House Flies: Identify Them | Find Them | Get Rid Of Them

by | Flies, Insects

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House flies often take over our yards and homes during the warmer months. But what exactly are house flies?

House flies have red eyes, short antennae, and are covered in short hairs. They are the most common fly found where people live. These flies usually enter a house looking for food or a better temperature, then they sit on food or walls, try to get out of closed windows, or hide in trash cans.

Below you’ll find out how to identify house flies, if they can harm you or your family, and how to get rid of house flies once you know they are active in your home or yard.

How to identify house flies

Photo of a house fly with labels to identify a house fly
To identify a house fly, look for red eyes, short hairs on the body, short antennae, and lines running down the back of the fly’s chest area.

The following table gives a list of characteristics on what to look for to identify a house fly:

Known asHouse flies
ColorGray, black
Average length1/4 – 9/32 inches (6 – 7 mm)
Description – Red eyes
– Gray or black chest, with dark lines running down the back of the chest area
– Body covered in short hairs
– 1 pair of clear wings
– Short antennae
Flight patterns – Flight looks erratic: House flies tend to fly in a straight line then make sudden 90° turns. This helps them smell out food and avoid being caught by predators or swatted to death
– Can fly 1 to 2 miles (1.6 – 3.2 km) at a time without resting
Eggs– White eggs
– Laid in batches of 75 – 100 on decaying matter, like feces or rotting food
– Worm-like larvae called maggots hatch from the eggs and later turn into flies
Attracted to / Where to find house flies – House flies are attracted by food, sugary substances, garbage, rotting matter, and feces
– Indoors, house flies are usually found by windows, on walls, in or near trash cans, by pet food, in garages
– Outdoors, look for house flies near garbage bins, in long grass, by compost piles, and wherever there is animal feces
Breed – Usually breed outdoors
– Will lay eggs indoors if they find somewhere moist with decaying matter for the maggots to eat, such as rotting meat in a trash can
Eat – Adults are mainly carnivores, eating dead animals and feces
– Also eat sweet, sugary foods; rotten fruits and vegetables; milk
– Eat blood if they find it
Most active – During the day
– Can hibernate in winter
Photo of maggots showing them as white worms that will be adult flies within 5 to 6 days
Maggots hatch from the eggs of house flies, and later turn into adult house flies.

Why house flies are called “house flies”

House flies are called “house flies” because they are the flies most commonly found in houses and yards, wherever people live. These flies are a pest and a nuisance in homes across the world, including the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australasia.

If you have a fly problem on your property, it’s more than likely house flies.

House flies spread diseases that make us sick

House flies can’t bite people or pets. But house flies are annoying when invading our homes or buzzing around our picnics and barbeques, and they are dirty insects that carry diseases and contaminate our foods.

Photo of house flies on yoghurt as they vomit and poop on the human food
House flies eat human food, but in the process they spread disease by vomiting infected stomach acids and saliva onto our food.

House flies spend a lot of time in dirty places, living on and eating rotten foods and feces. After doing this, they often find their way into your house and land on your food.

When a house fly lands on food in your kitchen or on your plate, it vomits up saliva and stomach acids. These acidic juices break down and soften the food, so the fly can suck it up. While a house fly is walking around on your food and eating it, it often poops too, especially if it spends some time there.

House flies carry all kinds of micro-organisms in their system, including those that cause over 100 human diseases like cholera, TB, typhoid, and salmonellosis (which causes food poisoning). When a fly vomits and poops on human food that someone eats, the person can become infected with a disease the fly was carrying.

House flies can be useful too

As annoying as house flies are, they do serve some very important purposes in this world:

  1. House flies break down rotting meats and other organic matter, and they form part of nature’s cleanup crew along with snails, dung beetles, and others
  2. House flies pollinate plants and trees, such as the flowers of mangos and avocados
  3. House flies are an important food source for many mammals, insects, fish, and birds

How to get rid of house flies

It can be very difficult or even impossible to get rid of all the house flies in your home and yard because they breed so quickly, but there are many things you can do to bring down the number of house flies.

Below is a list of recommended methods and products from Amazon that you can use to control or lessen the number of house flies on your property:

  • Go through your home and inspect the areas outside your windows and doors. Clean up any garbage, mulch, dead animals, animal droppings, food, or anything else that might be attracting flies. Close any gaps in the walls or roof where flies might be getting in.
  • Buy trash cans with locking lids so house flies can’t get inside, or get a trash can with an odor filter so flies can’t smell what’s in there. You can carry on using the bins you have but stick a garbage guard under the lid. This little device kills maggots and other insects in bins for up to 4 months.
  • Hang sticky fly ribbons or stick these window fly traps to any windows where you see flies trying to get out. These sticky options are a safe, non-toxic way to quickly and easily catch house flies. If you have a serious fly infestation and need a tougher solution, try hanging a few TrapStiks. These are perfectly safe for indoor use and have no odor or chemicals.
  • Make sure there are no holes in your window or door screens. If you like leaving your doors and windows open and you don’t have any fly screens, hang one of these magnetic screen doors or magnetic screen windows to stop flies from coming in. Leave a fan blowing against open windows and doors to stop house flies from getting in.
  • Make sure all alcohol and vinegars in your house are free from spills, sealed tightly, and packed away. Flies are attracted to these substances.
  • Hang these fly traps outside, at least 20 feet from your doors and windows. One of these traps will kill up to 40,000 flies by attracting them to the trap and then drowning them. They are disposable so clean up is quick and easy.
  • Sprays and insecticides are not a good option for killing house flies – the sprays spread poison around your home and flies breed so quickly that they often become immune to any products you use regularly. Instead, keep one of these electric fly swatters nearby to kill flies that fly past you.

I'm Monique. I love gardening and spending time in my backyard growing things. Here's where I share what I know about backyard pests and what to do about them, so you can enjoy your yard too.

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Monique loves gardening and spending time in her backyard, where she grows flowers, succulents, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Monique spends a lot of time researching how to protect her backyard from harmful pests and trying to attract beneficial insects and animals.

She shares everything that she learns and tests here at Backyard Pests.


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