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House Fly

House fly biology, identification, image, control tips and products for eliminating house flies.
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House Fly Biology and Identification

The common House fly is medium sized (1/6 to 1/4 inch long,) generally gray in color with  the female usually large than the male.   The thorax bears four narrow black stripes.  The female fly has a much wider space between the eyes than the male.  House flies are often confused with Face flies.

The house fly passes through four stages in its life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult.  The female of the species can be seen depositing their eggs on suitable breeding materials.  Often, the females can be seen in clusters of up to 50 individuals.  The female house fly lays individual eggs that pile up in masses of 75 to 150 eggs; in her lifetime, a single female house fly may lay up to 900 eggs.  The female fly begins laying her eggs anywhere from 4 to 12 days from emerging from her pupae.  She may lay 5 or 6 batches at intervals of several days between each.

In warm weather, the leg-less white pupae (or maggots) emerge from their eggs in 8 to 20 hours.  This larvae goes through three instars (or stages of development) in 1 week or less during warmer seasons, up to 8 weeks during cooler times.  The house fly maggot and eggs depend on damp organic material in which to develop and feed.  When it has completed its last instar, the fly maggot will move to a cool dry area in which to pupate.  These larvae have confused many people by showing up far away from any possible breeding site.  They have been known to travel over 100 feet to locate a suitable place to pupate.  The pupa transforms into an adult in as little as 3 days or as long as 5 weeks.  This pupation period varies with temperature and humidity.

House Fly Image

hsfly.jpg (35557 bytes)

Inspecting for House Flies

Your inspection should begin outside the home or building; although house flies are known to breed in indoor dirty trash cans, they are usually found feeding and breeding in fresh manure, rotting fruits and vegetables, damp garbage and damp, decaying organic materials that are located outside of the structure.

After locating all possible breeding sites, look for areas where house flies enter a structure.  Cracks around windows, doors and vents are the usual culprits.

Eliminating House Flies

House fly elimination is accomplished through good integrated pest management (IPM) procedures.  The following steps will rid your home of house flies:

Sanitation for the House Fly

Sanitation procedures not only include the obvious (clean trash receptacles, etc.) but also doing the little things that can help reduce the number of house flies in and around a structure.  Indoors, make sure that all trash cans are thoroughly cleaned before trash bags are used.  All trash bags need to be secured before disposing in an outdoor container.

All outdoor receptacles (dumpsters, trash cans) need to be cleaned regularly; they also need to have properly operating covers -- what good is a trash can without a lid?  If possible, move dumpsters far away from structures.   This will help cut down the number of house flies inside homes and businesses.   Keep the areas around dumpsters as clean and dry as possible; house fly eggs and pupae need damp material to develop and survive.


House flies enter homes by several means: doors which do not close fast enough or that do not have a good fit; windows without screens or with screens in ill repair.  Flies also enter buildings through tiny cracks around windows and doors; seal or caulk these areas.

Space Sprays   Surface Sprays    Pheromone Traps   Fly Bait


Space sprays and pheromone traps can be helpful tools in eliminating indoor Blowflies, but the elimination of their breeding sources is the only guaranteed way to eliminate them.  Make certain that all possible sanitation measures have been implemented before relying on chemical sprays to eliminate flies.  Space sprays can be used to knock down existing house fly infestations, but this is only a temporary fix.  If breeding sites have not been eliminated or altered, house flies will continue to be a problem. 

Surface sprays can be used around windows and doors and should also be used on dumpsters.  Any area where flies "rest" or enter an building can be treated with a good surface spray.  However, do not spray areas that humans constantly come into contact with or on surfaces where food is prepared or served.  The best product for surface spraying is Cynoff WP.


Use baits inside dumpsters and the area around such trash containers, if there are no non-target animals (dogs or children) in the immediate area.  Are there homeless people going through the trash at night?  If so, do not bait inside the container, but bait the area surrounding the receptacle.   Baits should be re-applied after every cleaning or rainfall. 

Summary of House Fly Elimination
  1. Locate and eliminate all possible breeding sites.
  2. Move all trash receptacles as far from buildings as possible
  3. Dispose of all moist garbage, rotting vegetation and animal feces in bags; dispose of bags in proper receptacle.
  4. Keep all dumpsters and garbage containers clean and dry; all dumpsters need tight fitting lids and should be emptied in a timely manner.
  5. Seal all possible entry points to exclude flying pests from homes and businesses.
  6. Spray surfaces around windows and doors where flies are seen resting or trying to enter structures.  Wettable powders such as Cynoff WP are the best for surface spraying.
  7. Use surface spray on  lids and sides of dumpsters and other outdoor garbage containers.
  8. If necessary, use space sprays and pheromone traps indoors to reduce populations of adult house flies.
  9. Fly baits should be placed on or in dumpsters on a regular basis, during fly season.

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