Parent Q&A

  • FLIES ... so many flies

    (10 replies)

    We recently put an awning over our back porch for shade and rain protection.  Soon thereafter, our back porch and entire back yard area is SWARMING with flies - big fat house flies and those little black house flies that fly around in jerky circles all day long.  We have a garden with dirt and vegetables, and the flies seem to be breeding and sleeping there and spending most days swarming around on our back porch, and when possible, inside our house.  We live in NW Berkeley and do not have pets.  Even though they do not usually land on people, the flies are dirty and can carry diseases.  I am a grown-up with some life experience and I have never seen flies this bad, save possibly in a barnyard.  I am grossed out and frustrated.

    The flies are clearly attracted to the environment under the awning.  We have tried excessive fly swatting (tough w/ full time jobs and little kids), diy traps, essential oils and sprays, and fans.  Nothing helps much if at all.  There are hundreds and hundreds and they have totally taken over our yard.  YUCK!  Please help!  Is there anything we can do that is non toxic and will actually work?  Must we remove the new awning?  Thanks in advance for any advice.

    RE: FLIES ... so many flies ()

    Hello - we have a similar problem! I am curious if people on BPN have solutions. It is so frustrating. We even tried getting a bug zapper, but the flies won't go near it. I tried sticky fly paper and traps, cleaned out our green bins with bleach, nothing seems to work. I have the slow jerky fliers in my front entrance way and they always get in the house when I open the door. I always have about 3-5 flies out there. Hope to see if people have suggestions. 

    Living with flies in El Cerrito

    RE: FLIES ... so many flies ()

    Wondering if the awning is catching some rain from our recent showers and providing a place for them to get water? Flies breed where there is food (Compost bins, dog doo, garbage cans, etc.) and water available. Also check your neighbors’ yards. Maybe breeding elsewhere but flying to you for the shade.

    if there is no obvious source for either, I would call a professional exteminator. 

    RE: FLIES ... so many flies ()

    We had this happen a couple times last year and people on BPN suggested there must be something dead, like a rat or something, nearby. We never found one but eventually the flies went away so I think they were right. It's weird that it seems to be the awning attracting them but is there anywhere nearby something could have died, coincidentally?

Archived Q&A and Reviews


How to get rid of circling flies outside our front door?

Oct 2008

Every year during the warmer months, we get a bunch of flies lazily flying in circles outside our front door and making a dash inside whenever anyone opens the door. There is nothing out there, like garbage, that seems like it would be attracting them. I've researched this online and have tried everything suggested, including hanging a plastic bag full of water to supposedly confuse the flies (neither attractive nor effective), fly strips, organic sprays, and grossly toxic sprays . . . nothing seems to work. Any suggestions as to what I can use to get rid of these unwanted visitors? Why are they there in the first place?? Sick of chasing them out of my kitchen with a fly swatter

It depends on the type of fly I think. But ''regular'' house flies are attracted to rotten stuff and sometimes water (in my experience). The only fly trap I've used that was very effective is a little gross and you have to put it downwind of your living structure. If that's not possible it's probably not a good solution.
Here's the DIY: 1 Big glass jug (like a 1.5 gallon E wine jug) (screw top for same jug or similar) small amount of red meat small amount of black paint or black sharpee 4-6 tooth picks = paint the inside of the screw top black = poke holes in the side of the screw top = insert the tooth picks so they're half in/half out of the screw top = put the red meat in the jug = set the screw top onto the jug so the toothpicks hold screw top a little above jug mouth. = Place the jug someplace where the odor of rotting meat won't bother you (but near the flies) This set up will allow flies to smell the meat and enter the ''trap'' - once inside they will tend not to figure out how to get out again and they die inside, feeding the system. (I told you this was gross).
The guy who taught me this system called it ''the Big Stinky'' - but it works amazingly well and lasts a long time. Judiah

Again, I don't know what kind of flies you have but wanted to pass this along. We recently had ''flies'' in our office and it turned out they were fungus gnats living in our house plants. They were truly annoying but were simple to get rid of by letting our plants dry out. See: http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=129=1225844459 Shoo-fly, Don't Bother Me!

Invasion of fruit flies

Dec 2007

Seemingly out of the blue have come The Fruitflies. We cannot locate from where they emanate and are going crazy with these little critters. For every one we smash, seven appear, like some Medusa-like being! Does anyone have any idea how to eradiate them? Our landlord told us to spray the entire house but with young kids/pets and people with allergies here, we think this is not a viable option. Besides they like to hang out up at the top of our cathedral- like ceilings. Please help us give these fruities the booties! Thanks!

