Get Rid of Flies

Whether you are dealing with the odd housefly or a full-on blowfly infestation, you will want to get rid of flies from your home.

Flies spread disease

Flies are bad because they ooze bacteria and viruses wherever they go. The fly that you now see buzzing around your lounge room was probably muck-deep in a pile of excrement just a few minutes ago.

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Everything that fly touches, including the air around it, is being contaminated by millions of micro-particles and up to 150 different types of bacteria at once. Flies are the perfect disease vector: they pick up pathogens from unhygienic places and spread them everywhere.

Do not put up with them! Read on to find out how to get rid of them and how to stop them from infesting your home in the first place.

Sections:

Kill Flies Naturally

Repel Flies Naturally

Kill Flies with Chemicals

Repel Flies with Chemicals

Lifecycle of Flies

What Attracts Flies?

What do Flies Eat?

Fly Species

Kill flies naturally

Unless you are facing a proper infestation, we suggest that you start with these natural DIY solutions:

Traps

Fly traps can be highly effective in the home or even outdoors. The main advantages of traps are that they remain effective for long periods and can be made cheaply at home. The main disadvantage is that they are not pleasant to look at or smell. A good trap will soon become a mass grave of rotting fly corpses.

Funnel Traps

The basic concept of a funnel trap is that you make a container which is easy for a fly to enter, yet difficult to exit. Liquid bait in the trap first attracts the fly in, then kills it through drowning when the exhausted fly eventually buzzes into it.

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You can make a funnel out of many different things, including a scrap sheet of paper rolled into a cone. It is even possible to get decent results without a funnel, or even a cover!

We recommend this easily made funnel trap:

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To make the trap, simply cut a plastic bottle in half, flip the bottleneck into the bottom half and tape it in place. Make sure to remove the bottlecap before you tape it up. Empty coke bottles work well for this purpose. Done properly, you will have made a funnel leading into a trap. Flies will fly or crawl in easily, but they will batter themselves to exhaustion when they try to fly up and out against the insides of the trap.

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Now, give flies a reason to enter their death-trap by adding liquid bait into the trap. There are many possible “secret” recipes for a good bait including combinations of wine, apple-cider vinegar, honey, milk, pepper, and jam. Our preferred bait is a simple 1:1 ratio of sugar and water, with a squirt of dishwashing liquid.

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Put enough bait in so that the gap between the bait surface and the end of the funnel is less than two finger-widths (about 3cm). Place the trap where you expect flies to be, then monitor progress.

After a few days, you may want to dispose of your trap thoughtfully. It is likely to have become a biohazard as bacteria and fungus from the deal flies will have turned the bait into a sticky soup of pathogens.

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DIY Fly Paper

Flies can walk on walls and ceilings and windows because their feet come equipped with sticky pads called pulvilli. Pulvilli are just sticky enough to support the body-weight of the fly without sticking too fast so that the fly cannot get unstuck with a bit of effort.

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But what happens when pulvilli stick to something that is already sticky? They get stuck fast! You can take advantage of this foot feature by making fly paper which will both attract and trap flies with a sugary surface.

To make fly paper, dissolve two parts sugar with one-part water over low heat in a pot, stirring continuously.

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Then, submerge pre-prepared strips of thin cardboard or thick paper into the solution. Remove the strips after they are completely soaked and allow them to dry.

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Once dry, your fly paper strips are ready for use. Use tape to hang them from the ceiling or suspend them from a cord strung across the room.

Try not to touch the fly-encrusted strips when you are ready to replace them, for obvious reasons!

Carnivorous plants

Insect-eating plants like Venus Flytraps are an option for rooms that sometimes get the odd “fly-by”. In truth, these plants do not offer a practical solution to flies, but they may help to maintain a fly-free home in combination with other options.

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Venus flytraps are carnivorous plants that naturally eat insects to supplement their nutritional requirements. Their traps contain an attractant which lures flies in. The trap closes before digestive juices are squirted onto the insect to release nutrients.

The process of digestion takes about ten days, so do not expect any of your bug-eating plants to chomp through more than 5 flies per month.

Weapons

Physical weapons are the last line of defence against flies. We do not recommend that you use weapons as your only fly control method, because they are generally inelegant and unhygienic.

The function of a physical weapon is to disable the fly’s optimum life functions by inflicting a debilitating kinetic blow on its body in some way.

The oldest and grossest fly-killing weapon is the appendage you will find attached to your wrist. Yes, you could use your hand to swat, squash, or trap flies. However, if you want to kick things up a notch, try these options.

Fly Swatter

The classic and obvious weapon: the fly swatter. Purpose-made unpowered swatters are generally long-armed implements with a perforated flat paddle at one end and a handle at the other.

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They also come in electrically powered variants, where batteries are used to run a current through the paddle to that near-misses and weak contacts will still result in fly death.

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Of course, other household or home-made artifacts like spatulas, rolled up magazines, twisted dish towels and badminton racquets can also be used. The most effective approach to using a swatter is to slowly move into position when the fly has landed on a surface.

Do not strike as soon as it lands. Instead, give it a second or two to settle down and start preening or feeding. The extra microsecond needed to put all its legs down before lift-off will give you the edge you need.

Then, use a quick wrist motion to whip the swatter down in a tight arc. Try to ensure that the paddle comes down from above the fly, rather than from an oblique angle. The fly would prefer to fly straight up to get as much empty space around it for manoeuvres, so limit its options with a “death from above” tactical strategy.

Remember to clean up after a successful kill. The weapon should be sanitised, and the fly corpse should be carefully disposed of.

