There is no denying that the common housefly is one of the most annoying pests during the spring and summer months. Although house flies do not pose any serious threats to humans, they spread germs everywhere they land, and some flies can carry diseases that cause temporary illnesses. It is difficult to control house fly populations, but there are many steps you can take and products you can use to keep your house and even your yard house fly-free.
So, how do you get rid of house flies? House flies cannot be eradicated from an area, but using preventative measures and certain insecticides and techniques to repel flies can keep the pests away from your home. Spray insecticides containing bifenthrin work well to kill house flies on contact.
Since house flies are a flying pest that multiplies rapidly, you will always have stray flies entering your home or flying around the porch or yard. Therefore, repelling flies is the best way to address this common pest. If you have an indoor house fly infestation, there are special products and techniques that will destroy the infestation. This article will explore all that is needed to know about house flies and how to repel and get rid of them.
What Is the Lifecycle of a House Fly?
Like mosquitoes, flies have a very unique life cycle that includes multiple stages before death. All house flies start out as eggs that resemble darkly colored rice grains and can commonly be found in dark, moist environments. If indoors, this will likely be near the kitchen or bathroom sink or even in the moist soil of a house plant. Also, if there is any decaying food or organic residue, such as a garbage compactor, house flies will seek these areas out for egg-laying.
Outdoors, this area will likely include pet feces if present or any dark and moist area where eggs will not be disturbed. Each female housefly can lay over 100 eggs in a single batch, and she can produce up to 30-50 batches in her lifetime. This is why house flies are so numerous and will always be an annoying pest.
After a single day of gestation, eggs hatch into slimy, crawling larvae known as maggots. Flies during the maggot stage can be a nuisance all their own since they crawl around emitting a horrendous odor for 3 to 5 days as they eat the moisture or decaying matter near to where they hatched. In this time frame, maggots will shed a few skin stages known as molting, whereby which they will crawl to a dark space and cocoon inside of casing during the pupae stage.
Over the next week, the maggots slowly turn into adult flies inside the casing and will emerge and begin flying and reproducing immediately. This cycle repeats indefinitely during the spring and summer months. Flies will hibernate and lay eggs during the late autumn and winter months depending on the species.
How Long Do House Flies Live?
From the egg stage until death, the standard life expectancy of a housefly is roughly one month. Indoor flies that live in attractive environments of warmth with ample amounts of food and moisture can live longer sometimes upward of three months but never longer than this.
This may sound like a very brief amount of time but this is just for a single fly. Since these pests reproduce so rapidly and numerously, swarms of house flies are an endless nuisance to home and business owners. Flies will need organic matter and moisture to survive and reproduce; therefore, the life expectancy can be severely reduced if there is nothing around for a fly to survive on.
What Attracts House Flies?
House flies are attracted to all of the things that sustain their lives. These essential necessities are food, which can be any organic (living or once-living) matter, sugary and sweet flavored liquids or foods, as well as water. Additionally, house flies look for dark, warm, and moist environments when they need to reproduce and deposit eggs.
It is important to note that flies are a pest that loves unsanitary and filthy environments; they share this trait with cockroaches. Since the kitchen and the bathroom are the two hardest areas of the interior of a home to keep clean, and also due to the abundance of dark and damp spaces, house flies will congregate in these rooms inside of a home.
When outdoors, house flies are heavily attracted to animal waste and trash cans. If you have ever opened a trash can during spring and summer and found it crawling with maggots, this is because decaying waste and darkness inside of the can is what attracts the flies to lay their eggs.
House flies are also attracted to humans in general since people provide insects with all of the things they need to survive. This is why summer barbecues and outdoor events are always crawling with flies because sweet foods and drinks are always being dropped and spilled on the ground and disposed of in trash cans. This is also why it is important to repel flies as much as possible when eating outdoors since they frequently land and crawl in food.
Light sources will also attract flies with the sun being their primary guiding light. At night, house flies are mostly inactive unless there is a strong emission of light causing them to remain active, such as UV light.
Do House Flies Bite?
Thankfully, house flies are nothing like what happened to Jeff Goldblum in the infamous movie The Fly! You don’t have to worry about acidic bile harming your skin or house flies becoming abnormally aggressive. With this said, house flies have been known to bite or, rather, pierce the skin with their beaks.
Most of the time, this is out of curiosity or confusion because house flies have no need to bite humans or animals; some of their distant cousins, like the stable fly or the midge and gnat regularly bite humans since they need blood to survive, whereas house flies do not.
House flies have no teeth or stingers; therefore, the small suction beak they use to ingest their food is what is felt if a house fly bites a human.
