No matter where you are in the United States, you know about and have experienced flies. These pests are annoying, unsanitary, and in some cases even dangerous. But did you know that the types of flies you may be dealing with can range from common house flies to flies the size of a felt-tip marker point?
That’s right. The most common flies in the United States may surprise you, and you may not even realize that what you’re dealing with is, indeed, a fly.
Join us today as we learn more about different types of flies, why not all flies are created equal when it comes to pest control, and how to manage the most common types of fly infestations in the home.
Let’s get started.
What Are Flies?
Flies are insects in the order of Diptera.
When most of us think of flies, we think of house flies. These flies are the common flies we find buzzing around our homes, landing on our freshly prepared foods, and simply driving us bananas. However, house flies are not the only type of true fly.
True flies, or phylum Arthropoda, are an insecta class in the Diptera order. There are over 120,000 species of true fly throughout the world and 18,000 in the United States alone. And while house flies are the top most common fly you’ll contend with when it comes to types of flies, there are lower classifications that are just as annoying and perhaps even dangerous.
Lower classifications of Diptera include many other species of insects, some of which will probably surprise you, but more on that further down.
Flies, as a rule, generally have two wings, six legs, and a notoriously short lifespan. Unfortunately, though they don’t live long, flies of all species are prolific reproducers, with many species able to lay up to 150 eggs at one time.
However, while flies are annoying, they are also beneficial insects and it’s very important to keep that in mind when considering how to get rid of different types of flies.
For example, many types of flies are natural decomposers, eating rotting plants and animal matter and helping reduce waste.
Unfortunately, due to their unique (and somewhat gross) dietary habits, flies can also pose some risks to humans and pets.
Are Flies Dangerous To People Or Pets?
Many types of flies can carry serious diseases.
The dangers of different types of flies can vary depending on their species. For example, some flies bite and are able to transmit harmful diseases that way, while other types of flies transmit illness when they land on foods that are to be consumed by people or animals.
Flies have been known to transmit diseases like salmonella, cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, gastroenteritis, and conjunctivitis. Lower classifications of flies, like mosquitoes, have also been known to cause diseases like West Nile Virus and Zika, just to name a few.
For this reason, fly control is very important. Furthermore, large numbers of flies of any species in or around your home could also be a sign of a worse problem that needs addressing.
But before we get into how to get rid of different types of flies, let’s talk a bit more about the most common types of flies you may contend with in the United States.
10 Most Common Types Of Flies In The US
Some flies look similar, but there are over 18,000 different species of flies in the US alone.
Remember, there are over 18,000 different types of flies in North America alone, so the below list of 10 most common types of flies is a fraction of the flies you may come across in your region.
That said, the below different types of flies are very common throughout the states and each fly has their own unique lifestyle, habitat, diet, benefits, and list of dangers.
The top 10 most common different types of flies include:
- Fruit Fly
- Blow Fly
- Phorid Fly
- Drain Fly
- Stable Fly
- Flesh Fly
Wondering what the other most common types of flies are? The below video goes over other types of flies in the US and the dangers they present.
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Now, let’s take a closer look at the different types of flies you may come across and talk about the risks of each as well as how to get rid of them.
1. The Housefly
The Housefly is the most common fly in the United States.
Scientific Name: Musca Domestica
Size: Medium sized, around 0.6 to 0.7 cm
Color: Grey, light gray, dark grey
Benefits: Houseflies and their larvae are natural decomposers. They eat rotting organic matter, helping it to break down more completely. They are also a food source for a number of other important wildlife species.
Risks: Houseflies can spread nearly 65 different diseases to people and pets, with the most common being typhoid fever, salmonella, tuberculosis and cholera.
Overview of The Housefly:
As its name suggests, the housefly is the most common fly found inside human homes. Believed to have originated in the Middle East, the housefly is now a common insect throughout the world and especially in the US.
Houseflies typically live for only a week or so, but in that time they are able to reproduce rapidly, with a single female house fly laying up to 150 eggs at a time, and up to six different batches of eggs in her short lifespan.
To get rid of and repel the housefly, it’s wise to keep doors and windows closed and ensure screens are properly fitted. Repair any gaps in doorways and use fly repellents like ultrasonic pest repellers, essential oils, and fly traps.
It’s also wise to keep your home and surroundings as tidy as possible. Store food properly, don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight, and invest in garbage bins with secure lids.
