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How to get rid of flies, according to an entomologist

Nix the pesky critters from your home once and for all.
Fly detail on the photo
Fly sit on the tableLivi Petrova / Getty Images

Nobody enjoys dealing with a bug infestation — and house flies are no exception. Not only is it gross to have a swarm of uninvited flies gathering around your kitchen, but they also create health concerns. 

“House flies do not bite, but they are capable of transferring more than 100 different pathogens, including salmonellosis, typhoid and tuberculosis,” says Dr. Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., a board-certified entomologist and Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). “House flies contaminate food surfaces by spreading disease organisms picked up on their legs and mouths when feeding on trash, feces and other decaying substances,” he adds of the two-winged creatures (most insects have four). And file this one under no fun: Even though house flies have short lifespans, “they can quickly reproduce in large numbers, leading to large house fly populations if not identified and effectively controlled,” says Fredericks. 

On the bright side, you may be pleased to learn that there are some proactive steps you can take to deter flies from moving into your home sweet home. Ahead, here’s how to eliminate house flies from your property — and stave off their arrival in the first place. 

When do flies tend to arrive in your home?

Unfortunately, house flies are just about everywhere. Fredericks says these insects can be found throughout various regions of the U.S., so your location likely isn’t immune, but there is a seasonality to their most active times of year. “Warm spring, summer and autumn months are the worst time of year for house flies,” says Fredericks. “Once temperatures consistently drop below 50°F, houseflies become much less common.”

How to get rid of flies 

First: Grab your cleaning gloves. Then check interior garbage rooms and compactors, which provide a suitable environment for house fly breeding sites, per Fredericks. “If the breeding site is not thoroughly cleaned or removed, these pests will continue to be a problem,” he says.

Once you’ve disposed of the breeding site (or done a deep cleaning of it), eliminating the existing adult flies is the next step, says Fredericks. “A pest control professional will develop a house fly treatment plan based on the circumstances of the infestation, which may include the use of fly bait, applications or traps.”

One common remedy to attract and kill house flies is to place a mixture of vinegar with a few drops of dish soap near the house fly infestation. They will fly to the bowl and drown there. (RIP.)  

How to keep flies away 

There’s no day like today to develop some best practices for keeping house flies out of your home. “In order to prevent a house fly infestation from happening in the first place, vigilant sanitation is a must,” stresses Fredericks. “Regularly removing trash and using well-sealed garbage receptacles can help to deter any new house flies from loitering around waste bins.” Fredericks shares these additional guidelines:

  • Clean up pet waste immediately. 
  • Keep garage doors shut. Often, flies will enter garages — where trash cans and recycling are kept — and continue into the living space of the home as people enter.  
  • Install screens on doors and windows. Since house flies enter homes from outside, make sure doors and windows have screens to prevent entry. If window screens are already present, make sure there are no rips or tears.

When to call on the pros

You’ll want to employ the help of a professional if flies are a repeat issue in your house and the above measures aren’t helping — or the situation seems to be getting more severe. “If an infestation has developed inside the home, contact a qualified pest control professional to evaluate and assess the severity problem and help to identify the access points for this pest,” says Fredericks.