Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Flies?
- 2 How to Identify Indoor Flies
- 3 Signs of an Indoor Fly Infestation
- 4 What Attracts Flies to Houses?
- 5 How to Prevent Indoor Flies
- 6 How to Get Rid of Indoor Flies
Of the many pests that can infest homes, flies are among the most annoying. These flying insects seem to come out of nowhere and then be impossible to catch. Most homes, even businesses, have struggled, are struggling, or will struggle with flies at some point. And since some species spread disease, it’s important to understand how to identify, prevent, and get rid of flies.
What Are Flies?
Flies are winged insects that, unlike other insects, typically have two wings, not four. Flies—a group that includes mosquitoes, gnats, and hover flies, among others—make up one of the largest insect groups. Flies need moisture to survive and are often attracted to standing water or wet organic matter, like rotting food. Many files spread pathogens that cause diseases like E. coli infections, typhoid fever, and cholera, regardless of whether they are a biting fly or not. Flies can be found on every continent—even Antarctica, home to the wingless Antarctic midge (Belgica antarctica). While flies have short lifespans, they can reproduce quickly.
How to Identify Indoor Flies
Identifying the species of fly you’re dealing with is essential for creating an effective treatment plan. Here are a few common indoor flies you may encounter:
Houseflies (Musca domestica)
The housefly is a well-known pest across the United States. Originally from central Asia, this pest has invaded nearly every continent, except for Antarctica. Houseflies are about 1/4 of an inch long. They live in tropical climates as well as temperate ones and nest in rural areas just as easily as urban areas.
This fly feeds on garbage and animal droppings. While the housefly does not bite, experts say they can be carriers of as many as 100 diseases, which they pick up while crawling and feeding on decaying organic matter before feeding on human food. They can transmit intestinal, skin, and even eye infections, such as pink eye. Females can lay as many as 500 eggs during their short adulthood (typically 3 weeks).
These insects rarely breed indoors, but they do enter homes through openings like doors and windows. Food sources directly outside your home, like compost piles or uncovered trash cans, can become breeding grounds for house flies and result in indoor infestations.
Fruit Flies (Drosophilidae)
Fruit flies are a common, fast-reproducing fly species found both indoors and outdoors. They are most active outside during summer, but they can infest indoor spaces year-round. These flies are about 1/8 of an inch long and have tan-and-black bodies with (usually) red eyes.
True to their name, fruit flies often feed on fruit and vegetables, like tomatoes, melons, squash, grapes, rotting bananas, potatoes, and onions. These pests can enter your house by passing through small openings and even window screens. They are drawn to any place where unrefrigerated, uncovered fruit is fermenting, like homes, restaurants, and supermarkets, but they can also breed in drains, cleaning rags or mops, and empty bottles and cans.
Fruit flies don’t bite and are more annoying than they are dangerous, but in some cases, they can contaminate food with dangerous organisms and bacteria.
Drain (or Moth) Flies (Psychodidae)
Drain flies, also called moth flies, are small, only reaching about 1/5-1/6 of an inch in length. They’re easy to spot because they have a furry, moth-like appearance; long, curling antennae; broad wings; and gray bodies. They don’t bite humans, but drain fly infestations can happen quickly and become a major nuisance for homeowners and businesses alike.
These flies feed on algae, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that live within or around the scum inside pipes and drains. Drain flies often breed in bathrooms, where they gather around showers, bathtubs, sinks, and floor drains. These flies love basement environments.
Signs of an Indoor Fly Infestation
Wondering if you’re dealing with a fly infestation? Here are several indicators to look for when determining whether you have an infestation on your hands:
The most obvious sign of an indoor fly infestation is adult flies in your home. If you’re seeing flies in increasing numbers, the infestation may be worsening in severity. Check your kitchen, bathrooms, basement, trash cans, litter boxes, and drains for these insects. Many flies are also attracted to light, so look for them near sources of light in your home at night.
Maggots are fly larvae. Spotting maggots in your home means that flies are actively breeding. Unchecked, this can lead to an infestation. Different flies have different breeding sites, but examining your compost, garbage cans, uncovered fruit or produce, and drains for maggots is a good place to start.
Many people find flies annoying because of the irritating buzzing sound that many of them, particularly large flies, produce. Hearing a single fly buzz past your ear isn’t enough to indicate an infestation, but hearing clusters of flies—and the scattered, loud chorus of buzzing that comes with them—can indicate a problem.
What Attracts Flies to Houses?
Flies, like other animals, are always on the lookout for food, shelter, and breeding resources. Here are some of the things that may be attracting flies to your home:
Open Garbage and Trash Cans
Open, unsealed garbage and trash cans can act as beacons for flies to come into your home. Flies are attracted to decomposing, often smelly, organic material. If you carelessly dispose of organic waste inside your home, you are setting the stage for a fly infestation.
