Most of us associate flies with unsanitary conditions, rotting garbage, decay and filth. This is especially true when it comes to the flesh fly.
While flesh flies are not the most common fly known to infiltrate homes in large numbers, and rarely does one encounter a flesh fly infestation, these insects can be bothersome and even an alarming sign of a worse problem in or around your home.
So, how do you identify a flesh fly problem, locate the source, and get rid of flesh flies for good? That’s what we’re here to find out.
Join us today as we learn more about flesh flies and go over some of the best flesh fly control methods available.
What Is A Flesh Fly?
Flesh flies are several species of fly that feed on decomposition.
Scientifically known as Sarchophagidae, the flesh fly is a species of fly commonly found throughout tropical environments. However, it’s not unusual to find them in other types of environments as well, including environments that would not be considered habitable to other types of flies.
While they do not often invade homes, flesh flies are commonly associated with people, often found congregating in urban and residential areas. They are also commonly found outside near restaurants, hospitals, and other commercial buildings with large dumpsters or an accumulation of decay or decomposition foods.
Even though flesh flies do not typically invade and infest homes, they are still some of the most notorious flies in the insect kingdom. In fact, flesh flies, named for their diet habits and preference for laying larvae in open wounds or decomposing flesh, are some of the most effective natural decomposers of the fly world.
These insects are often the first on the scene of a dead animal or person, and are often coveted by forensict entomologists, who utilize flesh fly larvae found at the location of a murder to pinpoint the victim’s time of death.
While highly beneficial to the ecosystem and even helpful to law enforcement, flesh flies are also unpleasant and perhaps even a sign of some serious decay going on in or around your home.
The video below further discusses flesh flies, their breeding habits, and more.
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Because they tend to colonize around decay, including that of decomposing animals, garbage, feces, etc, it’s usually uncommon to find large clusters of flesh flies inside your home.
However, it is not unheard of. Due to the unique life cycle of flesh flies, you may (in a rare instance) come across a large number of them inside your home if an adult has laid her larvae in an ideal source. This likely happens if an animal has passed in your walls, attic, basement, etc, and the flesh flies were breeding there.
If this happens, and in the unusual instance you were unaware of a dead animal in your home, a single flesh fly may lay up to 40 live larvae in this food source and leave them behind. In 21 days or so, the larvae will leave the source of food and emerge to enter the pupae stage.
Upon maturing, flesh flies may then leave their nesting area and emerge into your home. If you find large clusters of flesh flies, (sometimes up to 300 or more), this could be a sign of a source of decay somewhere near your property.
With that in mind, let’s talk about how to identify a flesh fly problem inside or near your home.
How To Identify A Flesh Fly Problem In Your Home Or Yard
Flesh flies often have a checkerboard pattern or stripes on their bodies.
It’s quite easy to confuse a common house fly with a flesh fly. Afterall, the two insects look relatively similar in size, shape and even coloring. However, most house flies buzzing about your windows are driving you crazy while you drink your morning coffee are not flesh flies.
But how do you know for sure?
Luckily, flesh flies have a unique color and pattern to their body that makes them easy to distinguish from other fly species, especially when you know what to look for.
These flies are medium to large in size, generally ranging from about ⅓ to ½ an inch in length. It’s important to note that, like most insects, there are different species of flesh fly that may be larger or smaller than the common house fly.
That said, most flesh flies are easy to identify due to their unique coloring and pattern, as we mentioned above.
Flesh flies tend to have a greyish colored abdomen with stripes down their back and a checkerboard pattern on their abdomen. They also often have a red mark on the bottom of their abdomen, though not all species of flesh fly have this red marking.
Unlike cluster flies, who are found “clustered” in homes and near windows in very large numbers, flesh flies do not invade homes in mass.
Instead, they may be spotted in a one-off instance, where one or two of them have entered your home accidentally through a window, ripped screen or open door.
While some flesh fly species can be seasonal pests, they don’t regularly invade homes, structures, or even property linings with much predictability. Instead, they congregate only if there is an ideal food source nearby, most notably something rotten, dead or decaying.
