Union Local 1004, giving back to the community is one of the benefits Pittsburgh Corning provides its employees.
“Last year human resources did this but they wanted to get the Union involved so they asked if Mike and I would like to help,” Parker said. “I like getting out and helping and this certainly is an interesting process so I was more than happy to do it.”
Parker said he was part of a group of employees who also volunteer each year at the Red Shoe Ride for the Ronald McDonald House in Columbia and participated in the first the United Way Day of Caring in 2015. Additionally the employees have volunteered at Open Door, for Cancer Perks and the Bothwell Foundation Lub Dub 5K.
“I volunteered to do this one,” Parker said. “It’s a good way to help both the company and everyone who comes to the Fair.”
Wendy Faulconer, executive director of the Missouri State Fair Foundation, expressed her gratitude to Pittsburgh Corning for its dedication and commitment in finding a solution to the fly problem.
“Pittsburgh Corning is a member of the Foundation,” Faulconer said. “We truly appreciate the partnership that we have with them and their efforts. It is something that does benefit them but it helps everyone who works and attends the Fair as well as the surrounding communities.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.