Spotting a random fly in your home is pretty normal. But when you suddenly start seeing the buzzing pests everywhere, it’s time to take action.
Technically, flies can breed inside your home, but the odds are pretty high that they’re coming in from the outside, says entomologist Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., an insect research scientist with the University of Florida. Most commonly, flies will make their way in through torn window screens and open doors, and they love to linger around mulch piles (which they breed in) or garbage cans stored near points of entry.
Animal poop can also be an issue, says entomologist Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., Director of Operations Education and Training for Ehrlich Pest Control. “Flies outside breed on decaying organic waste, such as feces or rotting meat,” she says. “If there is a place for these insects to breed, they will continue coming back. The reproduction rate of flies is also extremely high and an adult female can lay hundreds of eggs that develop into adults in as little as seven days.”
How to get rid of flies inside your home
Troyano says you want to prevent flies from entering your home in the first place, so it’s important to keep doors and windows closed when possible, cover food, clear away food debris, and keep trash in tightly sealed lids.
A swatter can be helpful for snagging random flies but there are a few home remedies you can try to catch several of them at once, Pereira says.
✔️Mix apple cider vinegar and dish soap.
Combine equal parts of the two in a small bowl and add a pinch of sugar to the mix. Ideally, the dish soap will have a fruity smell. “The fermented smell from the vinegar can attract flies,” Pereira says. “But the soap is really what will kill them.” The detergent in soap will destroy the flies’ digestive tract and can also break down their cell walls, he says.
✔️Try fly paper.
This is a sticky strip of paper that you can easily string up from the ceiling or wherever the flies are hanging out the most. When flies (or other winged insects) check it out, they get stuck to the paper.
Similarly, you can put eucalyptus oil on hanging paper strips—say, near a window—to repel them, as flies don’t like the scent, says board-certified entomologist Frank Meek, Technical Services Manager at Rollins. This will only repel them though, not kill them.
✔️Create a soda bottle trap.
Take an empty plastic bottle and cut off the top third of it. Put sugar water in the bottom third and then place your cut piece back on top, but turn it upside down so that the top of the bottle is facing the liquid. This way, you’re creating a sort of funnel. The flies will work their way into the bottle, but won’t be able to get back out, Rollins says.
How to get rid of flies outside your home
Because most flies make their way into your home from the outdoors, Pereira recommends making some changes to your surrounding property.
✔️Move mulch piles away from your house.
Flies will breed in them, Pereira says. If you don’t have that much space to work with, at least try to keep the pile away from doors and windows.
✔️Keep garbage cans well sealed.
Flies are attracted to the scent of fermented and rotted goods, which is why they’re especially into garbage. Keeping your cans sealed and away from points of entry should help, Rollins says.
✔️Clean up after your pets.
“Not only are feces a perfect breeding places for flies, they may land there before landing on your food,” Troyano says.
✔️Spruce up your lawn with plants.
Certain plants, like basil, lavender, and mint, may actually help repel flies and other pests, Troyano says. Again, they just don’t like the smell.
When to call a pro about your fly problem
Unless you have a fly infestation in your house (which is pretty rare), Pereira says it’s important to do fly control on the outside of your home and then do your best to keep them from floating their way indoors.
But if you feel like you are constantly seeing flies, they’re extremely bothersome, and home remedies aren’t working, it may be time to call in a professional exterminator. “Your local pest management professional is trained to help manage flies and similar pests,” Rollins says. “Since every home is different, your provider will design a unique program for your situation.”
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