How To Eliminate Houseflies In Your Home
Summer is the season of the common housefly. It’s an unfortunate, unavoidable fact. But there are ways to reduce the fly population in your home this season—and plenty of reasons to do it!
Houseflies aren’t just a nuisance; they are also a health hazard. They can carry over 130 pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, some of which are serious or life-threatening for humans! (Examples include: Salmonella, E. coli, Staphylococci, Streptococci, and Ebola.)
Below are three easy steps you can take to help keep houseflies out of your house this season.
1. Prevent Entry
Prevention is the best solution to most problems, including houseflies. Sure, an occasional fly may slip inside as you and your family enter and leave your house. If, however, you are seeing more than just the occasional visitor, you may want to search for other potential points of entry.
- Make sure you have and use screens on your windows.
- Check around any window A/C units for spaces that would allow flies and other pests inide your home.
- Check for any caulk cracks to repair and deter entry.
Also, check for cracks and gaps around your doors. Your screen door may have gaps around the edges, or there may be holes in the screen. Your primary door may have damaged or missing weather stripping, leaving “fly-sized” holes.
2. Make Your Home Less Attractive
Yes, you work hard to make your home as appealing and comfortable as possible for family and friends. But, one of the best ways to avoid a housefly problem is to make sure your home isn’t an attractive place for them to live—and to breed.
Keep the dishes done.
Flies love to snack on leftover food. They have tiny mouths, so even the smallest smears of food remaining on dishes stacked in the sink will provide a feast. Ditto for any plates, pots, and pans temporarily “stored” on the counter between dishwasher runs. So keep your dishes washed up and run your dishwasher more frequently to eliminate an attractive food source.
Keep the kitty litter clean.
Let’s face it. Beyond rotted food, flies love waste. You don’t want to provide a buffet in your cat’s litter box, especially during hot weather months.
Flies can lay 150 eggs at a time and will produce several batches every week. An egg’s gestation period is only 24 hours, and a litter box is an excellent place for larvae (maggots) to emerge and be well-fed until they can sprout wings and join other houseflies in your home. Empty your cat’s litter box daily during the fly season!
Wipe up any spills immediately.
If you or a member of the family spill something (especially soda or other sweet, sticky liquids) or place something that leaves a sticky residue (like that spot on the counter where your five-year-old left their popsicle for just a minute), you have created an alluring all-you-can-eat meal for houseflies.
Clean up any residues or spills quickly and completely. Don’t just wipe with a paper towel. Instead, use soap and water to eliminate the residue you can’t see—but flies can.
Relocate and empty garbage cans.
Your placement of outdoor garbage cans can make a significant difference in the number of flies that slip inside. Ensure your garbage cans aren’t too close to the back door and keep them hosed out and clean to prevent intruders from gathering and sneaking inside.
Also, empty your indoor garbage cans every day or two, especially in the kitchen, to prevent them from becoming housefly nurseries.
Decorate with plants.
Herbs – Consider growing fly-repelling herbs in your kitchen window. Basil, rosemary, mint, and bay leaf are all good candidates. You may also want to hang dried sprigs of these varieties in your kitchen to send a more convincing “go away” message.
Flowers – Lavender, marigolds, and tansy are known for their pretty flowers and their fly-repelling properties. (If you have pets, be sure any indoor plants you use to hinder pests can’t harm the animals you love.)
3. Eliminate Them
Once you have a fly problem, you need to find a way to remove them. There are several tried-and-true methods to eradicate the common housefly. Here are a few nontoxic options to try.
The classic fly swatter
Fly swatters are effective if you have the time and the inclination to hunt down every fly, one by one, and you don’t mind cleaning up squished fly debris following each successful swat.
But, of course, that’s assuming you don’t have those houseflies that seem to know precisely what a swatter is and disappear any time you have one in hand—only to reappear the second you put it away.
Flypaper traps can be purchased or made at home. (Do a quick internet search for “DIY flypaper” to find several quick and easy methods.)
These strips are effective but far from attractive. They may, however, be an excellent temporary solution for getting the upper hand on a severe fly problem.
Although you can buy a flytrap, it’s super easy to make one using a soda bottle (single serving or 2-liter size).
Remove the top 1/3 of the bottle by cutting around the circumference with a knife or scissors. (The top portion should look like a funnel once it’s removed from the bottom and turned upside down.) Next, drill a small hole in the lid to make it harder for flies to escape your trap.
Add slices of overripe fruit, sugar water, or a mixture of diluted honey or maple syrup to the bottom portion of your bottle to attract those pesky flies. Then, with the top part inverted, slip it inside the bottom section.
Adding water to the trap will help capture flies and drown them, further preventing them from escaping. Unlike sticky flypaper strips, bottle traps can be hidden from view. As long as the smell attracts flies, they will work anywhere.
Handheld electric fly zapper
These battery-operated and handheld versions of a bug zapper look like a small tennis racket and provide a larger surface than a standard fly swatter, with the added benefit of not requiring you to smash the fly—and deal with the resulting mess. If you have kids old enough to handle a zapper safely, you can outsource the fly-hunting task.
Want a more exotic approach? You can purchase a Venus flytrap and let the natural fly-attracting liquid it produces inside its eyelash-like trap do the job. Granted, compared to other methods, this one may leave you feeling like “The Addams Family.” But it is a natural way to reduce the fly population while enjoying an unusual “pet” plant!