Technical Papers

Homeowners Guide to Flies

Monday, January 19th, 2015 by Bill Cowley

Homeowners Guide to Flies  - Image 1

Flies are found across the United States. The three most common types of flies found in New Jersey are the house fly, the fruit fly, and the blow fly. These insects are both annoying as well as potentially dangerous. It is important to understand some basic information about flies so that you are best able to keep them out of your home.

What are the Basic Characteristic of Flies?

The house fly, fruit fly, and blow fly all share common characteristics. All three varieties have six legs, wings, and antennae. They are all oval in shape and are all under an inch long. The flies do have some characteristics that distinguish them from one another:

The Blow Fly (Calliphoridae) is the largest of the three flies, it may grow to be almost a half an inch long. Blow flies are metallic blue, green, or black in color.

The House Fly (Musca domestica) is approximately one-quarter of an inch in size, making it smaller than the blow fly. The house fly is dark gray in color and lacks the distinctive metallic shine of the blow fly.

The Fruit Fly (drosophila) is the smallest of the three flies, at approximately one-eighth of an inch long and is tan with a lighter colored abdomen.

How Do Flies Enter Your Home?

Most flies enter homes through open windows and doors. It is important to make sure that all screens in your windows are in good working order. Make sure to have any rips or tears in the screens fixed quickly. Fruit flies may be brought into the home on over-ripened fruits and vegetables. It is important to properly inspect all produce prior to bringing it into the home. Blow flies enter the home when a dead animal is present. They may enter through broken screens, chimneys, holes in vents, etc.

Why do Flies Infest a Home?

Flies enter homes for one major reason, food. Each of the three varieties of flies have slight variations on the kind of food they are looking for.

Fruit Flies are attracted to ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables. When fruits and vegetables begin to spoil, they produce an odor because the bacteria and fungi on them begins to release certain chemicals. These smells are a repellent to humans but, fruit flies are actually attracted to them. Fruit flies are basically attracted to any fruit or vegetable but seem to have a strong affinity towards ripening, fermenting or rotting tomatoes, melons, squash, grapes, bananas, potatoes, and onions.

House Flies eat milk, sugar, blood, and feces, as well as rotting foods like fruits and vegetables. In addition to food, house flies must have a water source. House flies are only able to feed on liquids. They have adapted the ability to turn many solid foods into a liquid in order to eat it. House flies search out food with the help of their feet; the house fly tastes with its feet, which are 10 million times more sensitive to sugar than the human tongue.

Blow Flies are known to consume decaying flesh. In nature, the blow fly helps in the decay process of dead animals. The flies are sometimes called the “first responders” of the insect world because they arrive within hours, or sometimes even minutes after an animal dies. Unfortunately for homeowners, a sudden blow fly infestation almost always means that there is an animal carcass or decaying waste material in or near the home. A common cause is a break in a sewer pipe or the carcass of a pest animal.

How Can I prevent a Fly infestation in my house?

There are some relatively easy ways to prevent fly infestations in your home. First, make it difficult for flies to enter your home. Make sure your window, door, and vent screens are in good condition. Make sure that when you or other members of your family are opening and closing doors to the exterior of the house they do it quickly. Do not allow any areas of your home to be constantly open to the outside, like a dog-door that doesn’t close or a window without a screen. It is also a good idea to seal cracks and crevices around windows and doors as well as outdoor pipes and vents.

If a fly does get inside your house make it as inhospitable as possible. Make sure to put food away promptly. As soon as a meal is finished dispose of the scraps, wipe down counters and sweep up any crumbs. Make sure that your kitchen garbage can has a sealed lid. House fly control requires a commitment to vigilant sanitation. Make sure to remove trash regularly. If there are blow flies in your house you should practice increased measures. Blow flies are attracted to rotting flesh so check your mouse traps often and remove any mice immediately. A wildlife specialist may be necessary if you are unable to locate the dead animal pest in your home.

Lastly, make sure that the area outside of your home is not welcoming for flies. If you have dogs or other animals that spend time outside, remove their feces from the yard as quickly as possible. It is also important to be cautious where you clean out your garbage cans. If you rinse your garbage cans and put the waste water onto your lawn you may attract flies. Although compost piles are good for the environment and your garden they can also attract flies. Make sure to keep the pile away from your home.

Should I Act Quickly if I see flies in my House?

Yes. Flies can multiply quickly which means the longer you wait the more flies will be spreading disease around your home. Houseflies can go through their entire cycle in as little as seven to ten days which means they can have up to twelve generations in just one summer. In addition to being an annoyance, house flies and blow flies spread disease. Each time a fly comes to rest on an area, it quickly regurgitates its food and excretes fecal matter onto the object. If the object it lands on is your food, it is possible for the fly to transmit over one hundred different kinds of disease-causing germs. If you have a persistent fly problem or a heavy infestation in your home you should contact a pest control specialist to remedy the problem.