House Fly


There are over 16,000 species of flies distributed throughout North America. Here’s how to get rid of them naturally without using toxic sprays.

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The common house fly (Musca domestica) multiplies rapidly and is one of the most prevalent of all insect pests. It has been associated with over 100 different disease pathogens, including salmonella, cholera and tuberculosis, so it is important to manage pest outbreaks.

When feeding, flies regurgitate liquid from the stomach to dissolve food, then use their sponging mouthparts to suck it up. They leave fecal spots, or “specks,” where they have walked, and in this way may transfer disease organisms to humans and animals. In rural areas, flies can be a nuisance when they gather on the outside walls of homes and buildings on summer evenings.

House fly adults (1/6 – 1/4 inch long) are dull gray in color with reddish-brown eyes. They have two membranous wings and four dark stripes down the middle section of their body (thorax). Females are usually larger than males and can be distinguished by the space between their eyes, which is almost twice the distance as in males. The larval stage (3/8 – 3/4 inch), also known as a maggot, is soft, cream-colored and worm-like. They are typically found around rotting organic matter, such as manure piles or garbage cans and are somewhat carrot shaped.

Life Cycle

Females deposit 2-21 egg masses, each containing about 130 white eggs in manure or fermenting vegetation such as grass clippings and garbage. Hatching takes place in 10-24 hours; the young maggots become fully grown in 3-7 days, crawl to the margins of the breeding material and pupate. The pupal stage may vary in length considerably, but in warm weather can be about three days. When adults emerge they begin mating immediately. An entire life cycle; egg, larva, pupa to winged adult may occur in 6-10 days under warm, moist conditions. Adults may live an average of 30 days. During warm weather 2 or more generations may be produced per month.

Note: Flies are known to spread diseases such as conjunctivitis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, anthrax, cholera, diarrhea and dysentery. Here’s how to get rid of flies naturally.

Fly Control

  • Sanitation is the most effective and important step in reducing pest numbers.
  • Dry and wrap organic waste before placing it in the garbage can.
  • Seal garbage cans with tight fitting lids.
  • Screen windows and doors to keep flying pests out.
  • Use indoor traps or sticky tape to manage pests inside the house.
  • Hang The Big Stinky or other pesticide-free traps outdoors near problem areas — barns, kennels, garbage bins — to capture pest flies by the thousands.
  • Follow proper manure management practices to reduce populations in animal facilities such as stables and kennels.
  • Fly parasites are small, harmless (to humans and animals) beneficial insects that nature has programmed to attack and kill flies when the pest is in its immature pupal stage. For best results, release 500 parasites per large animal (horse, cow, etc.) or 5 parasites per cubic foot (manure or compost pile).
  • Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a mild abrasive that works within 48 hours of contact to kill soft-bodied maggots. May also be applied to moist areas where its sorptive qualities effectively reduce breeding sites.
  • Least-toxic botanical insecticides should be used as a last resort. Derived from plants which have insecticidal properties, these natural pesticides have fewer harmful side effects than synthetic chemicals and break down more quickly in the environment.

Tip: Plain boiling water is an excellent (and inexpensive) way to kill maggots in garbage cans.

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