Of the thousands of species of flies, only a few are common pests in and around structures. Some of the more common nuisance flies are the house fly, the face fly, the stable fly and several species of garbage flies. These pests breed in animal waste and decaying organic material from which they can pick up bacteria and viruses. In addition, adult stable flies feed on mammalian blood-causing a painful bite.

Flies found inside a building have entered from the outside in almost all cases. Therefore, barriers preventing access to the building are the first line of defense. Cracks around windows and doors should be sealed. Well-fitted screens will also limit their access into buildings. Regular removal (at least once a week) and disposal of organic waste, including dog feces and rotting fruit, reduces food sources and limits breeding sites. Garbage should not be allowed to accumulate and should be placed in plastic bags and held in containers with tight-fitting lids. Garbage should be placed as far away from a building entrance as possible. In general, poor exclusion and lack of sanitation are the major contributors to fly problems.

Sticky fly papers or ribbons are effective at controlling a few flies in confined areas, but are not effective enough to manage heavy infestations or to provide control in an outdoor setting. Inverted cone traps containing fly food attractants can be readily purchased commercially and are effective in areas that do not contain garbage or animal wastes. The fly food attractants used in these inverted cone traps will be quite foul smelling, so the traps should be placed at some distance from occupied structures. Fly baits used in trash areas may be effective in reducing the number of adult flies, if proper sanitation practices are followed. However, when flies have access to garbage, baits will not control them. Fly traps using ultraviolet light may be effective when used indoors in areas where they are not competing with daytime sunlight. For control of just a few flies, the time-tested fly swatter is appropriate. Don’t use fly swatters near food preparation areas because they may result in contaminating food with insect body parts/fluids.

Selective use of insecticides against house flies is one component of a total fly management program, but should only be used after all possible nonchemical strategies have been completed. In residential areas, pesticides are not needed or recommended. Sanitation methods, along with screens to keep flies out of the home, should be sufficient to control flies.

For outside fly control, a professional pest control company can be hired to apply residual insecticides to surfaces such as walls and overhangs that are being used by the flies as resting areas. Contact a Pest Management, Inc. expert to discuss treatment options.