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How to Get Rid of Flies Quickly and Effectively

A fruit fly nibbles on honey from a spoon. Learn how to get rid of flies fast.
Helmut Feil / Getty Images

Flies are small and seemingly harmless pests that have the potential to cause big problems. It’s estimated that common flies carry more than 100 diseases that they spread to food and other surfaces through feces and regurgitation. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to successfully deal with flies in your home and prevent them from coming back.

What do flies look like?

There are many breeds of flies and each has its own unique characteristics. Adult flies range in size from 1/16 of an inch to over 3/4 of an inch and they can vary dramatically in color. There are, however, some physical characteristics that are the same across all breeds of flies. One of the most unique physical characteristics of a fly is the fact that it has only one set of wings. This distinguishes the fly from most other flying pests and can help you make a positive identification.

How do you get flies?

Flies come into your home in search of food, moisture, and shelter. Flies are not picky when it comes to what they like to eat. Food leftover on plates, crumbs on the ground, or garbage in a trash can with no lid are all things that can attract flies. Some types of flies require a moisture-rich environment to lay their eggs and can often find areas inside of homes, such as bathrooms or drains, that provide the moisture they need. Flies can enter your home through a tear in a screen, a crack in a window, or a door that gets opened frequently.

How long can fly infestations last?

Flies are attracted to decaying organic matter and some of them need this matter in order to breed successfully. If you’re trying to figure out where flies come from and how to get rid of flies, the first two steps you need to take are to identify the type of fly infestation you have and then locate the source of the decaying matter that’s allowing them to thrive.

Some types of flies are capable of living and breeding entirely indoors, while others can only spend part of their life-cycle inside. Experts at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension point out that the flies that can complete their entire life-cycle indoors are typically less than 1/8 of an inch, and include the phorid fly, fruit fly, drain fly, and the fungus gnat. The fact that these types of flies can go through the entire life-cycle inside means that an infestation can go on indefinitely as long as the flies have access to a food source.

Larger breeds of flies can be more than 1/4 of an inch in adulthood. These larger flies include the house fly, soldier fly, flesh fly, and blowfly. These types of flies do not typically breed inside because they need decaying matter such as animal feces, garbage, or animal carcasses for breeding. If you’re having trouble with large flies inside your home, it could be an indication that there’s a breeding site nearby. For example, if a rodent dies in your attic or inside of a wall, it can provide these types of flies with the breeding environment they need. The infestation will continue until you take steps to eliminate the breeding ground.

How to get rid of flies, step by step

If you’re looking for information on how to get rid of flies and want to know how to keep flies away once you eradicate them from your home, here are step-by-step instructions.

Step 1: Eliminate easy-to-access food sources in your home.

Flies need to eat and many homes provide easy access to food. If you want to keep flies away, you need to be diligent in your efforts to clean up spills, wipe down counters, and make sure that trash is disposed of properly.

Step 2: Close up breaches that are allowing flies inside.

In order to get inside of your house, flies must find some type of breach or opening. This can include a door or window screen with a tear, a door or window that does not close properly, or some type of crack. These maintenance issues can make it easy for flies to get inside.

Step 3: Choose a solution that kills or traps flies.

There are a number of options for getting rid of flies. If you’re looking for options for how to kill flies, you can consider bug zappers and chemical solutions. You can trap flies by putting out a sticky fly trap or bag designed to attract and trap flies. There are also a number of home remedies for flies such as the fruit fly trap DIY option outlined below.

Products you can use to treat a fly infestation

  • Sticky fly trap: Flies inside your home are annoying and can be difficult to catch and kill. A sticky fly trap can help you get rid of flies by making it impossible for them to fly off once they land on the strip of sticky paper.
  • Fruit fly trap: If you’re looking for a product to help you get rid of fruit flies, the Terro Fruit Fly Trap can help by using a fruit fly lure to attract the flies into the trap and prevent them from flying back out.
  • Bug zapper: If you’re wondering how to get rid of flies outside, you can use a bug zapper. Bug zappers use UV light to attract pests and then electrocute them once they get close.

Don’t want to use chemical cleaners? Here’s how to get rid of flies naturally

There are a number of non-chemical and home remedies to get rid of flies. Three of the products mentioned in the previous section — the sticky fly trap, the fruit fly trap, and the bug zapper — can get rid of flies without harsh chemicals. You can also make your own fly traps if you want to know for sure that there are no chemicals in the solution you choose.

A simple bowl with apple cider vinegar and dish soap set on the counter can attract fruit flies and cause them to drown. The experts at A&M AgriLife Extension outline how to make a DIY fruit fly trap using a two-liter soda bottle and apple cider vinegar. Cut the top of the bottle off to create a funnel and invert the top of the bottle into the bottom half. In the bottom of the bottle put a few ounces of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will attract the flies and they will be able to easily fly into the funnel but will find it difficult to fly out.

When to call a professional exterminator to treat flies

Unfortunately, there are times when a fly infestation is simply too large or stubborn to eliminate without professional help. If you’ve tried to deal with flies on your own with little-to-no success, it’s time to call a professional exterminator. It can sometimes be difficult to locate the source of a fly infestation and if you do not successfully deal with what is causing the fly problem, it will continue indefinitely. A professional exterminator can help you treat the flies currently bothering you and find the source of the problem to eliminate future issues.

How to keep flies away

The most important part of keeping flies away is to eliminate things in your environment that allow them to thrive. Clean up crumbs, spills, and leftover food right away to avoid attracting flies inside. Make sure to properly dispose of garbage in a trash can with a well-closing lid. If flies are suddenly causing you problems, it means that there’s something in or around your house that provides them with the conditions they need to breed. Decaying organic matter — such as garbage, animal feces, and animal carcasses — is what many types of flies require for breeding. Find and remove any decaying matter that you find in or near your home in order to stop flies at the source and keep them out of your house.

The bottom line on flies

Flies are pests capable of spreading diseases to humans. Flies spend much of their time in or around decaying organic matter such as animal feces, garbage, and animal carcasses. If they get inside your house, they can spread the germs and bacteria they encounter by landing on your surfaces and your food. You can take steps to prevent flies by being consistent with your cleaning efforts, disposing of garbage properly, and removing decaying matter that is in or near your house. Another step for prevention is to seal up any breaches around your property that let flies inside. If flies are already a problem in your home, you can purchase products to trap or kill them, make DIY traps, or hire professional help to get them out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are flies attracted to?

Flies are attracted to decaying matter that is often found in garbage or food.

How do I prevent flies from getting inside my home?

Inspect the exterior of your home for breaches that are allowing flies inside. Pay special attention to the areas around your doors and windows. Look for cracks and ripped screens that are big enough for flies to fit through.

What is causing so many flies around my home?

If you notice a sudden increase in fly activity in or around your home, it means that there is decaying organic matter nearby. A dead rodent in a wall, animal feces in the backyard, or garbage near your house are all possible sources.

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