Improper food storage can draw flies to your home. Produce in particular is often the culprit if a sudden infestation of flies is taking place in your kitchen. Rather than keep uncovered baskets of fruit on your counter, consider placing the food either in the your refrigerator, or at a minimum, keep the produce in a sealed container. Food caked on dirty dishes can also attract these pesky insects, so be wary of even small bits of improperly stored, or uncovered, food.
Mercury Vapor Lamps
Mercury vapor lamps, which create very bright and long-lasting light, are often used to light up large spaces like gyms and arenas, though some homeowners use them at home. Flies are attracted to the UV light these lamps produce, so be aware when installing them that you may get an increase in the number of flies buzzying about.
How to Prevent Indoor Flies
Preventing indoor fly infestations early on can save you a lot of work down the line. Here are a few ways you can prevent a fly infestation in your home or business:
To a fly, an open window or door is an invitation into your space, so keep these entrances closed when you can. Some flies are even small enough to pass through the netting in window screens, so be mindful of how long you leave your windows open, even when using screens.
It’s also important to seal any cracks and crevices that may be unintended entry points for flies. Install weather stripping around windows or doors to keep flies from squeezing into the small spaces around or beneath them, and use caulk or foam to seal up openings where pipes come through the exterior of your home.
Eliminate Moisture and Potential Breeding Sites
Flies are drawn to moisture, so remove any sources of standing water and dry out damp areas of your home. Take a look both inside and out; a leftover mop bucket with water in it can attract flies, as can containers outside that are collecting rainwater, such as empty flowerpots and children’s toys.
Next, remove any rotting foods like vegetables and fruits where flies might lay eggs and breed. And to keep out drain flies, regularly clean your pipes and plumbing to remove the scum buildup they’re attracted to.
Clean Your House Regularly
Flies love rotting food, dirty drains, and garbage. Prevent them from infesting your home by keeping your house clean and covering/eliminating these potential fly food sources and habitats.
Cover and Seal Garbage and Trash Cans
Flies gravitate to the decomposing food items in your trash can, so it’s important to keep these bins closed and sealed. Empty your trash and garbage cans regularly, clipping lids into place after use. Check under the plastic liners and clean cans frequently with soap and water to remove any caked-on food.
How to Get Rid of Indoor Flies
There are a number of home remedies you can try to get rid of an indoor fly infestation. Below are a few common strategies:
There are a number of traps you can make or buy to target flies in and around your home. Light traps use short wavelength, or UV, light to trap adult flies to glue boards or kill them with an electric shock. You can also hang sticky fly paper from ceilings in spaces where you’re encountering the flies. For fruit flies in particular, you can create a trap using simple household materials to capture and eliminate adult flies. Here’s how to make a DIY fruit fly trap:
- In a glass cup or mason jar, add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and a few drop of liquid dish soap. Stir and let sit.
- Using tape and copy paper, create a paper funnel that will rest inside the opening of your glass. The point of the funnel should extend about halfway down the inside of the container without touching the vinegar solution. When you’ve finished creating the funnel, use scissors to snip off the tip of the funnel so that the opening is about 1/4 of an inch. Place the funnel into the glass (pointed end down) and tape the outside of the funnel to the edge of the glass to seal any gaps.
- Fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar solution and fly through the funnel into the container, but they won’t be able to fly back out through the narrow opening. Remove the funnel to empty the trap periodically and refill the vinegar solution as needed.
Various fly traps can help manage adult flies buzzing around your home, but for maximum impact, consult a pest control professional so you can also target fly larvae and eggs.
Drain and Septic Treatments
To get rid of flies living in drains, clean drains and pipes with industrial drain cleaner and a hard bristle brush to remove the scummy film within the pipe. Turn on your tap or shower head to make sure that water runs freely and that the drain is clear. Follow up by pouring boiling water down the drain to kill off remaining flies, larvae, or eggs.
If your indoor fly infestation is severe, don’t hesitate to call a pest control expert to manage the problem. These experts perform comprehensive treatments and can provide you with the information and resources you need to prevent future indoor fly infestations.
When to Call a Professional to Remove Indoor Flies from Your Home
While there are many home remedies you can try to get rid of the occasional fly problem, a pest control professional can provide guidance for the most effective solutions. Our field experts at Joshua’s Pest Control have years of experience dealing with infestations just like yours and are the best in the business.
Our experts know exactly what strategies and products to use to control flies and can accurately identify the species you’re facing so they can quickly remove them from your home.
Call one of our experts today at (858) 547-9900 or click here to get your free quote.