How To Keep Flies Under Control
Flies buzzing around your house can definitely be a nuisance. Learn how to get rid of flies.
Fly removal methods
Most people do not like flies. In houses, and outdoors, seeing these pests hovering on or near your food and drinks is an unwelcome sight. However, there are thousands of species of flies in the world. Some types of flies are capable of biting, while others are merely bothersome. Additionally, flies are linked to the spread of typhoid fever, dysentery, diarrhea and food poisoning.
Flies commonly found in and around homes include the house fly, little house fly, blow flies, flesh or latrine flies, fruit flies and stable flies. In some parts of the United States, species of bottle fly are also common. Unlike the other species of nuisance flies, stable flies are able to bite.
If you have a fly problem, there are multiple methods for fly control, but how to kill flies is not always the same as how to get rid of flies.
Know your enemy
Fly control methods for these pests vary depending on the time of year. Fly removal techniques that work in summer months, are not always effective when the weather grows cold. Additionally, views on the best ways to get rid of flies differ as well.
One thing that doesn't vary is the fact that during the summer, fly populations tend to skyrocket. One of the most effective methods of fly removal is eliminating their breeding grounds. According to Philip J. Hamman at the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, here is how to remove flies outdoors in the summer:
"Since flies feed and lay eggs in areas such as garbage cans or dog kennels which are sources of food odors, cleaning these areas eliminates the problem. Also control low fly numbers by using a residual insecticide spray to treat surfaces where flies usually rest. … For fast knockdown and killing flies, but no residual control, some aerosol fly sprays are available which contain synergized pyrethrins, tetramethrin or resmethrin (also called SBP-1382). These are appropriate for fast results and safe application around people, pets and food before or during picnics and outings. These insecticides sometimes temporarily repel other flies from the treated area."
In winter, Hamman recommends properly sealing cracks in the walls or flooring of your home, screening entry points and considering the use of a spray insecticide designed to repel flies. Overwintering flies will look for entry points so that they can hide in wall voids or attics and wait for warmer weather.
Screen your callers
The most effective ways to keep flies out of your home are properly cleaning and maintaining outdoor garbage cans and pet foods, and making sure that windows and doors are properly screened off. A factsheet on flies written by W.S. Cranshaw and F.B. Peairs for the Colorado State University Extension focuses on the importance of these methods in fly control. Note their slightly different take on the use of insecticides, especially indoors, mentioning insecticide-resistant flies, a likely reason they recommend an integrated attack:
"Sanitation practices that remove breeding areas are fundamental to the control of filth-breeding flies, such as house flies and blow flies. Remove or cover garbage and clean spilled animal feed and manure. … Screening and other exclusion techniques can be an important management tool for several types of indoor fly problems. Caulk or cover all openings into a home to prevent flies from entering. Do so before flies enter buildings. For example, cluster flies rarely are found indoors until late winter and spring but typically enter buildings during late August and September. Use insecticides only as a supplement to other controls. Serious problems exist with insecticide-resistant flies and many fly populations are now difficult to control with insecticides. Spot treatments applied to areas of high fly activity are most efficient. For example, flies that tend to rest in dark corners can be controlled by applications to these areas. For cluster flies, treat upper stories of building exteriors immediately before the flies move indoors for overwintering. Permethrin is currently the most common insecticide used for fly control and is widely available."
Flush out the source
Perhaps one of the most frustrating fly problems you may face is a fruit fly infestation. These flies multiply quickly, and can seem impossible to remove. This is because once inside a home, these flies are able to reproduce in multiple places. They are commonly found on or near ripe or rotting fruit, dirty trash cans or recycling bins, under fridges and in garbage disposals and poorly-emptying drains. Finding the source of the fruit fly problem may take some effort, according to Michael F. Potter, an extension entomologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
"Once a structure is infested with fruit flies, all potential breeding areas must be located and eliminated. Unless the breeding sites are removed or cleaned, the problem will continue no matter how often insecticides are applied to control the adults. … Potential breeding sites which are inaccessible (e.g., garbage disposals and drains) can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight. If flies are breeding in these areas, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag. After the source of attraction and breeding is eliminated, a pyrethrum-based, aerosol insecticide may be used to kill any remaining adult flies in the area."
Fly control methods that employ preventative techniques and breeding ground reduction should always be tried before the use of a pesticide or insecticide. But if these methods aren't working – don’t fly off the handle. Call a pest management professional to help you choose the fly removal option that is best for you and your home.