2. The Mosquito
Only female mosquitoes bite.
Scientific Name: Culicidae
Size: 0.1 to 0.4 inches
Color: The majority of mosquitoes are grey, white, green, silver, or blue. Some have white markings or stripes on their abdomen.
Benefits: Male mosquitoes especially are beneficial pollinators. They also serve as a food source for other beneficial wildlife, and some scientists are even looking closely at mosquitoes for contributions in potential medicinal treatments.
Risks: Only female mosquitoes bite, and they bite both people and animals. Along with leaving behind an itchy, irritating bump, mosquitoes can also transmit diseases including West Nile Virus, Malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, chikungunya and Zika.
Overview of The Mosquito:
In Spanish, the word mosquito translates to “little fly”, and little fly it is. However, despite it’s usually small size, mosquitoes are some of the most annoying and potentially most concerning pests in the United States.
That said, mosquitoes do have their place in our ecosystem and play an important role. Still, because of the dangers they present to people and animals, most experts recommend using mosquito repellent tactics in and around your home.
Mosquitoes are highly attracted to stagnant water sources above all else, so the best way to deter mosquitoes is to remove any of these types of environments including ponds, bird baths, swampy areas, etc. We also recommend you avoid over-watering your grass and repair any water leaks inside and outside of your home.
3. The Horsefly
Horse Flies are known for their large green eyes.
Scientific Name: Tabanidae
Size: 3/4ths to 1 1/4ths an in inch in length
Color: Ranging from black to grey with bright green eyes.
Benefits: Horseflies are an important food source to a wide variety of other beneficial wildlife.
Risks: When it comes to people, horse flies are of very minimal danger. The only real concern is that their bite is somewhat painful. However, when they bite horses, they can transmit a serious and even fatal illness known as Swamp Fever.
Overview of The Horsefly:
Horseflies are closely related to mosquitoes, with the female horse fly sucking blood from people and animals for food and reproduction. They prefer pastures and moisture, and are commonly found near streams or other water sources.
You’ll rarely find horseflies in your home, though they can be very problematic for those who enjoy the outdoors or the equestrian lifestyle. To get rid of or prevent flies, experts recommend protecting yourself and especially your horse, if you have one, by using essential oils, fly traps, and other common fly repellents.
4. The Gnat
There are two types of gnats including biting gnats and non-biting gnats.
Scientific Name: Sciara
Size: 1/4th of an inch
Benefits: Gnats are important natural decomposers for a plethora of organic materials. They also help bring nutrients to different species of plants and serve as a vital food source for a number of beneficial wildlife.
Risks: Gnats are generally harmless to people or pets, though some species of gnats do bite and their bite can be painful and itchy.
Overview of The Gnat:
There are a wide variety of gnat types in the United States and throughout the world. Most gnat species are very small, and they are divided into two categories: biting gnats and non biting gnats.
The group of biting gnats generally drink blood for reproduction and food, and only the females in this category bite. Gnats tend to swarm in large groups, often called gnat clouds, and are considered more of a nuisance pest than anything else as they do not harm people, pets or structures.
To get rid of gnats, experts recommend using common small fly traps, essential oils, and removing potential attractants like rotting fruit, foods, plant decay, garbage, and excess water sources from around your home.
5. The Fruit Fly
Fruit flies are attracted to fermentation like rotting fruit and wine.
Scientific Name: Drosophila Melanogaster
Size: 3 mm
Color: Tan, light yellow or light brown
Benefits: Fruit flies are commonly used in research because they have so many of the same genes as humans, including the same disease genes. They are also natural decomposers and serve as a food source to a variety of wildlife.
Risks: Because fruit flies are attracted to different human foods and are often found in homes, they can be vectors of food-borne illnesses including E.coli, listeria and salmonella.
Overview of The Fruit Fly:
The more we learn about fruit flies, the more impressed we become. These tiny insects are shockingly similar to humans as far as their genetic traits go, making them wonderful contributors to scientific research.
However, fruit flies are also a nuisance pest inside many American homes and can even pose some real dangers as they tend to carry and spread bacteria to foods we readily consume.
To get rid of fruit flies and keep them at bay, it’s important to store foods properly, refrain from leaving wine and alcohol bottles open, and to keep fruits from getting overripe on counters or outside below fruit trees.
6. The Blow Fly
Blow flies are usually a metallic green, blue or black color.