I've had similar invasions, and you can deal with it without chemicals, but you will have to take a multi-pronged approach. First, and most obvious, figure out what's attracting them and/or where they are breeding. Scour out the kitchen trash can with hot water and a cleanser of some kind, and allow it to dry completely. If you have fruit sitting out, get rid of it or at least remove the ripe/overripe fruit. My fruitflies were breeding in the compost bin outside and coming in, and it had been a while since I'd added any dry stuff to the bin, so that can help. Then, to catch and kill the flies that are buzzing around the kitchen or other parts of the house, use this old trick. Put some cider vinegar (or balsamic, since it's sweet enough too) in the bottom of an old spice jar. About an inch of the vinegar is enough. Then, make a funnel with some paper, being careful to make the opening at the bottom of the funnel as small as possible. Tape the funnel in place in the mouth of the jar with the pointy part of the funnel pointing into the jar (but don't let it get wet). Put tape along the seam where the funnel and glass meet. Then put your new fruit fly trap somewhere you've seen a lot of fruit flies, and wait. The vinegar attracts the flies, who crawl down the funnel and into the jar to get at it. They can't figure out how to get out, however, and will eventually fall in and drown. After a few days, if you've dealt with breeding site, the existing flies will disappear into your trap, and the house should be fruit fly free. Katie

I have found that 1/2 a bottle of Corona beer, a wedge of lime or two (be generous with the lime and leave some juice on the lip of the bottle) a few drops of Dawn original scent and a little water added - left near where the fruit flies hang out is an effective and non-toxic trap. They fly into the bottle for the lime and beer and sink due to the soap. Dawn is the only one that I've found they can't ''smell.'' Good luck! Christy

Put your fruit in the fridge and get some fly paper ribbon. Most home supply, hardware and even grocery stores carry the non-toxic tubes of ribbon. Hang one up in your kitchen, unroll it, and the flies will be stuck to it in a day or three. Debbie S.

Check out this link: http://www.stretcher.com/stories/03/03jul21b.cfm Also, I find that they're often living in my plants, which according to that site means they're gnats, not fruit flies. I've killed them with a sprayer filled with soapy water (biodegradable dish soap, so it doesn't kill the plants). But since my initial infestation, I put a plant outside for a while if I see any new flies. Seems inhospitable out there, and the plant is clear in a week or two, and I bring it back in. Rahel

Dec. 2003

Help -- we have an invasion of fruit flies and can't find the source. Any recommendations?

There are ideas for getting rid of flies on this page: http://flystocks.bio.indiana.edu/getting-rid.htm Good luck

I read in a newspaper column that one often overlooked source can be the overflow drain in the sink

Under attack by flies outside

Oct 2006

Help, we are under attack by flies! This last summer we were beset by flies. We could not eat outside on our patio because of the hordes of flies that would decend upon us. There were days when I would kill 30 flies in out house, despite having 3 fly-traps scattered around our yard. We strongly suspect that the real source is the neighborhood cats pooping in our yard, but that is just speculation. So I guess I have 2 questions. 1) How do I get rid of the flies, in a reasonably non-toxic fashion, and 2) how do I stop the neighborhood cats from pooping in our yard, short of getting a large dog? I hate to use anything toxic, as our children play out in the yard and we have a large vegetable garden. Thanks! Lady of the Flies

I recently looked into this for my own fly problem. They say that fresh Basil keeps flies away. Maybe you can plant some. Redwood City mom

For your house, i recommend that if you haven't already, you screen all your windows and your doors. The local Screen Mobile could give you a quick estimate and they usually do just fine work. To prevent the source in the first place....For the cats, we stuck little sticks in our newly turned veggie beds and spaced the sticks about 8 inches apart. I think the cats found it too anoying to squat. If your veggie bed can handle it, you can also put plastic netting down. The cats don't like walking on it. You could also try putting in a short cover crop between your vegetables so that less bare ground is avaialble to them. Some folks also use gentle water spray guns to squirt towards the cats when they are in their yards. That keeps the cats less comforatable in your yard, and less likely to hang out and do their business. It also has the added feature of making birds more comfortable in your yard. Gardening Mom

I don't know what you can do about the cat poop, or whether that's the cause (any chickens or nasty compost pile nearby?), but fly traps work great.

