The most common types of flies you will find in your house are the house fly (funny and ironic enough of a name) and the fruit fly. Luckily for us, flies are mostly just a major annoyance overall and there are some things you can do if you find them in your home.
If you find a fly in your house, the best steps to take are:
- Determine which type of fly you have inside
- Keep your house cleaner
- Remove any standing water or left out food
- Utilize fly sticky traps and light traps
- Use window screens to limit fly entry points
Flies in the home can make you feel like your house is dirty or you are doing something wrong when, in reality, a lot of times the smallest little spill can attract them. Knowing how to handle them and just where the heck they came from will do wonders. Let’s get to it!
Where Do House Flies Come From?
The common house fly, or Musca domestica, first showed up in central Asia a very long time ago and since then has spread out and covers the entire globe. Fruit flies on the other hand, or Drosophila melanogaster, came from the forests in South Africa.
How To Know Which Type Of Fly Is In Your House
The House Fly
Generally, house flies like to eat and live in decaying and decomposing things, including garbage, sewage, animal droppings, compost, you name it. If it is something nasty, sticky, or smelly, a fly is going to find its way over to check it out.
According to Texas A&M, you can find these common flies all over the world within close proximity of where humans live. Meaning, if there are humans, there are flies. I remember the first time I had flies in my home I was convinced I was a slob and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned when in reality I wasn’t. Flies just like to live nearby to mooch off our waste.
House flies don’t bite and a lot of times they can be mistaken for flies who do like a stable fly. It’s not cool of them to drop in with their dirty little feet on our countertops.
The house fly has 2 wings on their backs along with 4 black straps going lengthwise across their thorax. Many people say they have almost a checked look about them. Flies are about ⅛ to ¼ of an inch long and these little guys do not live very long.
House flies only live about 3 weeks. However, the University of Florida argues adult flies can live up to 2 months if the conditions are right. A great place other than a home for a house fly to live is in barns. They adore living among chickens, pigs, and horses.
House flies can live in almost any climate, but they like it best when there is low humidity with a high temperature and they will move the slowest and are least likely to be seen when the temperature is high along with the humidity also being high.
The Fruit Fly
Fruit flies are a lot smaller than a house fly. They actually are more of the size of a gnat and often get confused for gnats. Fruit flies have little red eyes as a defining factor to differentiate them from their doppelgänger; gnats.
Fruit flies live all year round and can be a problem any time of the year. They love to eat very ripe and even overripe fruit, but they will live just about anywhere damp and warm. They can make a home in any place fermentation can occur, including drains, old kitchen rags, recyclables (like soda cans), etc.
When I first experienced fruit flies, I did everything I could find to get rid of them in my house and I did not know they could live in drains. I put out traps and cleaned constantly, but I couldn’t get rid of them. Turns out, they were climbing up from their little home in my drain.
These flies may be attracted to the sweet smell of your fruits, as well as the disgusting smell of the rotting ones.
However, one of my favorite methods is the apple cider vinegar method which you can read more about in our article about scents fruit flies are attracted to.
What To Do If You Have House Flies In Your Home
Now that you know how to identify these pesky little bugs, we can start talking about ways to make sure you never have to see them in your home again. Penn State says house flies will lay their eggs in decaying matter near your home and lay up to 150 eggs at a time. So, when you have a few flies, chances are you are soon about to have many, many flies.
1. Keep Your House Clean
While you might not have a dirty home because you have flies, there is something in or around your home causing them to come. A lot of different things you might not even think about, like your dog’s droppings in the yard or some spilled hummingbird food on your porch, can attract flies.
Cleaning up anything decaying or decomposing is a great first step. Any droppings in your yard has got to get picked up, and compost bins need to be scooted away from your home. If you have some plants doing poorly outside of your house, maybe it’s time to say goodbye to them as well.
Wipe down your garbage cans on the outside to get rid of anything that might make them stick to the can itself and make sure the tops are on tight so the flies cannot creep in there and make themselves a home out of what is inside.
2. Clean Up Any Standing Water or Left Out Food
Texas A&M talks about cultural control and mentions changing the environment to be less appealing to flies is your top priority, which is a lot like the last step of sanitation. Make sure it’s hard for them to get food and water, clean up any place with leaks or standing water.
Along with this, they discuss a lot of things you can use to deter flies other than chemical agents. For starters, you can use your handy dandy fly swatter to control flies day to day. While this might put an immediate solution to your problem for the day, it will not control it forever (remember those 150 eggs per female that are harboring somewhere nearby).
3. Use Sticky Traps
A common method you may see is sticky traps. I’m sure everyone in their life has seen sticky traps, which are the yellow, sticky ribbons you tack to the ceiling.
They hang down and flies cruise themselves into them and cannot get off of them once they touch them. I don’t know about you, but getting your hair caught in one of these is no fun at all.