Scientific Name: Calliphoridae
Size: 0.4 inches
Color: Metallic green, black, or blue
Benefits: Blowflies are natural decomposers who help break down rotting and organic matter quickly and effectively.
Risks: Blowflies land and feed on decaying corpses and feces, often picking up and then transmitting serious illnesses including E. Coli, cholera, tuberculosis, tularemia, and the plague.
Overview of The Blow Fly:
While blow flies are very beneficial when it comes to the different flies on this list, they are also some of the most dangerous. They are vectors of serious disease due to their lifestyle and dietary habits, which include feces, decaying flesh, and other rotting organic material.
It’s important to keep blowflies at bay using a number of the same methods you can use for other types of flies, including fly traps, ultrasonic pest repellents, essential oils, sprays and pest control products.
You can prevent blow flies by cleaning up animal waste outside your home, disposing of garbage and food waste properly, and keeping doors and windows shut and sealed securely.
7. The Phorid Fly
Phorid flies are generally very small.
Scientific Name: Phoridae
Size: 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch
Color: Tan or dark brown
Benefits: Phorid flies are natural decomposers of decaying flesh, animal and human feces and rotting vegetables.
Risks: Because of their diet and lifestyle, phorid flies can be vectors of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis, salmonellosis and conjunctivitis.
Overview of The Phorid Fly:
Often called sewer flies, phorid flies are small decomposers most highly attracted to rotting flesh and waste. They are very beneficial but also quite dangerous, and steps should be taken to keep these pests out of residential and commercial areas including hospitals, restaurants and businesses.
To keep phorid flies at bay, we suggest ensuring you store and remove food waste properly, keep dumpsters and garbage bins closed, and use appropriate pest control methods like small fly traps, repellents and commercial pest control.
8. The Drain Fly
Drain flies are often confused for moths due to their furry bodies and wings.
Color: Light brown or tan in color
Benefits: Drain flies are important decomposers, feeding on organic buildup in drains and pipes.
Risks: Though adult drain flies do not transmit diseases to people or pets, they can increase chronic illnesses in those who suffer from asthma or bronchitis. Drain fly larvae, however, can be more dangerous and may lead to myiasis, which is a type of blood poisoning in humans and animals.
Overview of The Drain Fly:
Drain flies are commonly mistaken for moths due to their furry bodies and larger wings. They are small and are commonly found in home bathrooms near clogged drains, in sinks and in bathtubs. They feed on the organic buildup in drains, where they also breed and lay their eggs.
Getting rid of drain flies is relatively easy and typically involves using common fly-repellent remedies along with unclogging any infested drains and using eco-friendly drain cleaner.
9. The Stable Fly
Stable flies can be especially problematic for animals.
Scientific Name: Stomoxys Calcitrans
Size: 7 – 8 mm in length
Color: Brown and black with stripes and spots that resemble a checkerboard on their abdomen.
Benefits: Stable flies are an important food source to a variety of wildlife in their region.
Risks: Stable flies are blood sucking insects and primarily feed on animal blood, though they have been known to bite people if an animal host isn’t available. That said, their primary risk is to animals.
Overview of The Stable Fly:
Often confused for houseflies, stable flies are common flies found in equestrian style settings. They prefer to feed on animal hosts including horses, and can cause serious diseases to the horses they bite, making it important to implement stable fly control.
Stable flies can also bite people, generally targeting the ankles and lower legs. Stable flies also target pets like dogs and cats, and their bites can be quite painful.
To get rid of or repel stable flies, we recommend using common fly repellent products including commercial insecticides, natural insecticides, essential oil repellents and fly traps.
10. The Fleshfly
Flesh flies are famous for their checkerboard pattern and red eyes.
Scientific Name: Sarcophagidae
Size: 10 to 13 mm
Color: Black and white with a pronounced checkerboard appearance of white stripes on their back and abdomen. They also have large, red eyes.
Benefits: Flesh flies are natural decomposers feeding on decaying organic matter and waste. They are also an important food source for beneficial wildlife.
Risks: Flesh flies can be vectors of serious diseases including leprosy bacilli, intestinal pseudomyiasis in humans and can cause a type of blood poisoning in animals known as myiasis. Flesh flies have also been known to lay their larvae in open wounds of decaying flesh on animals and people.
