Managing Houseflies

Waging war against houseflies can be as easy as keeping a clean kitchen or as complicated as introducing new predators and technologies into your home. Consider the following options:

  • Sanitation: The essential weapon in any war against houseflies is simply keeping your home clean. In doing so, you'll limit the places they can feed or breed. Don't leave uncovered food out, and keep all trash in sealed containers. Likewise, keep the area outside your home clear of uncovered trash, manure and decaying organic matter.

    Venus flytrap
    ©iStockphoto/Vickie Sichau
    A Venus flytrap clamps its jaws around a housefly. To learn more about this botanical choice for housefly management, read How Venus Fly Trap Works.
  • Biological control: Houseflies have no shortage of natural enemies, so why not follow the example of the old woman who swallowed a fly and introduce predators to deal with the problem? Naturally, you don't want to encourage any more fly eaters inside your home than you already have. The one exception is the Venus flytrap, which, if properly cared for, can cut down on your home's housefly population. Outdoors, the options depend greatly on where you live, but you might not want to rid your home of spider webs and wasp nests if you're concerned about flies. Some commercial firms sell a species of parasitic wasp called pteromalidae to farmers. The wasps' larvae feed on housefly pupae and leave the rest of the farm alone.

  • Exclusion: One of the key ways to cut down on the housefly problem is simply to prevent adult flies from entering your home. Keep doors, windows and vents closed, and use screens to let in fresh air. High-traffic buildings sometimes use air curtains in conjunction with automatic doors to keep flies out. When the doors are open, a steady buffet creates a wall of force houseflies can't push through.

  • Physical control: The simplest example of this would be killing flies with a swatter -- though this method is generally unsanitary due to the rupturing and smearing involved. Other methods include the use of fly paper or light traps. Fly paper offers houseflies what seems like a tantalizing, scented treat, forcing them to land and become trapped in the sticky glue. Likewise, water traps lure flies into a jug- or bag-like container. Once inside with the bait, houseflies can't crawl out and eventually fall into the water and drown. But traps can exploit more than just a housefly's sense of smell. Some traps use ultraviolet light to lure them in. The trapped fly is then typically electrocuted against a wire grid, sucked into a dehydration chamber or captured in glue.

  • Chemical control: Generally speaking, the use of pesticides should be used sparingly, especially inside the home. Before you start using poisonous chemicals against houseflies, make sure you've tried fighting the problem with sanitation, exclusion and physical control. A number of housefly pesticide products are commercially available, but be sure to follow instructions and keep in mind the health of family members and pets. Products such as hanging pesticide strips are generally intended only for unoccupied areas such as attics.

For more information about houseflies and how to live with (or without) them, follow the links on the next page.