When you are using these sticky traps, it’s recommended to have one 10-inch strip of sticky trap paper per 100 cubic feet. You should hang them so they sit about 6 feet or less from the floor and change them out approximately every 3 months when they are no longer sticky.
These Dwcom 20PCS Sticky Fly Strips are a great option! It comes with multiple sticky traps so you have plenty to swap out and disperse around your home. They are also non-toxic and give off no foul odor.
4. Use Light Traps
A light trap is one of those zappers you were probably told not to touch growing up. They usually hang from a post or rafter and they glow to attract bugs. Once the bug flies into the light, they are zapped and eliminated from the equation.
When hanging light traps, hang them at least 15 feet away from any door of your home. Not only so you do not walk outside and bump into it, but it needs to be some place darker, so it is the only light available for them to be attracted to.
The Homesuit Bug Zapper is a fantastic, easy-to-use option. It is EPA registered and made of a fireproof material. This bug zapper can also cover a 2100 square foot area!
5. Use Screens and Block Entrances To Keep Flies Away
There is a really good chance the flies are not living in your house, but living outside of your home and coming in to get food. So, it is really important to understand we need to close off all entrances and exits the flies might be taking.
You should use screens on your windows if you want to keep them open to get a pleasant breeze during hot days. Keeping airflow coming in and out of your house consistent can help air out the flies as well. They want decaying and decomposing matter, and with constant airflow, it is less likely they will find anything of the sort.
If you have any cracks or holes in or around entrances, close them up. If you leave your door open a lot, either use a screen door in place of it or consider closing it or hanging sticky traps nearby.
In addition with blocking entrances, you can also utilize the scents that flies hate near fly entry points to your house!
What To Do If You Have Fruit Flies In Your Home
When it comes to fruit flies, there are 3 methods of removal. You can get rid of what they want and where they live, or you can trap them out.
1. Remove Any Left Out Food
First, you can get rid of what they want. They want fruit in your home, especially overripe fruit. Making sure you are not wasting fruit and letting it sit out is a big way to change how many fruit flies you see.
Store fruit in a cabinet or the fridge even if you want to and make sure you are using fruit with splits in the peel (like a banana might). If you compost and throw away peels, try putting them in your fridge or freezer until it is ready to go outside, or make sure you compost far from your doors.
You can also help mask any scents left out by fruit flies using scents they hate.
2. Eliminate Fruit Fly Breeding Areas
When it comes to fruit flies, as I said earlier, they like to live anywhere dark, wet, and easy to ferment. Get rid of those places, and you will get rid of your problem. Clean up old shop rags, move your recycling to a place away from your living spaces and make sure it is all cleaned out and rinsed before getting thrown in the bin.
Check your drains for them. If you see them in your drain, you can pour a bit of baking soda down the drain and pack it in. You can follow this up with some vinegar to clean them out well.
This will break up the eggs and the home of the fruit fly to send them on their way.
For information on how to keep these pests away, check out our guide on getting rid of fruit flies on your garbage.
3. Use Makeshift Fruit Fly Traps
Finally, you can trap them. There are a few different homemade traps that work great. The most effective one I used was taking a bowl and filling it with some apple cider vinegar to attract the fruit flies.
Then, put a few drops of dish soap into it. Once they fly into it, the soap acts as a barrier and they cannot get back out of it.
You can also make a little funnel trap with an old water bottle. Fill it with some apple cider vinegar and they will fly in and not be able to fly out. You can do this with a funnel too (hence the name) if you have one of them.
Fruit flies hardly ever sleep, so you’ll have a good chance of getting them in one of these
That’s A Wrap!
Overall, these little bugs (both house flies and fruit flies) are pains. If you can get rid of their eggs, you can get rid of them, too. Cleaning up, eliminating breeding sites, using traps, and creating uninviting environments can help you live a happier, fly-free life.
Anushree Malik, Neena Singh & Santosh Satya (2007) House fly (Musca domestica): A review of control strategies for a challenging pest, Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B, 42:4, 453-469, DOI: 10.1080/03601230701316481Dakshinamurty, S. (1948).
The common House-fly, Musca domestica, L., and its Behaviour to Temperature and Humidity. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 39(3), 339-357. doi:10.1017/S000748530002246X
Park, R., Dzialo, M.C., Spaepen, S. et al. Microbial communities of the house fly Musca domestica vary with geographical location and habitat.Microbiome 7, 147 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-019-0748-9
Scott, J.G., Roush, R.T. & Liu, N. Selection of high-level abamectin resistance from field-collected house flies,Musca domestica . Experientia 47, 288–291 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01958163
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
Download My Free E-Book!
Take a look at my guide on Pest Proofing Your Home In Under a Day! I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.