What Has Attracted Flesh Flies To Your Property?
Flesh flies are often attracted to exposed garbage that contains rotting food.
When we think of flesh flies, many of us think of dead carcases, and while we have mostly covered this as one of these pests’ most sought after food sources, there are other things that can attract these nasty flies to your home or property.
Along with decaying flesh, the flesh fly is also attracted to:
- Decaying meat
- Dog food
- And Decaying Vegetables
It’s quite common to find a flesh fly or several in dog runs, at dog parks, in out houses, in pastures of livestock, and even in barns or stables with horses.
Most flesh fly insects are found outdoors, though they can make their way inside your home, as mentioned above, especially if they detect a good food source and breeding ground.
Flesh flies themselves are not particularly dangerous to people or pets, and while they don’t cause structural damage to property. Still, it’s important to take action upon discovering a flesh fly infestation as this is generally a sign of something more serious going on that could be a health risk to you and your loved ones.
With that in mind, it’s time to talk about the best flesh fly control methods.
Best Flesh Fly Control Using Natural Repellents
Flesh flies control rarely requires the use of chemical or insecticidal methods
Flesh fly insects are certainly not a good sign, but the good news is that they do not invade homes in large numbers and are generally simple to get rid of without the use of chemical means or insecticides.
In general, the quickest way to get rid of a flesh fly problem in or around your home is to ensure your property is clean and tidy, and to remove any dead animals or rotting food sources. We’ll talk more about that further down.
You can also help eliminate flesh fly insects by using natural products and repellents, like those listed below.
Superfly Fly Trap Ribbon
Fly trap ribbons are an excellent way to prevent a flesh fly problem from growing out of control around outside dumpsters, dog runs, and backyards. While these ribbons will not eliminate a flesh fly problem, they can help control one and reduce the number of flesh flies you encounter.
These ribbons use a sticky glue trap that lure the flesh fly to the sticky surface, thus capturing and killing them. The traps are non toxic and simple to use. The above order contains a 10 pack of ribbons and each one is disposable.
RESCUE! Outdoor Fly Trap
Another outdoor fly trap we like for flesh fly control is the above hanging trap by RESCUE. This trap uses a baited lure to attract flesh flies and capture them quickly. It works on hundreds of species of flies, including the flesh fly, the common house fly, horse flies and more.
While this flesh fly trap is effective, it is meant for outdoor use and should be used at least 20 feet away from your home, patio, porch, or play areas in your yard. Each hanging trap is disposable and orders come in packs of two.
Farnam Home and Garden Captivator Fly Trap
If you are looking for a reusable flesh fly trap then we recommend you take a look at the Captivator Fly Trap above. This fly trap uses pheromone lures as well as feed lures to entice flesh flies, house flies, phorid flies and other fly pests.
While this trap is reusable, it should not be used inside the home and is best suited for use in gardens, yards, and near outdoor garbage bins or dog runs.
Bocianelli Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Ultrasonic pest repellers are not the first thing you may think of when you think of flesh fly control, but they can be an effective tool in preventing and removing flesh flies and potential hosts from your home.
These repellers use ultrasonic sound waves and vibrations to repel not only flies and other insects like spiders, roaches, bed bugs, and more, but also rodents like bats and squirrels who can lead to decay, feces buildup and even decomposition if one should pass in your walls.
Wondercide Indoor Pest Control Spray
If you would like a natural spot treatment for inside your home to repel flesh flies, you’ll like this indoor pest repellent spray by Wondercide. It uses essential oils and other natural ingredients to repel flesh flies, house flies, roaches, bed bugs, spiders and more.
It also comes in different scents depending on your preference including cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary and lemongrass. This product is all natural and safe to use in areas where food is stored and prepared like in kitchens. It is also safe for people and pets and will not harm the environment.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control Spray
Wondercide also makes a perimeter spray for outside your home to repel pests like flies. This spray can be used directly on garden and lawn vegetation to help repel flesh flies and many other pests without causing damage to the environment.