You can buy a disposable one, a plastic bag filled with attractant, or make one and fill and refill it with store bought or homemade attractant.

To make trap, get a jar with a metal lid, and poke some 3/16'' or 1/4'' diameter holes in the lid, fill about half full of attractant, and set out in an area not too close to your door or patio, preferably in the sun and where it won't get knocked over. You can hang it in a tree, too.

For homemade attractant, use 1 T. yeast, 1T sugar, and a cup of warm water. Or buy this really great stuff, Safer! fly attractant. It's very effective. Within minutes of setting out a new trap you will catch some flies. The homemade stuff takes a little while to ferment and activate. The Safer! stuff is supposed to be pesticide free and safe to dump in your garden. It seems to contain something fishy, so maybe you could make a good bait with old fish.

The flies get stuck in the trap because they can't climb out of the holes in the jar. When the trap is full, empty most of it but leave a little in there to make the next trap extra potent.

I have chickens, and the Safer! stuff has helped us totally get rid of the flies. sc

Tiny black flies in bathroom sink drain

Sept. 2003

We just noticed tiny black flies that are coming up through our bathroom sink drain and the shower drain, all in the same bathroom. So far, the other bathroom hasn't been affected, so I don't think it's a house-wide issue. I've tried flushing the drain with a chemical cleanser (yuk!), a baking soda vinegar combination, etc. but the bugs aren't going away. The worst is when I'm brushing my teeth and I see one flyng around on the side of the sink...we just don't want them to start multiplying any more than they already have! Anyone have an idea on how to get rid of these pesky little flies? --going buggy

Here's a question and answer from the Bug Man (Richard Fagerlund), whose column appears in the Chronicle's home section (from http://www.fagerlund.addr.com/cockroaches.htm). It may relate to your problem

I have a lot of little gnats in my bathroom. My regular exterminator has no idea what they are or how to get rid of them. I have called other exterminators with the same results. Do you have any idea what they are?

The insects you brought to my office are moth flies. These little flies breed in the overflow drains of sinks and bathtubs. They lay their eggs in the gunk that builds up in these areas. Use a funnel and pour some boiling, soapy water in the overflow drains which will kill the fly larvae and help dislodge the gunk buildup. Subsequently you can pour a capful of bleach in the overflow drains several times a week to prevent a re-infestation of these flies.


Flies swarming in our kitchen

March 2001

We have lots of flies swarming in our kitchen. Looking for ideas on how to get rid of them. I've checked the archives. peggy

I don't like to use insect spray and fly-paper grosses me out. However, I have two methods to deal with flies that swarm in the kitchen and incidentally, they work well on wasps who attack when you try to paint the eaves of your house and on yellow jackets that harass when you are dining outdoors.

Method 1: Get one of those 12 diameter perforated aluminum discs or screens with a handle that are sold in stores for putting over frying pans to prevent splattering. They cost about the same as a can of insect spray. These gismos work marvelously to swap flying insects right out of the air, presuming you are physically able to swing one vigorously as one would wield a tennis racket. Perhaps it is sadistic, but I have experienced a perverse satisfaction taking out two or more of the hapless critters in a single swipe; but hey, no pesticide pollution, no left over can, no ozone depletion (propellent), and you burn a few calories to boot.

Method 2: This takes a little more finesse but you can actually suck them right out of the air with the hose of your vacuum cleaner, preferably a shop vac. If you tape a plastic pipe to the end of your vacuum hose the flies, bees, etc. don't easily recognize this as a threat, at first. As an aside, a shop vac with a 20 foot long plastic pipe is a pretty safe way to rid your eaves of wasp and hornet nests, if the need arises. Considering the current power crunch this may be a risky alternative to Method 1.

Happy hunting ! Frank

Every summer I seem to get flies, I've tried a few things which worked reasonably well, depending on the flies.

#1, I've run around with a spray bottle with dish soap and water in it and a magazine. If you can zap the fly with soapy water, they usually fly or fall to a wall, ceiling or floor where you can smack them with a rolled up magazine or fly swatter.

#2 I've had very good success using a clothes hanger shaped into an O with a plastic bag taped around the O - a rudimentary insect net. You swipe the fly, then pull the end of the plastic bag down so the fly can't escape. If you want, you can let the fly go outside captive release style (although I've seen them waiting by the door to come in).

#3 I've found that if I get up in the middle of the night for some reason, I could kill basically all the flies in my house, while they were on the ceiling sleeping. Elizabeth