Overview of The Fleshfly:
Last on our list of most common types of flies is the notorious flesh fly. This fly is commonly found around hospitals or outside of restaurants, and anywhere a dead carcass is present. In fact, forensic scientists rely greatly on the flesh fly larvae to help them estimate a person’s time of death.
Flesh fly infestations in homes are rare, though one or two flesh flies can get inside through an open door or window. However, most flesh flies are problematic outside near large deposits of waste, garbage, in dog runs, or surrounding dead carcasses.
To get rid of flesh flies, routinely clean up pet waste in the yard, store food waste and garbage properly, and dispose of dead animals on your property as soon as possible.
How To Get Rid of Flies In General- Products We Recommend
There are plenty of quality products you can use to get rid of different flies.
Most flies have similar characteristics and can be taken care of using common products and repellents. If you’re dealing with any of the types of flies above, the below products can help you to get rid of them and even perhaps prevent them from returning.
KATCHY Indoor Small Fly Trap
Some types of flies are very small and require traps that are specifically designed to catch and kill them. For smaller flies like mosquitoes and gnats, we recommend a fly trap like the above indoor trap by KATCHY.
This bug zapper is designed to capture and kill small flying insects silently and effectively. It is safe to use indoors and around children and pets, and even includes an attractive light that is both lovely to people and lureing to different types of flies.
Wondercide Indoor Fly Repellent Spray
Wondercide is an all natural spray you can use to repel and control a number of insects, including different types of flies. You can use this spray inside and out, and it is perfectly safe to use in homes with children and pets.
HAZKO Ultrasonic Pest Repellent
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Ultrasonic pest repellents like the one listed above are an effective and safe way to prevent different types of flies as well as other insects and pests like rodents, spiders, roaches, ants and more.
The repellent works by emitting ultrasonic sound waves and vibrations that irritate pests but are perfectly safe and harmless to people and pets.
Tips On Preventing Flies and Keeping Your Home and Yard Pest Free
Preventing flies in general can help keep your home, yard and family safe from flies and their potential risks.
When dealing with different types of flies, prevention is key to ensuring your home and loved ones stay safe and healthy. Remember, while most types of flies are beneficial and natural decomposers, many can be dangerous to human and animal health and should be kept at a distance.
To help prevent different types of flies from coming around your home, we suggest you follow the below tips:
Keep Up With Routine Home Maintenance
Like most pests, different types of flies can find their way into your home through vulnerabilities along your home’s perimeter.
Keep up on routine home repairs and make sure to fix ripped window screens, ensure screens are properly fitted, and repair any gaps in doorways.
Keep Your Yard Tidy and Free of Waste
Many types of flies feed on animal waste, including pet feces. To help keep flies at bay it’s important to ensure your yard is free of pet waste. Pay special attention to pet runs and doggy play areas, and when removing waste make sure you are disposing of it properly.
Keep Your Home Tidy and Free of Clutter
Clutter and debris inside or outside of the home can lead to decay and buildup of mold and other rotting organic matter. Since most types of flies feed on decaying organic matter, keeping your home free of debris and clutter can help reduce their food source.
Get Rid of Excess Water or Moisture
Fix any water leaks inside or outside of your home. Remember, most types of flies are attracted to excess moisture or stagnant water, so removing unused bird baths, stagnant ponds, upturned buckets, and more can help reduce your chances of having flies.
We also suggest keeping drains free of clogs and refraining from over-watering your lawn and garden.
Store Food Properly
Like ants, different types of flies have an incredible nose for food. Rotting food is especially potent and what most types of flies are attracted to. In order to prevent future flies, store food properly. Pantry food should be stored in airtight plastic or glass containers while perishable foods should be stored in the refrigerator.
Do not leave vegetables or fruit out to get overripe or rotten, and refrain from leaving dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter overnight.
Store Garbage Properly
Exposed garbage is another source of food for several types of flies, so try to invest in garbage bins with sealed lids. You can also use scented garbage bags and even spray garbage with ammonia or peppermint oil to help mask the smell of rotting food until trash day.
Use A Common Pest Repellent Year Round
Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to use a common pest repellent all year round. Keep in mind that most types of flies are often a symptom of another pest problem, including rodent infestations, so do your research and make a plan to protect your home from a number of pests, not just flies.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on the different types of flies you will likely deal with in the United States. Now it’s your turn to tell us your thoughts. Which types of flies above have you had the most trouble with?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.