It is also perfectly safe to use in areas where children and pets play, making it ideal for dog runs. Best of all, this spray also works against other pests that commonly target dogs like fleas and ticks.
Mighty Mint Peppermint Oil Insect Repellent
Peppermint oil is highly effective on many insects from flesh fly pests to bed bugs. It is also effective against rodents like mice and rats. For this reason, we highly recommend using a spray like the Mighty Mint peppermint oil repellent, listed above.
This spray is ideal for inside use and can help prevent flesh flies, spiders, roaches, bed bugs, and even rodents who may attract flesh flies in the future.
Best Flesh Fly Control Using Insecticides
While insecticides are not often needed to get rid of flesh flies, they can reproduce rapidly and a more intensive treatment may be needed.
Most flesh fly issues do not require the use of insecticides, though large establishments like restaurants and hospitals may find they experience a more overwhelming issue with these insects than those in residential homes.
Apartment complexes with large dumpsters or trash disposals may also notice an upswing in flesh fly activity, and this could call for a more intensive method of treatment.
While insecticides are effective against flesh flies, it’s important to note that they contain harsh chemicals and toxins that can be dangerous to people, pets and the environment. Please always use insecticides with caution and only as directed.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the top insecticides recommended by experts to get rid of a flesh fly problem.
Hot Shot Flying Insect Killer
This insecticide is specifically designed to kill flying insects like flesh fly insects, mosquitoes, house flies, wasps, and more. It can be used both inside and outside of the home and will continue working for up to 4 weeks when applied correctly.
That said, it does contain a chemical insecticide that can be harmful to people and pets. It can also be harmful to vegetation, so avoid spraying this spray directly on garden plants and houseplants.
Ortho Home Defense Fly Killer
This is another fly trap that we recommend for larger flesh fly infestations in the home, but it also works against more common house flies as well. The decal sticks to windows and is made of a clear material, so it is subtle and discreet.
The trap attracts flesh flies and other pests and works for up to 7 months. However, it should be kept out of reach of children as it does contain a toxic chemical that kills the flies. Make sure to read the directions carefully before using it and store it in a safe place.
Best Flesh Fly Control Using Home Remedies
Peppermint oil can help repel flesh flies and many other pests naturally and safely.
If you’re on a budget or you don’t wish to use insecticides to get rid of a flesh fly problem in or around your home, you’re in luck. Flesh flies are relatively easy to manage and will generally leave on their own once you get rid of their food or breeding source.
Flesh flies are also repelled by a number of household ingredients and do it yourself pest control products which you likely already have in your medicine cabinet or kitchen pantry. Take a look.
Essential Oils That Repel Flesh Flies
Essential oils are popular for many holistic and medicinal purposes, but they are also highly effective when used for pest control. Some of the best essential oils we recommend for getting rid of a flesh fly problem include:
- Lavender Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Lemongrass Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
You can make your own essential oil spray to use daily to naturally repel a flesh fly issue by combining 10 to 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice above with two cups of water in a spray bottle.
Then spray this solution around your home, along entry and exit points, in attics, basements, crawl spaces, in dog runs, and anywhere else you wish to repel flesh flies.
DIY White Vinegar Cleaning Spray
One of the best ways to keep a flesh fly problem at bay is to keep your house clean. If you notice flesh flies in your home (or any flies for that matter) it’s time to pull out those cleaning supplies.
You can make your own effective cleaning solution for surfaces by combining equal parts white vinegar with equal parts water in a spray bottle and adding 5 to 10 drops of an essential oil.
Use this solution to spray and wipe down surfaces in your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and other areas you wish to repel pests like flies, spiders, roaches, rodents and more.
Flesh Fly Repellent Plants
Like many pests, flesh fly insects cannot stand the aroma of certain plants. Since flesh flies can be a problem both inside and outside the home, many people find that planting certain plants in their garden and along their perimeter help to keep these pests at bay. Some of these plants include:
- And Lemongrass
How To Make Your Own Flesh Fly Trap
While white vinegar makes for a great cleaning solution, apple cider vinegar makes for a great flesh fly lure.