Projectile weapons

There are various commercially available, and DIY projectile weapons made for the purpose of killing flies. Most of these weapons are novelty “toys” or makeshift contraptions made by desperate victims of fly invasions. None of them are really a serious solution, but they can be a useful supplemental tool.

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The advantage of these weapons is that you can kill from a further distance than you can with a swatter. The disadvantages are that they are generally less accurate, require more maintenance and are often cumbersome to use in an instant. Unless you are specifically taking time out of your day to stalk flies, you are unlikely to be strapped for action whenever flies attack.

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Nevertheless, some people get an undeniable thrill from busting a cap on a moving target. The most popular projectile weapons are rubber-bad powered slingshots and compressed air guns which fire rubber suction caps or salt.

The crudest projectile weapon is a hand-thrown missile like a small cushion, whilst the most human injury-causing is a rubber band stretched between two fingers.

Suction tools

Flies can be sucked into a standard vacuum cleaner or purpose-made bug vacuum. To use a vacuum cleaner against flies, simply turn it on and then close enough to the fly with the nozzle, and it will be sucked in.

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Do not cut the power until the fly is well and truly trapped in the dust chamber, or it will simply fly out the same way it came in when the suction stops. Purpose-built fly vacuums incorporate a no-back flap which prevents this from happening.

The most effective way to use a suction tool on flies is in low-light or red light. Flies do not use the same light spectrum as we do for vision, so it is possible to catch them unaware at night in the light of a red filter. For example, you might be able turn the lights off in the kitchen whilst leaving some small appliance’s light on. After your eyes adjust, you may see flies calmly resting on the ceiling and walls. Use one of the extended nozzles on your vacuum cleaner to simply hoover them up. They probably wont even move as you methodically solve your fly problem.

Repel flies naturally

It is possible to maintain a no-fly in your home by repelling flies, rather than killing them. There is an old saying which goes something along the lines of its better to win the war by not having to fight the war in the first place. If there are no flies in your home because they are effectively dissuaded from entering it, you will not have to kill any of them!

Natural ways to repel flies are:

Cleanliness

Your first line of defence against flies is cleanliness. Flies need four things: 1) something to feed on, 2) a mass of rotting organic matter to lay their eggs in, 3) a sheltered place to pupate in and 4) somewhere safe to hang out at night. You can reduce the first three things they need by systematically cleaning your home.

Food Waste

It is important to clean up any food mess quickly. It takes a second for a fly to land on a crumb, vomit some digestive juice on it, then suck up the resultant nutrition. Best practices include: Clean food spills up as soon as they happen. Wash the dishes right after your meal. If you have a sink disposal unit, use it. If not, bag your food waste and put it in a covered waste bin. Leftovers need to be covered in clingwrap and stored in the fridge.

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Rubbish Bins

Rubbish bins and the area immediately surrounding them are high-risk fly infestation spots. Flies often lay their eggs in and around rubbish bins, so it is essential to have them emptied regularly and cleaned periodically. If possible, try to make sure that everything going into your bin is bagged to prevent sticky waste from clinging to the lid and inside surfaces.

A sure sign of fly breeding activity is a bin area buzzing with flies. Check the lid – you are likely to find fly pupae stuck to it, and possibly wriggling maggots in the moist stuff.

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Pets

Pets and livestock attract flies, so if you have pets in your home you will need to take extra care with cleanliness. Dog poo and cat litter are magnets for flies, so make sure that you are cleaning all messes quickly. The scent of an uncleaned rabbit hutch or chook coop on a hot summer’s day will bring flies in from all directions. Dog kennels, cat castles and pet rugs require regular cleaning because they accumulate hair, dead skin cells and other organic waste which slowly rots to release fly attractants.

Wash pet bowls which contain uneaten food (even small traces), or they will lure the flies in. The general rule with all pet-related paraphernalia is, if you can smell your pet on it, so can flies. Clean everything so that it smells like wood or plastic or whatever it is made from.

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Plumbing and drains

Bad plumbing, slow-flow drains and unclean pipes are irresistible to flies. Some types of flies like nothing better than to find a clogged drain to lay eggs. The sheltered, moist, waste-rich environment is perfect for the eggs, maggots and pupae which will thrive for many fly generations until the drain is unclogged, flushed, and disinfected. If you have any slow-running or blocked plumbing in your home, get it taken care of as soon as you can.

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DIY Repellents

There are many options for the person who does not want to use commercial chemicals to repel flies. Whilst these repellents are not likely to be as effective as the commercial options all of the time, they are usually more environmentally friendly and less irritating.

Plants

Certain plants have an undeniable repellent effect on flies. The plants release natural repellent chemicals (esters) into the surrounding air as they grow and develop. If you are a competent gardener and enjoy experimenting, try planting mint, basil, marigold, and lemongrass (citronella) in fly-prone areas of your home. These plants are said to be the most effective at making flies make a U-turn at your door.

Conversely, some plants attract flies by releasing chemicals which bring the flies close. If you are an avid gardener with a fly problem, you might want to uproot your fennel, dill, and parsley.

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Essential oils

Staying with fly-repelling chemicals derived from plants, you can make your own repellent sprays with essential oils. Simply add one-part essential oil to three parts water and a spoon of salt to a spray bottle, shake and you are good to go. Many different essential oils will do the job, but tea-tree, eucalyptus, and citronella (lemongrass) seem to be the most effective.

Spray the essential oil into the air, and flies will be dissuaded from buzzing around the area for as long as the droplets linger.

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