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How to Get Rid of Flies

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In this guide, we will cover how to get rid of flies and steps you can take to keep them away. If you feel your fly problem is already out of control, we recommend contacting a top pest control company for professional assistance.

Identifying Common Flies

While many methods for getting rid of flies may work for multiple varieties of insects, it’s important to identify the type of fly in your house in order to prevent the infestation from coming back. Here are some of the most common and widely distributed fly species.

Common Fruit Flies

Although fruit flies are useful for scientific research thanks to their short life cycles and simple genetics, they’re a real pain if they get in your pantry. Fortunately, these flies are mostly just annoyances, but they reproduce quickly and can sometimes carry bacteria from one surface to another. Common breeding sites include even small amounts of old produce outside of the refrigerator, like those found in a poorly cleaned garbage can or disposal.

These yellow-brown flies are very small—only about 1/10 of an inch in length. They live for about 50 days, but female fruit flies can start reproducing about 12 hours after they hatch. You’re most likely to see fruit flies in the hot months of late summer and early fall.

House Flies

House flies, true to their name, are perhaps the most common indoor fly, and they can be found nearly everywhere in the world that humans live. They tend to congregate on garbage and animal waste, and they can bring germs with them wherever they land. They also contaminate food with their own waste and saliva, making a house fly infestation an immediate health hazard. Although they don’t carry disease on their own, they can potentially transmit germs from infected people.

These flies are about 1/4 of an inch long and have gray or black bodies with big red eyes and a single pair of wings. They normally only live for 7-10 days, but a single female house fly can lay up to 500 eggs in that time. Like fruit flies, house flies are most common in late summer and early fall.

Drain Flies

If you’re seeing flies in your bathroom rather than around food, you might have an infestation of drain flies. These pests feed on the bacteria found in damp plumbing, so they can set up shop in a sink or bathtub drain or around a leaky pipe. While they don’t bite or spread disease, they can be hard to get rid of. They’re most commonly found in humid areas of the world.

Though drain flies are sometimes confused with house flies, their wings have a distinctly furry, moth-like appearance. They live for about 20 days and only breed once, but since they often lay their eggs deep in drains, where they can withstand dehydration for weeks, they can be a persistent problem.

Ways to Get Rid of Flies

Here’s how to get rid of fruit flies, house flies, and drain flies.

Fly Traps

Since fruit flies and house flies are both attracted to the sugar in produce, it’s easy enough to make your own fly traps out of common household materials. Follow these simple steps to create a trap.

  1. Find an old bowl or jar to serve as a trap. You can wash and reuse it when it’s served its purpose.
  2. Bait the trap with a sugary substance. Apple cider vinegar attracts flies, as do pieces of fruit.
  3. Cover the opening of the jar with plastic wrap and use a pin to poke small holes in the wrap. This will trap flies by luring them in with the scent and preventing them from escaping. If you don’t have plastic wrap, create a funnel shape out of a piece of paper with a small opening at the end. Use tape to secure the funnel and place it point-side down in the jar. Flies will be able to get in but not out.
  4. You can also fill a jar with about an inch of apple cider vinegar topped with a tablespoon of dish soap. The flies will land on the mixture to feed but will be unable to escape.

Organic Fly Control

Drain flies are usually harder to control than other types because of where they nest and reproduce, and their eggs are able to resist common cleaners like bleach. Trapping adult flies usually won’t solve the problem, as they’ve likely already laid eggs. Instead, clean drains very thoroughly with your favorite organic cleaner and plenty of old-fashioned elbow grease.

If you’re still seeing flies, try combining ½ cup of salt with ½ cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar and pouring the mixture down the drain at night. The next morning, boil a pot of water and pour that down the drain.

Chemical Fly Control

While you don’t want to pour pesticides down the drain in an attempt to control drain flies, you may have some luck with chemical unclogging products like Drano. These won’t kill the flies themselves, but they may flush out any obstructions where the flies may be breeding.

If you’ve cleaned and sanitized your home and you’re still having fly problems, get rid of house flies with chemical bait stations. However, don’t start actually spraying chemicals around your home until you’ve consulted with pest control professionals.

Call the Professionals

Of course, some pest problems ultimately require professional help. Pest control providers will identify the species you’re dealing with and apply the most appropriate solutions. Many even offer organic or pet-friendly options, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plans and services, reputation and customer responses, customer service offerings, workmanship guarantees, financing, and availability to arrive at a final score on a 5-point rating scale.

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