You've checked your window screens, you always close the door after you enter your home, and you keep everything clean. Yet still, out of the corner of your eye, you see it: The sudden zig-zagging of a fly. Though we associate these pests with the summer months, house flies actually reproduce year-round and can be an issue regardless of season. It's just that they're way more active during the hottest parts of the year, so a housefly invasion is likelier. (Just add "get rid of houseflies" to your summer to-do list, along with getting rid of carpenter ants and getting rid of gnats.)
Whether a fly followed you in as you walk through the door, got in through a vent or through a hole in a screen, one is all you need for a full-on pest problem. House flies may only live 10-25 days, but can lay hundreds of eggs in that time. Here's how you can get rid of house flies without having to spend your days with a swatter.
Get rid of all potential "fly food."
House flies thrive on the things that make you go "ew." Pet waste, drain gunk (especially if you have a garbage disposal), overripe produce, trash cans, and sticky spills are all common feeding grounds. Stay on top of litter box maintenance, deep-clean your drains, keep an eye on your farmers market haul, disinfect the trash can, rinse out anything you intend to recycle and make sure spills are completely cleaned up. Not-so-gross things, like pet food or a half-empty glass of wine, can also attract flies.
Don't forget to consider outdoor sources of fly fare. Though it's not as high-priority as addressing a potential indoor bug buffet, house flies often take up residence just outside your home and then come in when they spot the opportunity. Eliminate any sources of standing water (make sure to check the gutters), pet waste and rotting wood or plants, then disinfect your outdoor garbage and recycling pails.
Make a DIY house fly trap.
Erlich Pest Control recommends starting with an empty plastic two-liter soda bottle. Cut off the top third (generally, where the top of the label used to be) and set aside. Then, pour something sweet in to the bottom of the bottle to lure in the flies. Sugar water, soda, or juice can work. Next, invert the top of the bottle, rest it inside the bottom portion (seal the edges with tape if needed) and then wait. The flies will be able to get into the trap, but not out. The trap will also work for fruit flies. If it's not attracting houseflies, try adding meat scraps or other old food.
Another option is less labor intensive: Just fill a shallow bowl with about an inch of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar and a drop of dish soap. (If you can add in food scraps, all the better.) The flies will investigate the smell, then drown in the mixture.
Buy a light trap.
According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, house flies are attracted to short wavelength light (like ultra-violet light). Indoor light traps combine ultra-violet light with a secret sticky trap, while outdoor ones generally combine it with a low-voltage electric grid "zapper." Since these types of traps hide the means of trapping flies, they're slightly less gross to deal with than old-school fly paper. Many indoor light traps simply plug in to an outlet. If you do opt for an indoor light trap, make sure you can position it at the height flies like to hang out in (4 to 6 feet off the floor). Place it away from windows if you can, unless you want the new problem of flies buzzing just outside.
When to call the pros.
The faster you can get rid of a house fly, the better. (Remember, you want to kill the fly before it lays its eggs.) If you've tried these methods and still have an unwelcome housemate (or many), call in an expert as soon as possible. They'll assess potential areas in and outside of your home that could potentially be breeding sites, then apply insecticide or leave out traps, whichever is applicable to the house fly situation in your home. In the meantime, perhaps memorize a few summer quotes to keep you calm.
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