With this in mind, it is important to know that house flies do spread diseases and numerous amounts of germs on every surface they land on. Typhoid fever, cholera, and E. coli are some of the potentially dangerous diseases that flies can deposit on the surfaces they land upon. Once you get rid of flies in the home, be sure to sanitize all countertops and surfaces that are frequently touched thoroughly.
What Do House Flies Eat?
As previously mentioned, house flies prefer to eat decaying organic matter but they will settle for edible foods and liquids that people regularly eat and drink. In terms of sugary and sweet foods, this is more of an attractant for the fruit fly, but house flies will also be drawn to the strong aromas that sweet food and drink emit.
Any type of food or liquid that is left out on counters or even small crumbs and droplets is enough to attract house flies to the food and drink where they will feed. Additionally, food left in open trash cans, and any kind of remnants of waste inside of toilets or in bathroom trash cans will attract house flies.
House flies will consume the food and drink particles by emitting an acidic form of bile that breaks down the matter into a liquid substance that slurps up through their suction beaks. Since house flies consume so much liquid, they have a tendency to defecate every time they land on a surface, even on the food that they are about to break down and eat.
The food that house flies choose to eat may also serve as their choice of egg-laying site if the food is an area, such as a trash can, where the flies can be sure that hatched maggots will have the decaying matter to feed on.
Where Do House Flies Lay Eggs?
There is no set place that house flies will always use to lay their eggs. We have already discussed how these pests prefer a dark and moist environment to deposit their eggs, but flies will also sometimes choose to lay their eggs on food particles or even out in the open, granted there is some moist or decaying residue nearby to feed the maggots once they hatch.
Inside of the home, this can be near or underneath a sink, near or inside trash cans, or in unsuspecting places where food may have been accidentally dropped and hidden from view, such as behind a sofa or behind kitchen appliances. If you have spoiled vegetables like potatoes or fruits in a pantry, many homeowners frequently find the source of interior fly infestations in these areas. Cat litter boxes have also been known to start house fly infestations!
Outside of the home, house flies will also still try and find damp and dark places near a food source to lay their eggs. This can include such places as grass cuttings or tall grass, the moist soil underneath bushes and trees, and especially gardens. Fruit and vegetable gardens are ideal for flies to lay eggs since maggots will have nearby food. House flies will also lay eggs near flowers as well due to the nectar and sugary fluids available.
How To Get Rid of House Flies: The Complete Guide
Now that we have covered the behaviors of house flies let’s look at ways to get rid of and control house flies.
A key point to remember about spray insecticides for flying insects is that these products only work well as contact-kill insecticides. There is no sense in trying to find a residual insecticide for house flies since there is no way to predict where the flies will land. With that said, these products are useful to have if you are battling an indoor infestation as you can easily knock down groups of swarming flies that cluster together in one area.
In a house fly infestation, the only way to attack the problem is to find and remove the source of the reproducing and then destroy the flies swarming inside of the house. An insecticide is a good product to use once you have eliminated the source of the problem.
Let’s take a look at some of the best products to consider.
PT Alpine Pressurized Fly Bait is a ready-to-use formulation that’s fast-acting and convenient to apply. Featuring the active ingredient dinotefuran, PT Alpine Pressurized Fly Bait complements existing fly solutions, and it can be applied in the following areas: residential settings, especially in and around garbage containers; outdoor events, to prevent fly problems around trash containers; and commercial recycling and trash areas.
PT Alpine is a versatile fly product that can be used as an area, band, or spot treatment application. The formulation applies fast with no mess and dries almost clear without a strong odor.
- Attracts and kills house flies for up to 30 days as a powerful residual insecticide
- Dries clear with no odor
- Kills all varieties of flies
- Not a direct contact kill product
- The potent chemical formulation could pose dangers to children and pets
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Ortho Home Defense harnesses the power of essential oils for a proven way to kill unwanted house flies in your home. Formulated with essential oils such as cinnamon oil, geraniol, castor oil, corn mint oil, and clove oil, this product can be used to kill mosquitoes, fruit flies, and other flying bugs in addition to house flies.
This product can be used indoors in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages, attics, and living areas as well as outdoors on porches and patios.
- Safe and effective
- Can be sprayed virtually anywhere
- Kills flies within seconds
- Not as strong as insecticide formulations
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Traps and Zappers
There are many different types of house fly trapping systems, yet the best most universal function amongst all of the products is the ability to attract house flies and get rid of the insects by trapping them. A house fly trap is designed to lure the insects with an attractant that mimics the aroma of decaying matter and/or insect pheromones. Trapping mechanisms may also use lighting arrays to draw the insects into the trap, specifically UV light, which is also a strong lure for house flies.
Let’s take a look at some of the best trappers and zappers available for purchase.