Flesh fly insects are attracted to the scent of apple cider vinegar, so you can make your own flesh fly trap by combining one cup of apple cider vinegar and liquid dish soap in an open bowl. Leave this open bowl anywhere you have noticed flesh fly activity.
The flies will be attracted to the smell of the apple cider vinegar but will not be able to escape the soap once they land in it.
Are Flesh Flies Dangerous To People or Pets?
While their eating and breeding habits are gross to say the least, flesh flies are not dangerous to people or pets.
Flesh flies are certainly known for some nasty eating habits, but in reality they are actually highly beneficial decomposers who are harmless to people and pets. In fact, even though they congregate around decay and feces, they are not known to spread illness or disease.
That said, they have been known to burrow into open and infected wounds, though it’s highly unlikely that a human will have a flesh fly invading an open cut. It is much more common that livestock will deal with a flesh fly problem in an open wound where they can’t actively reach the location.
However, the presence of flesh fly activity could be an indicator of something amiss in your home, so they are certainly nothing to ignore. Dead animals in your walls, ceiling, roof, basement or attic could lead to other pest problems and health issues for you and your loved ones, as can large accumulations of filth, garbage, decay.
If you’re dealing with a flesh fly infestation in or around your home, it’s very important to take action and investigate to find out what has attracted them there.
Best Flesh Fly Prevention Tips
The best way to prevent flesh flies is to make sure your home and property are clean and free of decay.
When it comes to flesh flies in comparison with other pests, these insects are relatively simple to get rid of. Usually, all it takes to eliminate a flesh fly infestation is to remove their food source and breeding ground.
Once you have managed to get rid of a flesh fly problem in and around your home, you should next focus on prevention.
Here are some of the easiest ways to prevent a future flesh fly problem on your property:
Clean Your Home and Property Regularly
Keeping your home nice and clean will not only help prevent a flesh fly problem, but it will also help reduce other pests that may attract them like rodents. Wipe down your counters and surfaces often, sweep and vacuum to eliminate food residue like crumbs, and clean beneath appliances and deep inside cupboards.
We also suggest getting rid of clutter in your home whenever possible. This will eliminate potential hiding spots for pests like rodents, which can reduce the chances of a rodent dying in your home where you can’t find it.
Outside, be sure to keep up with landscaping. Keep your lawn trimmed and plant flesh fly repellent plants in your garden. Many of the plants listed above that repel flesh flies also repel rodents and other pests as well, so it’s certainly worth a try.
Clean Up Dog Feces In The Yard and In Your Dog Run
Most flesh fly insects come around in homes with lots of pets, and especially in homes with dogs. Dog runs commonly house flesh fly insects, especially if their waste isn’t properly removed.
To reduce flesh fly activity in your yard and dog run, keep up with waste removal each day.
Remove Food Waste and Garbage Properly
Flesh fly problems often begin around exposed garbage, especially when this garbage contains rotting meat or food. To prevent a future problem with flesh flies, we suggest investing in sealed garbage bins with lids.
It is also best to remove food waste from your home when it is no longer in use. When you throw away garbage with food waste, keep it either in a sealed garbage bin or keep it far away from your home before trash day to ensure the flies don’t make their way near your property.
Practice Routine Home Maintenance
Keeping up with routine home maintenance isn’t necessarily to keep flesh flies out, but it’s more to ensure you don’t end up with rodents and other pests that may attract these flies.
Caulk and seal entry and exit points, ensure screens are not ripped and are properly fitted, and take the proper steps to remove pests like mice, squirrels, bats, and birds when you discover they are nesting in or near your property.
Keep Up With Pest Control Year Round
Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to keep up with a routine pest control regime all year round. Whether you choose natural methods, home remedies, or even hire professional pest control experts to protect your home and property, doing so can help keep not only a flesh fly infestation from occurring, but many other infestations as well.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on flesh fly control in and around your home. And remember, while flesh fly insects are highly beneficial and important, their presence could mean you have a bigger problem on your hands, so don’t hesitate to take action.
Best of luck.