image of a blow fly

Fly Control: Protect Your Home

Facts

  • Approximately one million species of flies inhabit the world.
  • Since they are such diverse insects, fly infestations can be hard to manage as identification is necessary for proper removal.
  • The most common species residing in our service area include cluster flies, house flies, moth flies, scuttle flies, and vinegar flies.
  • Unclean and associated with disease and decay, flies are known carriers of about six million different bacteria externally and 25 million internally.

Appearance

What Do Flies Look Like?
image of a house fly
Size: The house fly is the most abundant species and grows 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long. While some species grow slightly larger than house flies, most species are tinier. Almost no existing flies measure over an inch in length.

Color: Most species are darkly colored, ranging from grayish-black to lighter gray, though some species appear yellowish-brown to dull yellow.

Characteristics: Universal characteristics include a single set of wings, six legs, and mouthparts ideal for sucking or sponging. Some common species feature bright red eyes, hair covering their bodies, and markings along their thorax.

View images of flies

Call for service: (877) 250-3857

Food

What Do Flies Eat?
Flies earn their reputation for uncleanliness largely because of their diet. The insects feed on:

  • Garbage
  • Animal feces
  • Carcasses
  • Carrion
  • Food wastes
  • Decaying & putrefying organic materials

As a result, flies spend significant amounts of time in sewers and dumpsters.

Biology

Flies begin as eggs and develop through larval and pupal stages before reaching adulthood. Though life cycle time frames and ideal conditions differ by species, most flies deposit their eggs directly into food sources.

House flies, for example, prefer to leave their eggs in horse manure, while cluster flies deposit eggs into areas of soil rife with earthworms, which serve as host animals for the parasitic species.

Fly larvae are commonly referred to as maggots and molt several times before reaching the pupal stage. It can take flies anywhere from one to three weeks to reach full maturity, and they tend to survive several months at most.

Detection

  • Flying: Look for the presence of adult flies around the house
  • Spots: May notice tiny dark spots of excrement on walls, counters, windows, or food
  • Illness: Be alert for household occupants developing prolonged or frequent cases of diarrhea

Problems Caused by Flies

  • The most serious problem associated with fly presence is the spread of diseases.
  • When flies land on any surface, including food ready for human consumption, they secrete liquids from salivary glands and defecate, which often results in disease transmission.
  • Flies can carry diarrhea, dysentery, E. coli, anthrax, cholera, leprosy, polio, rotavirus, and salmonella. Additionally, houses infested with flies are stigmatized as uncleanly.

Signs of Infestation

  • Sightings: Consistent sightings of adult flies around the house usually means an infestation is present.
  • Available foods: The existence of overripe fruits, rotting bags of potatoes or onions, easily accessible trash, or sewage leaks in addition to adult fly sightings almost certainly indicates fly problems.
  • Droppings: Depending on the species, homeowners may find clusters of overwintering flies around windows on sunny winter days, dark and tiny spots of excrement on windows, counters, and walls, or heightened illness among members of the household.

Prevention Tips

The two most effective methods of fly prevention are:

Sanitation
Sanitation involves limiting food sources:

  • Trash – Make sure all indoor and outdoor trash bins have tight lids.
  • Organic Waste  – Do not let manure, grass clippings, weed piles, or other decaying organic materials accumulate.
  • Plumbing – Clean drains and sewage pipes frequently.
  • Fruit – Remove overripe fruits and rotting tubers as soon as they start to spoil.

Exclusion
Exclusion involves limiting entry points:

  • Screens – Homeowners should install window and door screens
  • Cracks – Caulk or plug cracks in walls and foundations.
  • Holes – Find adequate screening for ventilation holes.

Tips for Removal from Home

  • Call an expert: If flies have already infested a home, the help of a pest control professional is typically needed.
  • Food & habitat removal: Targeting the food sources and probable harborage sites of flies is integral to effective removal of infestations.

As professionals have knowledge of the habits of various fly species, they are the only people equipped to efficiently eradicate infestations of the pest.

Fly Prevention: Keep Flies Away

With flies, prevention starts outside by eliminating areas where they tend to breed and then using simple methods to keep them out of your house:

  • Put a lid on it: Flies love the allure of rotting garbage. It not only provides ample food, but is a great environment for breeding.
  • Scoop the poop: Keep your yard clear of animal feces by making “poop patrol” a consistent – and frequent – household maintenance task.
  • Leave ’em high and dry: Eliminate sources of pooling water to avoid creating stagnant patches of water where flies will breed.
  • Cover your drains: Indoors and out, make sure drains are kept clean and fly-free.
  • Seal up: Apply caulking to cracks around windows and doors, and ensure that your screens fit properly and are free of rips and holes.
  • Trap those that remain: As a last resort, fly paper and electric light traps can kill flies that manage to bypass your prevention efforts. These can be unsightly. Consider a classic fly swatter as your best bet against any stragglers.

Hidden Dangers of Flies

Most of us don’t think of flies as much more than annoying bugs that require an occasional swat and good screens on the windows to keep them out of the house. But they can cause bigger problems than an irritating buzzing noise, potentially carrying diseases such as:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Typhoid
  • Dysentery
  • Diarrhea
  • Other food borne illnesses

Fly Dangers and Health Hazards

The mechanics of how flies spread disease isn’t pretty. They frequent areas where they can find rotting garbage and human or animal waste, and then carry germs from those areas to the food we eat.

Flies actually vomit and leave excrement on what they eat so between what they carry on their bodies and what they leave behind from within their bodies, taking necessary precautions to keep flies out of your home and food is well worth the effort.

Fly Prevention

Flies come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from tiny fruit flies, to the common house fly, to biting flies such as deer and horse flies. Many of the biting species can be hard to control as they thrive in outdoor areas where water and vegetation is abundant.

However, the same precautions you can take to prevent house, fruit, and garden flies may be helpful in preventing these other species as well if you live in an area where they could be a problem.

  • Remove trash frequently and store in covered containers away from the house.
  • Keep the yard and house free of animal excrement. Clean cat litter trays frequently and always remove and discard pet excrement.
  • Repair or replace torn door and window screens.
  • Keep the garbage disposal clean and free of rotting food.
  • Avoid overwatering plants and creating areas of standing water or overly moist soil both inside and outside the house.
  • Cover exposed food and store properly.
  • Clean up spills as soon as they occur.
  • Keep your grass cut low and free of leaves and debris.
  • Avoid using chemical interventions to prevent flies and other pests.
  • Fly strips or other kinds of fly traps may be helpful, but the best thing the home owner can do is to minimize the sources for fly development. This helps cut down on the number of flies that may make their way inside, and hopefully rid you of a few that might otherwise be laying eggs and making way for the next generation.

Western can inspect your home and offer environmentally friendly tips on how to prevent flies through exclusion.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857