Unlike a flying insect magnet, an electronic insect-control system or ‘zapper’ also uses attractants but relies on a powerful electrical grid system to lure the insects in and electrocute them on contact. Instead of trapping the bugs, this model kills them instantly.
This is achieved via a high-voltage electrical transformer within the trap, which is usually made of mesh that electrocutes the bugs as soon as they land on it. The voltage rates generally fluctuate between 1,000 to 2,000 volts and all of these components are housed inside a protective barrier to prevent any possible electrical currents from emitting outwards from the transformer.
High-voltage traps like this one are attractive due to the ability of these models to instantly kill the pests, which prevents any possibility of escape.
- Contains an effective attractant for flies and even mosquitoes
- Easy-to-use and clean
- Perfect for killing large amounts of outdoor flies
- Waterproof and durable
- The inside grid can be very dangerous if touched
- May only work against house flies at night
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Indoor house fly traps need to prioritize safety above all else since the products rely on powerful electrical grids with high voltage to zap flies in lieu of trapping them. This is beneficial for this species of insect since females frequently find ways to get inside of homes to feed lay eggs.
The Aspectek 20W is designed specifically to be mounted on walls with two powerful UV lights to attract flies to the electrical grid.
The standout feature of this unit is the safety it will provide you when placed indoors through a mesh screen to prevent electrical shock.
- Two layers of mesh screen covering the electrical grid for safety
- No chemical attractants
- Removable collection tray
- Mesh screens can prevent some flies from touching the grid
- Possible fire hazard when continuously left on
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Getting rid of house flies naturally is fairly easy and first and foremost in this category is investing in a durable and strong fly swatter to kill flies when they land. But in terms of more practical and long-lasting efforts, there are homemade traps and landing traps that you can consider using.
To make a vinegar and dish soap trap, all you need is a bowl, some plastic wrap, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and fruity-smelling dish soap if you can find one.
Pour about 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in the bowl along with a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of dish soap; mix well and cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap. Be sure to punch holes in the top of the plastic so the flies can enter the bowl and land in the mixture which will kill them.
This method works well for stray flies, as does hanging some handy sticky fly sticks that hang in place and attract flies with an alluring aroma. Once the house flies land on the stick, they remain stuck and slowly die over time.
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The best way to control house flies is to prevent the flies from infesting your home or yard in the first place. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind to prevent house fly infestations.
Controlling Animal Waste
A big problem with house flies and infestations is animal feces. It’s not always feasible to clean up dog and cat feces if you have a large yard where pets can roam free, but it is a good habit to get into to prevent flies from reproducing on the waste and infesting the areas near it.
Make it a habit to clean up and properly dispose of pet waste after every bowel movement from your pet. It’s a messy task but crucial if you want to prevent pests that are attracted to waste. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap afterward.
Keep All Trash Cans Sealed
Another easy target for house flies is garbage cans, both indoors and outdoors. Never allow trash to sit overnight in a can inside of the home. Always keep outdoor trash cans sealed and if may help to double bag and tie down food or animal waste before placing it in outside trash cans.
How To Catch Flies in Your House
Once flies are inside your home, it is important to kill or capture them as soon as possible to prevent a possible infestation. You can catch flies with any of the methods we mentioned above, and always kill all flies in the house and never live any behind.
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Why are there so many flies in my house?
Numerous flies inside the home can be for one or two reasons: flies are easily entering the house searching for an attractive food source or, there is an active house fly infestation somewhere inside of the home. A house fly infestation inside the home is a serious matter since this is a possibility where house flies can transmit a wide range of diseases to humans.
If you are constantly seeing flies clustering together or seemingly coming out of nowhere, especially when you monitor opening and closing doors and windows, this means that a reproduction source is somewhere in the house and must be found.
Why are there so many flies outside my house?
Flies outside of the home are completely normal in the warm months of the year. But if you are noticing large swarms of flies outdoors this could indicate that there is something attracting or feeding the flies that you need to inspect for. Large swarms outdoors will mean that more and more flies will likely enter the home when you open and close doors and windows.
Do house flies sleep?
Believe it or not, house flies do sleep. Since house flies are programmed to be active with sunlight or any light source, this means that house flies will usually only be active during the day. Flies outdoors will rest in safe areas like trees and underneath structures at night.
If flies are inside the home, artificial light may throw off the circadian rhythm of the flies, and swarming in circles around lamps and overhead lights is a common sight.
House flies will always be around when the weather is warm, but this doesn’t have to mean your house and yard must be swarming with flies at all times. Be sure to follow prevention techniques to keep flies less interested in your home and yard, and always invest in useful products to destroy a house fly infestation if one occurs indoors.
House flies are a nuisance and can even carry diseases, therefore, it is good practice not to ignore this common pest and always keep your home and yard clean and sanitary.