Discover everything you need to know about flies in our guide below.
What Are House Flies?
House flies (scientific name Musca domestica Linnaeus) are nuisance pests that, as their name suggests, are common in homes. Some of the oldest pests in the world, house flies evolved to live close to humans and can be challenging to get rid of in residences, commercial buildings, and multi-family housing units.
The Behavior, Diet, and Habits of House Flies
The common housefly is one of the most populous pests in the world.
House flies can be identified and differentiated from other flies by the presence of a fourth wing vein and four dark stripes that run lengthwise down the top of the thorax. Their bodies are dark in color and range from ⅛”-¼.”
House flies reproduce rapidly, with females beginning to lay eggs when they’re just a few days old. In total, females lay 5-6 batches of 75-100 eggs each. Within 12-24 hours, the eggs hatch into larvae, which grow and pupate for 4-7 days in warm climates.
What Damage Do House Flies Cause?
House flies are best known for spreading disease and spoiling food.
In addition to being a nuisance pest, house flies transmit more than 100 different disease organisms, including typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and tuberculosis.
House flies are closely associated with these diseases because they live in and feed on filth, including rotting meat, feces, and sewage.
When they leave those filthy areas and land on food in your kitchen, for example, they regurgitate their stomach contents on the surface of the food to liquefy it and prepare it for consumption. In the process, they spread dangerous pathogens and contaminate surfaces.
House flies also lay their eggs in moist organic matter that will support the development of larvae. Indoors, this may mean that flies lay eggs in ripe fruit on the countertop, plant matter, or other materials.
How to Get Rid of House Flies
Because house flies are so common, it’s virtually impossible to eliminate them entirely. That said, it is possible to limit their presence in your home. The first step in house fly control is good sanitation.
To control house flies, remove the food and organic materials flies feed on and lay their eggs in.
This means storing produce in the refrigerator rather than on the countertop, keeping drains and garbage disposals clean, and keeping household trash in durable trash cans with tight-fitting lids. You should also reduce moisture sources like damp household plants and leaking drains, pipes, and faucets.
In addition to sanitation, you should kill adult flies when you see them (using fly traps and fly paper is an excellent way to do this passively) and seal openings that they may use to access your home. Screens with mesh no larger than 12 to the inch will keep flies out, as will caulk or other sealant along gaps and cracks.
View our comprehensive blog on how to get rid of house flies.
As long as they can find enough organic material to feed on and lay eggs in, flies will not go away on their own. The only way to get rid of them is to remove nesting and feeding sources, kill adults, and practice good sanitation to prevent re-infestation.
To kill flies instantly inside your home, use contact sprays. Contact sprays can be purchased at home improvement stores and are designed to be sprayed directly on adult flies. They’ll kill the fly on contact but will not provide any residual protection. Alternatively, you can use non-chemical options like electrically-charged screens (bug zappers) and insect light traps.
No. Unlike horse flies, house flies only have sponging or lapping mouthparts. Since they evolved to consume only liquid material, they cannot bite people.