How to Get Rid of Flies

Flies are able to thrive in human environments and reproduce very rapidly. They are also capable of spreading many diseases. House flies, fruit flies, and gnats are common invaders and responsible for annoying millions of homeowners each year. The black house flies you see inside have a lifespan of about 15 to 30 days, and a flight range that extends a quarter of a mile from their place of birth. House flies will spit when feeding. The saliva breaks down solid matter into a liquid form that they are able to suck up and digest. Much of a fly’s brain capacity is dedicated to threat perception and survival, making them difficult pests to swat and control.


Maggots represent the housefly larval stage and appear as white grubby worms. Maggot populations can be found in areas with lots of filth, primarily garbage bags, trashcans, recycle bins, and dumpsters. Flies rely on filth and decomposition for reproduction. Animal waste around the home could also be the source of maggot activity. Because maggots are slow crawling, they are easy to spray and kill on direct contact. The appearance of maggots is indicative of breeding houseflies.

Getting Rid of Flies

Flies in the house can indicate a problem with sanitation. Because they thrive in areas of filth, a visual inspection of the home is strongly recommended. Garbage cans should be cleaned out and emptied, dishes should not be left in the sink and the garbage disposal may require cleaning as well. Exposed food items like fruits and vegetables should be stored in containers or refrigerators. Even people with spotless homes will get flies in the house through opened or poorly sealed doors and windows.

Flies in the House

Getting rid of flies in the house can be done by combining sanitation efforts and trapping techniques. Liquid traps specifically designed to catch flies are sold at various retail outlets for use on the outside of the home. If they are used, they should be strategically placed at least 10 feet from the home to not attract any indoors. You can easily make your own fly traps:

Homemade Fly Trap

  1. Cut a 2 liter soda bottle in half, placing the top end upside down in the bottom portion.
  2. Fill to about one inch full with soda or sugar water for bait.
  3. Place in an area with little food competition. Flies that enter are unable to escape.
  • Bags filled with water DO NOT deter house flies. This is an old wives' tale with no scientific evidence to support its efficacy.
  • Animal waste should be cleaned daily. Flies can travel over a quarter of a mile to find food. They will absorb nutrients by feeding on dog poop, dead animals, garbage and other wastes.
  • All doors, windows, and screens should be properly sealed or caulked. Consider getting a screen door installed if you enjoy having the doors open.

There are many other ways to kill, trap, or deter flies. Burning citronella candles can be used to ward off flies at an outdoor barbecue. Flies will avoid areas with heavy air circulation as it can make it difficult for them to land. If you do decide to make your own fly traps, make sure they are placed in the areas with highest activity and adjacent to any garbage containers.

Professional Fly Control

Insecticides should be used as a last resort in house fly management programs and can be purchased or found at grocery stores. The use of pesticides against flies should only supplement the sanitation and baiting efforts listed above. Make sure you read the label prior to conducting any treatment.

  • Search and destroy. Vast amounts of flies inside can be eliminated by looking and spraying in the right places. They prefer sunny or well lit areas like around windows and ceilings. Spray around dumpsters and recycle bins as well.
  • Treat around doors and windows inside and out. Make sure you cover all the points of entry and that everyone in your home is keeping the windows and doors shut.
  • Foggers may be used as a last resort. Foggers are self-releasing aerosol cans that are designed to treat large spaces. These products do not last very long but it's not recommended because it covers all of your furniture in pesticides. Countertops should be wiped if used in the kitchen and all dishes and food items should be removed.

Remember to always read the label before using a product to spray for flies. Sometimes there are specific limitations on where and how each product can be used, especially when fogging - aerosols are flammable so gas lines and pilot lights should be turned off prior to treating large areas.