Houseflies can be a nuisance in any home, no matter how clean. About 90% of all flies that are found in and around a residential dwelling are houseflies. Not only are they a nuisance, but they also can carry a lot of bacteria that can potentially make you and your family sick. So, how do you get rid of houseflies?
Houseflies are about ¼ inch long and grayish-black in color, with one set of wings, and two large, bulbous eyes. They are readily found just about everywhere people live.
Do you try to get rid of houseflies at home, particularly in your kitchen, with the help of a flyswatter? That will be an effective (and somewhat satisfying) strategy in the short term, but realistically, you probably can't kill every single fly by hand. But there are many natural and easy ways to help get rid of houseflies at home and to prevent houseflies from hanging around.
Some Facts About Houseflies
- There are about 100,000 different known fly species on the planet, of which common houseflies (Musca domestica) are one.
- Houseflies typically live outdoors but may come inside when lighting or a food source attracts them.
- Houseflies survive on a liquid diet because they do not have the mouth-parts to chew food. They regurgitate digestive juice onto food they land on, then stomp it in with their feet and suck up the liquid.
- Houseflies can actually taste food with their feet.
- Houseflies defecate a lot. It is speculated that they defecate every time they land, no matter what they land on.
- Flies regularly come in contact with a range of harmful bacteria and can contaminate anything they land on, including food and cooking utensils.
- Houseflies have compound eyes that allow them a 360-degree view all around them.
What Attracts Houseflies?
Houseflies are attracted to any kind of food, drink, or other organic materials. Houseflies are known to lay their eggs on feces, garbage, and any other warm, moist organic material (typically rotting material) that will supply nourishment for their eggs and larvae. Unfortunately for you and your family, they will also readily land on your food or drink, bringing all the bacteria they've gathered along with them.
As with other insect pests in your home, doing what you can to remove the conditions in your home that make it appealing to your unwelcome guests will be your first step. You'll see that as you remove the conditions in your home that are appealing to house flies, you'll see their populations (and the populations of other pests) diminish.
How Long do Houseflies Live?
You might have been told that houseflies only live between one to three days, but other than in the case of Mayflies, this is incorrect. Houseflies can live for days, and some, maybe even up to two months, depending on conditions (warmth, availability of food sources, etc.). The average lifespan of an adult male housefly is about 28 days, while a female's average lifespan is between 15 and 30 days.
How Fast do Houseflies Reproduce?
Houseflies are known to be prolific breeders. Female houseflies may lay a total of five to six batches of 75 to 150 eggs at a time during their lifetimes. In warmer weather, eggs can hatch in only 12 to 24 hours, but no matter how warm it is, that's still a lot of new flies!
Flies go through a full metamorphosis: Egg to larva, to pupa, to adulthood.
Female houseflies find a viable spot to lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch, the tiny creatures emerge as squirmy white maggots that feast on any rotting food, flesh, or other organic material around them as they continue to grow. Maggots typically remain in this developmental stage from between a few hours to a couple of days.
Then comes the pupal stage, which typically goes on in a secluded, dark place. Housefly pupae appear larger than maggots, and they begin to develop wings, legs, and to take shape as adult houseflies. They usually start to take on a different color, ranging between yellow, red, brown, to black.
Finally, the pupa turns into an adult housefly. At this point, they can fly off out into the light and open air, start to feed, and eventually start breeding new flies on their own.
How to Get Rid of Houseflies Naturally
Eliminate Their Food Sources. If you consider your house the way a housefly would see it, it will help you be more aware of what steps you need to implement. Are there dirty dishes in the sink? Compost bins nearby, or half-consumed bowls of pet food? Trash cans without sealed lids with refuse exposed for flies to drop by and land on? Houseflies will quickly congregate around these opportunities. Get into the habit of getting rid of these sources their food regularly (once, even twice weekly isn't too often). Trash day is a perfect time every week to round up all the randomly located sources of housefly food.
Scoop up After Pets. Part of eliminating food sources for houseflies involves regularly cleaning up after pets at home, as a female housefly's favorite spot to lay eggs is in feces.
Think of your yard as one source of houseflies. Since these fly eggs can hatch in as few as 24 hours (especially in the hot summer weather), every pile of dog feces lying around in your backyard any given day could possibly represent hundreds of more flies over the course of the few days following. A cat box left unattended for too long might mean hundreds more flies in your home.
Clean up after your pets (indoors and outdoors) every day.
How Are Flies Getting Into Your Home? Houseflies can easily get into your home through open windows and doors, but one at a time, not in swarms. If you have a lot of flies in your home, the first thing to do is figure out how they're getting in. Do you have any torn screens? If so repair or replace them. Carefully inspect the weather stripping around your outer doors as well, and adjust or replace as needed. Is the caulking around all windows and outer doors intact? You may need to re-caulk them.
Fly Repellent Spray. For spot treating flies and other flying and crawling insects, try an effective botanical home bug spray or flying insect killer. You can at least get rid of nearby houseflies you can see.
Fly Traps and Fly Paper. Though fly traps and fly paper do not address the true source of your housefly woes, they can help a bit. Fly traps can help you lure flies away from an area you might be eating with guests, like your patio or back yard. Also, both fly traps and fly paper help reduce the fly population in your home a bit, the same way spot treating would.
Pennies and Water. To temporarily keep houseflies away from an outdoor area, fill a glass or plastic bag with water and place a few pennies in the bottom. The reflected light from the pennies in the water confuses the house flies and sends them away from the area. Place on tables and food serving areas.
Plants as Housefly Repellents. Houseflies dislike lavender, mint, lemongrass, and basil, in particular. Keep these plants around your kitchen and garden, and near your front and back doors.
What are your favorite tricks to keep flies in check? We want to hear them! Leave us a comment below!
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