Houseflies (Musca domestica) are one species of fly in the insect order Diptera, which includes mosquitoes. They are also known as “nuisance” flies or "filth" flies, and they are always unwelcome in people's homes. They are bothersome, and they spread bacteria.
Houseflies can be found just about everywhere people live. They feed on and breed in animal feces, garbage, and in other rotting, organic material. They also land on and walk all over your food and food preparation surfaces, and they get into your sugary drinks.
To make matters worse, when Houseflies feed, they regurgitate their stomach contents onto your food to get it liquefied and softened up before they ingest it. They also contaminate food and surfaces by defecating directly on them. Gross.
There are many easy ways to prevent Housefly infestations and to get rid of them when they happen.
The Diptera insect order comprises the “true flies,” and it is one of the largest groups of insects. Diptera species are distinguished with their one set of two wings, versus other flying insects that sport two pair of wings.
We can categorize filth flies into two groups, based on their appearances and food preferences. Flies like the Housefly, Blow fly, and Flesh fly, are relatively small, with notably large eyes. Other flies, like Drain flies, Fruit flies, and Phorid flies, have smaller bodies.
Large Filth Flies:
Adult large filth flies (Houseflies, Blow flies, Flesh flies) are known for their stout bodies and short legs. Their larvae are maggots, and for food they primarily prefer garbage, feces, and other rotting organic material, like dead animal remains.
Small Filth Flies:
Adult small filth flies are known for their smaller, slender bodies, and longer legs, and their larvae are also maggots, or worm-like. They primarily feed on scum, sludge, and organic debris found in drains, and on rotting plant material.
- Common Housefly - Feeds on/breeds in: discarded food, garbage, compost piles, animal feces.
- Lesser Housefly - Also known as the "Little Housefly." They create similar problems as the common Housefly, but are about two-thirds the size.
- Blow fly - Feeds on/breeds in: Damp garbage, animal carcasses, meat scraps
- Cluster fly - Lays eggs in damp soil, earthworm burrows.
- Fruit fly - Feeds on/breeds in: Decomposing organic fruits and other organic materials, vegetables, damp rags, wine and beer remnants in containers, pet food, leaks.
- Drain fly - Feeds on/breeds in: Drain scum, decomposing organic materials found in sink traps, sewers, etc.
- Horse fly - Breeds in: wet soil close to bodies of water. Horse flies are typically found in woodlands or forests. They are most evident on windless, hot, sunny days.
What Attracts Houseflies Into Your Home?
All flies are attracted to moist, rotting organic material where they can lay their eggs. This attraction, unfortunately, brings them in contact with humans and our pets.
Spoiled and discarded food, garbage, pet feces, etc., are all very appealing to Houseflies (and other flies and indoor pests).
Flies are also attracted to bright artificial lights.
Why Are There So Many Flies?
Many factors contribute to large infestations of flies including their habits and your home’s environment. Check out why there could be so many flies in your house.
- Quick Breeding: Flies can lay eggs up to six times in their life and they lay more than 100 eggs each time. When multiple flies produce eggs, large infestations can occur.
- Quick Life Cycle: These pests can also develop from an egg to an adult in 7-10 days. This means numerous flies can pop up at the same time. If the cycle isn’t interrupted, this process will continue and more and more flies will arrive.
- Food Sources: Flies aren’t picky when it comes to food, which means they can find plenty of things to eat in your home. Having access to a steady food source means they’ll be able to fly around and reproduce.
- Warm Temperatures: In general, it’s usually fairly warm in your house. This is great for flies. Warm temperatures allow flies to develop faster. It also keeps their body temperatures regulated, letting them stay active.
Are Houseflies Harmful?
For the most part, Houseflies are just a nuisance. But their habits make them carriers and transmitters of all kinds of bacteria, especially those flies that bite.
Also, who wants to eat a sandwich that a fly has landed on, vomited on, and pooped on?
Helping Get Rid of Houseflies Indoors
There are things you can do indoors to help prevent flies from having things to feed on and from having places to lay eggs. Keeping things clean will also help reduce ant and roach populations.
- Keep your kitchen clean and wiped down.
- Keep food stored in airtight containers.
- Never leave a sink full of dirty dishes or drinks out.
- Get rid of grass clippings and leaf debris in your yard as soon as possible, because when it decays it will attract flies and other pests.
- Keep outdoor lights off at night whenever possible.
- Be aware that if you are trying to eliminate rodents in your home, that their carcasses will attract flies.
- Keep your litter box and yard free of pet feces as much as possible.
