Five Ways To Remove A Fly Infestation From Your Home

Houseflies, cluster flies, blowflies, bluebottle flies, and fruit flies are commonly found inside the home. Some of them are just visitors, but others will live their entire lifecycle indoors if you let them. Flies transmit illnesses such as diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, cholera, and even eye infections.

What are ways to remove a fly infestation from your home, you may ask? Here are five reasons:

  1. Kill them with a fly spray containing pyrethrin
  2. Use sticky flypaper to lure and trap them
  3. Kill them with a fly swatter or an electric bat
  4. Buy an electronic gadget that zaps them with electricity
  5. Install disposable fly traps around the home

The methods listed above each have both advantages and drawbacks, so you might want to use a combination. Each is discussed in more detail below so that you can identify those that suit you best. Always choose the most environmentally friendly ways of dealing with fly infestations.

1. Fly Sprays Containing Pyrethrin

Not all fly sprays have the same ingredients. Some synthetic chemical sprays kill flies on contact, but they are not only deadly to insects. They contain poisons that can kill smaller pets such as birds, fish, and reptiles, and in the longer term, they may even be harmful to humans.

Fly sprays are packaged in two different ways: aerosols and non-aerosols.

  • Aerosols: Comes in a pressurized spray can that ejects toxic chemicals in a fine mist. These can be detrimental to air quality in the home, but they kill flies and many other insects.
  • Non-aerosols: These are slightly more environmentally friendly and often come in a spray bottle with a trigger. They emit fine droplets rather than a mist. These need to come into direct contact with the insect to work and so may not be as deadly as aerosols.

A downside of aerosol sprays is that they can leave poisonous residues on surfaces. If these residues accumulate on furniture, bedding, or kitchen counters that are touched regularly, they can get onto hands, fingers, and food.

Pyrethrins are natural pesticides found in chrysanthemum flowers. Compared to synthetic, chemical insecticides, pyrethrin-based sprays are lower in toxicity and not as harmful to the environment.

Do not be fooled into thinking pyrethrin-based products are harmless, however. They must always be used with caution, especially around pets and small children. Pyrethrins are highly toxic to fish and honeybees. Make sure you read the instructions carefully before using any kind of spray.

2. Sticky Flypaper to Trap Flies

Flypaper, also called fly strip, fly ribbon or fly tape, is less dangerous to the environment than fly spray. It is cheap and traps houseflies and blowflies very effectively.

It usually comes in ribbon form and is hung from the ceiling or rafters. Flypaper is coated with a sweet fragrant substance that attracts flies. It works better with smaller fly populations than large swarms.

The paper is exceptionally sticky and may also come with a poisonous layer. The use of poisons on flypaper is rarer than it used to be, and many only contain non-toxic adhesives.

Flypaper must be changed regularly, and some people find the sight of flypaper encrusted with dead flies disgusting. Because it is so sticky, disposing of flypaper can become messy and awkward. It must also be positioned correctly and loses its effectiveness over time as it dries out or gets covered in dust.

3. Fly Swatters and Electric Bats

Fly Swatters:

Those who hate flies personally derive a great deal of satisfaction from beating them to death. Swatters are one of the oldest fly killers on the market. The fact that they are still around bears testimony to their efficacy.

It takes a degree of determination and skill to kill a fly with a swatter as they are fast, wily creatures that can see you coming. It also rare to kill more than one fly at a time. For fly infestations, it is better to use fly tape, fly traps, or fly sprays.

Houseflies and blowflies have surprisingly tough bodies, so make sure to give them a good wallop. Otherwise, you will find that they are just concussed and get up to fly another day. 

Electric Bats:

Electric bats look a bit like a small tennis racket. They have batteries in the handle and a switch to turn the electric current on and off. The mesh of the bat is electrified when the button is on.

When the mesh makes contact with a fly’s body, there is a satisfying pop as the fly is electrocuted. The advantage of a bat is that you can hit a fly in midair. With a swatter, you usually need to hit the fly while it is perched on something.

4. Electronic Fly Zappers

Electronic zappers lure flies in with ultraviolet light and electrocute them. They come in the form of hanging lanterns or metal boxes that you can affix to the wall.

Zappers are more suitable for indoor than outdoor use because of the large numbers of beneficial insects outside that shouldn’t be killed. They do not discriminate between flies and other insects that are attracted to them. This is a problem because many insects are beneficial to the environment.

A drawback to using one of these is that when a fly is zapped, it explodes, and small bits of the insect can be projected into the air, where they can be inhaled or can contaminate kitchen surfaces and food.

If you use one, it is probably not the best idea to put it in the kitchen. Some people think they are cruel and that there are better ways to eliminate flies.

5. Disposable Fly Traps for Killing Flies

You can buy commercially made fly traps or make them yourself out of vinegar, a bit of sugar, dishwashing liquid, a jar, and a filter. The idea is that the fly is lured into the trap and either can’t get out or drowns in the liquid.

The commercial traps come as a container of some sort that you can hang or place on a windowsill. The fly attractant usually comes as a powder that you mix with water and leave at the bottom of the trap or within it. These traps have to be replaced after a while.

Since fly traps must use bait that attracts flies, they often smell terrible. Some are so bad that you would rather use them outdoors than inside. They are more environmentally friendly than fly sprays, but the downside is you get hundreds of flies floating in the liquid – not a pleasant sight.

Video Demonstration

If you wish to have a visual, here is an excellent video by Home Depot showing what we have discussed above:

Breeding Places Loved By Flies

Flies have a life cycle. The adult lays eggs on a food source, which eventually hatch into maggots. These eat and grow until they form pupae, out of which adult flies emerge. To keep fly numbers down, you need to take preventative measures that address this life cycle.

Maggots are fly larvae that look like small, pale worms. When you see them, kill them with fly spray or a swatter.

Identify and decontaminate favorite fly breeding places in and around the home. Here are some places that are “fly heaven” so to speak:

  • Dustbins
  • Garden compost heaps
  • Accumulations of animal feces
  • Other decaying organic matter
  • Keep your home and garden clean of garbage

Sanitation is the key to destroying fly breeding grounds. In the house, don’t leave food out on surfaces. Keep the bin clean by disinfecting it and regularly taking out the trash. Ensure that outside trash bins close properly so that flies can’t get in to lay their eggs.

Keeping Flies Out

Getting rid of flies is not a once-off thing. Once you have killed the adult flies in your home, you need to take measures to prevent new ones from coming in. Flyscreens on windows and doors are an excellent solution.

Essential oils of lavender, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and peppermint are fly repellants. Put some in a spray bottle with water and spray the house regularly. You can also wipe a little oil onto windowsills and doors.

Flies hate cinnamon and cloves, so use a cinnamon scented air freshener or spike two lemon halves with cloves and leave them on the kitchen counter.


Sound domestic hygiene and sanitation practices can reduce fly numbers. There are many ways to kill flies but if you have an infestation, use insecticides judiciously, paying close attention to the instructions. Choose environmentally friendly methods wherever possible.

Photo of author

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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