From the first day of warm weather, every homemaker takes up arms against this most persistent form of pest life. Since houseflies do not bite, many people merely worry about them from the point of annoyance.
What’s important to remember though is that they aren’t just bothersome…they’re also highly effective disease carriers.
These insects breed in and feed on rotting animal or vegetable matter, garbage and in both human and animal excreta–all of which are swarming in germs and bacteria. Some of these germs they transport on their hairy legs. Others are nurtured in their digestive tract and are transmitted via its own excrement or discharges through the mouth. Read this article from the BBC about how filthy they really are.
For the sake of cleanliness and health, these nuisances need to be sent packing asap!
Here’s a tip sheet I’ve put together with some helpful advice and ideas for ways to combat them. For the occasional nuisance, a flyswatter or a rolled up newspaper will get the job done just-like-that ;).
If you’re looking for help controlling a larger population, you’ll find some effective DIY solutions here. Good luck!
Prevention Of Breeding
Sanitary disposal of garbage is essential. Use a covered can always, preferably one lined with newspaper to facilitate removal.
Wash out empty beer, gingerale and soda bottles, don’t leave dirty glasses or dishes laying about.
Never leave food uncovered, especially meat, fruit, sweets or preserves of any kind.
Follow the Cleanup & Prevention tips outlined in How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies to make your home as uninviting as possible to these pesky critters.
Repelling & Killing Them Outdoors
Even when everything possible has been done to eliminate breeding places, flies in the home may still be a problem. Here are some tips to repel them and keep them from finding their way inside:
Screens: Screen all windows and doors. Make sure they fit tightly and mend any tears at once. You can patch them with small squares of similar screening or even paste tape over the hole if you’re in a pinch. Never ignore the gaps, as they are canny about finding openings.
Bags Of Water: Hanging clear plastic bags of water near entrances of the dwelling is said to scare them off. Why it works: the liquid acts as a lens and reflects movement and lights. This makes them nervous so when they see something moving nearby, they’ll scram. Source: Lifehacker.
Shiny CDs: Hanging these up too will work just like the bags trick above.
Cotton Balls: Attaching a cotton ball to the middle of an entrance is an old-timer’s method of control. It was believed that the flies are convinced the balls are moths or some predator so they won’t go near the area. Attach the cotton to the screen with a few quick stitches from a needle and thread, then once secured, pull out the cotton to make it big and fluffy. Another option is to hang them over doors and windows.
Cayenne/Hot Pepper Spray: A few ways to make this, combine 1 oz of hot sauce with 12 oz of water. Another option: 1/2 tsp Ground Cayenne per 12 oz water plus a couple drops of liquid dish detergent. Shake well before using and spray around entrances and doors. You can also just sprinkle a generous amount of powdered cayenne around the hot spots.
Garden Plants That Repel Them: Lavender, Basil, Mint, Marigolds.
Getting Rid Of Them Inside
If houseflies have gained entrance into the dwelling, here are some ways to deter them:
Cloves: Pack a halved apple, orange, lime or lemon with a bunch of whole cloves and leave this out in rooms where they seem to gather, they don’t like cloves this will repel them. You could also make an “air freshener” spray with vodka and several drops of clove oil.
Pennies: Place about a half dozen pennies in a clear drinking glass or jar then top with water. For some reason, they don’t like this! Either the copper irritates them or they think the pennies are a predator of some sort (which are magnified by the liquid/glass). Good trick for setting out on picnic tables and around food.
Cinnamon Swipes: Dab cinnamon essential oil around the hot spots in your kitchen, they don’t it.
Flypaper: Can be effective to a certain extent, the idea is to hang strips of sticky paper in areas of the house that will attract the critters so they get stuck on the strips and die (see recipe below for making your own).
Traps: Bait a glass jar with 1 part blackstrap molasses to 3 parts water, fruit or leftover milk. Cover the jar with a lid and poke three holes in it with a nail. They will be able to get into the jar to reach the bait but won’t be able to escape. Here’s a more sophisticated project for making a homemade trap: Instructables.
The common housefly is the most prevalent type found in domestic environments. Other species may be encountered but control measures are much the same for all.
Source: Adapted From Woman’s Home Companion Household Book (1948)
DIY Fly Paper Recipe
*First published July 19, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 TBS Brown Sugar
1 TBS White Sugar
- Combine well then dip strips of brown paper into the mixture. Coat the strips generously and lay them on plastic overnight to set and dry a bit.
- The next day poke a hole in the strip about an inch from the edge and loop a piece of string or twist tie through it. Hang.