Exclusion to Get Rid of Flies Indoors
You may have first noticed a fly problem inside your house. If you are seeing adult flies inside your home, it's more likely than not that they got indoors from outside. If you are concerned about flies indoors, measures to help prevent their access into your home are your next line of defense:
- Ensure that door and window screens are in good repair.
- Caulk all cracks, crevices, holes, etc. around windows and doors where flies might get in.
Get Rid of House Flies Naturally With Herbs and Flowers
There are some plants that can help repel Houseflies away from your kitchen and living areas. Planting herbs and flowers in your garden and in indoor planters in your kitchen can help keep flies away. These herbs and flowers include:
- Bay Leaves
Getting Rid of Flies Outdoors Will Help Get Rid of Them Indoors
The first step in outdoor fly control mission is to thoroughly check your property to determine where flies are breeding and living, and then to determine how they are getting inside your house. If you have a presence of flies in your patio or yard, something is attracting them, whether it's pet feces or garbage.
- Observe where flies are landing or resting, and verify what is attracting them.
- Identify the species of fly you're dealing with. Are they Houseflies, Blow flies, Cluster flies, or another type of fly? Where are they breeding? This will help determine what type of management tactics will be necessary.
- Though spot-treating and killing adult flies will reduce immediate, visible fly activity, you won't gain full control of the problem until you can find and eliminate the source. If you are seeing an abundance of flies, there is likely a breeding site either on your property or a nearby one. If need be, you can most likely contact your municipal or state health department for assistance.
How Do I Get Rid of Flies Outdoors?
Sanitation to Get Rid of Flies
So, you know where the flies are coming from and what they are attracted to. Now you can begin controlling them.
To reduce what flies are attracted to and areas where they breed:
- Clean up any and all sites with fly activity (lingering and breeding), and any attractants (food, animal feces, etc.). Houseflies can complete their full life cycles within a week, so wet garbage, manure, and other organic materials need to be cleaned and/or removed regularly (at least twice a week) to help disrupt their breeding.
- Keep dumpster areas and trash receptacles as clean as possible, and keep all trash as far away from your home as possible. Use tight-fitting lids and If you use plastic bags, make sure they are well sealed.
- Scoop up pet feces regularly, and get rid of dead or decaying plants. Avoid leaving uneaten pet food around, and keep food and water spills wiped up.
- As much as possible, reduce areas of pooling water, still water, and other leaks around the yard. This will help you reduce mosquito populations, as well. Keep compost piles as far away from your home as possible.
By consistently implementing the above sanitation practices to help with fly reduction, you can help keep fly activity populations (as well as other pest problems) way down. Monitor your outdoor area again in 1 to 3 months. You may also need to use some other methods.
Mechanical Methods to Get Rid of Flies
Like spot-treating, fly traps can have some temporary, limited effect on reducing fly populations outdoors. If you are cooking and/or eating outdoors, traps may help mitigate any fly problems. Ideally, you would set traps around the perimeter of an area to help prevent flies from coming near you, your family, and your guests. Consider the following:
- Inverted cone traps packed with fly attractants. As long as the areas surrounding trap placements are kept clean, these traps are easy to use and effective. Fly attractants have an unpleasant smell, so keep them as far away as possible.
- Fly paper can be placed on the inside of trash receptacles and their lids to trap flies that might get into trash.
- UV light traps are somewhat effective and can be strategically placed (especially near pet areas) to help attract and kill flies.
- Citronella oil and candles - Burning a citronella candle or citronella sticks not only repels flies, but also mosquitoes. You can also purchase pre-mixtures of citronella oil to apply directly to your skin as a fly and mosquito repellent. You don't need to apply citronella more often than personal insect repellents.
What is the Best Indoor Fly Killer?
Pest Control Products
Pest control products would ideally not be used until all other methods have been implemented and you're still seeing a fly problem.
Try an effective plant oil-based indoor fly killer for spot-treatment, like Maggie's Farm Home Bug Spray, or Maggie's Farm Flying Insect Killer. Plants don't like flies and other bugs any more than you do, and the natural oils they produce to protect themselves are amazingly effective at killing and repelling bugs of all sorts. For effective personal protection against flies (and mosquitoes), try plant oil-based Maggie's Farm Natural Insect Repellent.
For longer term, more thorough coverage, you can treat wider areas of your lawn with effective hose-end plant oil-based pest control products like Maggie's Farm Yard Bug Spray.
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How do you control flies in your home? We want to hear your tips and tricks! Leave us a comment below!
For scientifically-tested, effective fly control in your home that is friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective.