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Houseflies are one type of fly in the insect order Diptera, all of which have one set of wings. They are also known as “nuisance” flies. House flies are about ¼-inch long and gray.
Houseflies are found almost everywhere people live. They lay their eggs on animal feces, garbage, and in rotting organic material.
A housefly infestation may not be a major concern, but it can also spread disease. There are many safe and easy ways to prevent infestations or get rid of them when they happen.
In many cases, housefly infestations are often just a nuisance. However, houseflies can also carry viruses and bacteria that can spread when they bite. Diseases house flies might carry include:
- food poisoning
- E. coli
- typhoid fever
- eye infections
- tropical infection called yaws
It’s possible, and often even preferable, to get rid of houseflies naturally, without pesticides. Potential methods include:
Herbs and flowers
Herbs and flowers can be planted both in your garden and outside to keep flies away from your house. Herbs and flowers that can repel flies include:
As a bonus, some can be used for cooking as well.
Vinegar and dish soap
A mixture of vinegar and dish soap can help you trap flies. To use this method, mix about an inch of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in a tall glass. Cover the glass with plastic wrap. Secure the plastic wrap with a rubber band and poke small holes in the top.
Flies will be attracted to the vinegar in the glass and will fly through the holes. However, the dish soap causes the flies to sink instead of being able to land on the vinegar.
Cayenne pepper and water
Cayenne pepper can help repel houseflies. Mix it with water and spray around the house to deter flies from coming in.
Venus flytraps are carnivorous plants that eat insects. If you plant them outside, they’ll naturally eat flies. Inside, you might need to feed the plant flies.
When a fly gets in the plant’s trap, it closes around the fly. It then secretes digestive fluid to dissolve the insect’s soft insides. It breaks down the insect over 5 to 12 days, then spits out the exoskeleton.
Natural trap bait
You can also use foods or drinks to which flies are attracted in order to entice them into traps. These include:
- sugar (honey or molasses)
In addition to natural ways to get rid of houseflies, you can use insecticides and traps to kill or remove the flies.
Check out the following flytraps available online.
When you have a large housefly infestation, insecticides can be effective because they work quickly. However, they’re not effective in the long term, because flies have short life cycles and will develop resistance. Additionally, the effect of the insecticide goes away quickly.
If you do need or want to use insecticide, pyrethrin-based insecticides are most common for indoor fly infestations. Be sure that you buy an insecticide specifically for indoor use, ventilate the area well, and follow the directions exactly.
Light traps are boxes with a light in the back that attracts flies. When the flies try to get to the light, they’ll either be killed with an electric zap or trapped, depending on what kind of light trap you choose.
Be sure to mount light traps away from entrances and windows, so they can’t be seen from the outside. They should also be mounted within 5 feet of the floor.
Sticky traps are strips of sticky paper that can be hung or laid down throughout your house. They’re not as effective as other traps, but can be added to help remove infestations.
Many natural and other fly repellents can be used outside to keep flies away from your house. You can try planting herbs and flowers such as basil or marigolds around the house, or even plant a few Venus flytraps. You can also use sticky traps outside.
You can also use insecticides outdoors, although flies will still develop resistance to them. Residual pesticides, which remain active for longer than indoor pesticides, can be sprayed around your house.
Houseflies are mainly attracted by material in which they can lay their eggs. This includes:
- rotting material, including food waste and other garbage
- animal feces
Bright lights at night can also attract flies.
The best way to deal with a housefly infestation is to prevent it in the first place. Make sure they don’t have areas to lay eggs and remove things that can attract the flies.
- Make sure your windows, doors, and house vents are sealed properly and free from holes or other damage.
- Use a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid, and take the bag out as soon as it’s full.
- Store food properly in airtight containers.
- Don’t leave dirty dishes or glasses out on the counter.
- Don’t leave grass clippings or leaves out to decay near your house.
- Turn off outdoor lights at night when possible. Flies are attracted to light.
- Avoid using rat poison to kill rodents, because the carcasses can attract flies.
- Clean up animal feces, such as in a cat’s litter box, right away.
Housefly infestations aren’t just a nuisance. They can also be hazardous to your health. By keeping your house clean — especially free from food waste — you can help prevent a housefly infestation.
If an infestation does occur, there are many natural and trapping methods to try.