How to Get Rid of Houseflies in Winter: Quick and Effective Solutions

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Winter months often lead to a decrease in housefly activity, but these pesky insects may still find their way indoors. Understanding how to get rid of houseflies during this season is essential for maintaining a clean and comfortable living space.

Houseflies can transmit various pathogens and cause diseases, making their removal crucial for protecting your health. One effective method of controlling housefly populations is the use of biological control, which involves introducing beneficial organisms that target the flies at their immature stages.

Additionally, preventing an infestation includes diligent cleaning routines like vacuuming, washing fabrics, and disposing of waste properly. By employing these strategic preventive measures, you can keep your home free from houseflies throughout the winter months.

Understanding the Winter Housefly Problem

Houseflies vs Cluster Flies

Houseflies and cluster flies are two types of insects that may invade homes during winter. Houseflies are smaller with six legs, while cluster flies are a bit larger and are more erratically moving creatures1. Here’s a comparison of the two flies:

Feature Housefly Cluster Fly
Size Smaller (1/4 inch) Larger (3/8 – 1/2 inch)
Color Shiny black Dull grayish-brown
Movement Quick, fast Slow, erratic
Breeding Organic materials, decomposing food Earthworms

Breeding and Infestation During Cold Months

During the cold winter months, these flies seek warmth in buildings and homes. Here are some aspects to be aware of with breeding and infestations:

  • Houseflies breed in moist, decomposing organic materials2.
  • Cluster flies lay their eggs outdoors and their larvae parasitize earthworms1.
  • Dark-winged fungus gnats may be found around houseplants during winter3.
  • Proper identification of the specific fly species is crucial for effective control4.

To prevent infestations in winter, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Seal cracks and openings around windows and doors to keep flies from entering.
  • Keep your trash well-sealed and clean to prevent housefly breeding.
  • Minimize overwatering houseplants to avoid fungus gnat infestations3.
  • Use light traps and insecticide fogs as a temporary relief for low-level fly problems5.

By being informed about the differences between houseflies, cluster flies, and other winter pests, you can take appropriate measures to keep your home fly-free during the cold months.

Preventing Housefly Infestations in Winter

Sealing Your Home

Sealing your home is an essential step to prevent housefly infestations. Inspect for gaps and cracks on your foundation, walls, and attics. Use caulk or sealant to close these openings.

Examples of common sealing spots include:

  • Door and window frames
  • Wall cracks
  • Attic openings and vents

Keeping a Clean House

Maintaining a clean house reduces the attractiveness for houseflies. Regularly clean surfaces and floors. Always store food in sealed containers.

A clean home means:

  • No exposed food
  • Clean surfaces
  • Minimal clutter

Proper Waste Management

Proper waste management helps limit housefly infestations. Regularly empty garbage and store waste in sealed containers. Avoid leaving garbage indoors for extended periods.

Some tips for managing waste:

  • Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids
  • Regularly empty your trash cans
  • Keep garbage area clean

Screening Doors and Windows

Screening doors and windows minimizes the entry of houseflies. Install screens on doors and windows. Regularly inspect and repair damaged screens.

Benefits of screened doors and windows:

  • Minimized entry of houseflies
  • Better interior airflow
  • Protection from other insects

Comparison table of sealing methods:

Sealing Method Pros Cons
Caulk Effective air sealant, paintable Can shrink or crack over time
Weatherstripping Long-lasting, easy to install May require occasional replacement
Sealant tapes Quick and easy application May damage surfaces when removed

Remember, short and simple actions can make a significant difference in preventing housefly infestations during the winter months.

Effective Natural Housefly Control Methods

Natural Traps and Repellents

Vinegar and Fruit Traps

One way to deal with houseflies in the winter is by using natural traps. A popular homemade trap combines water and vinegar. Here’s an example:

  • Fill a jar with water, a spoonful of sugar, and a few drops of dish soap.
  • Add some apple cider vinegar or wine.
  • Cover the jar with plastic wrap and poke small holes.
    The sweet mix attracts flies, and the dish soap makes them slip and drown.

Sticky Traps

You can also use sticky traps as an easy and natural way to catch houseflies. Examples:

  • Honey or molasses on yellow cards.
  • Commercially available sticky fly strips.

Herbs and Plants That Deter Flies

Fly-Repelling Herbs

Some herbs are excellent for repelling houseflies. Growing them in pots around your house can help reduce fly populations. Examples:

  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Bay leaves
    These emit strong smells that deter flies without compromising the health of your family or pets.

Use Cayenne Pepper

Spreading cayenne pepper in likely breeding spots can discourage flies from laying eggs.

Fly-Repelling Plants

There are also plants that are natural fly repellents, like the Venus Flytrap, which is an insectivorous plant that catches and consumes small insects like houseflies.

Comparison Table: Natural Fly Traps vs. Fly-Repelling Herbs

Natural Fly Traps Fly-Repelling Herbs
Attract and trap flies Deter flies from the area
Require regular cleaning Low maintenance
Use common household ingredients Can be grown indoors and outdoors

Dealing with Current Housefly Infestations

Insecticides and Pesticides

  • Pros: Quick and effective
  • Cons: Chemicals can harm humans and pets

Insecticides and pesticides are often a quick and effective way to deal with houseflies. However, these chemicals can sometimes be harmful to humans and pets.

Using Traps and Swatters

  • Pros: Chemical-free, reusable
  • Cons: Requires effort, not always effective

Using traps and swatters are a more natural way to eliminate houseflies. Traps can be purchased or homemade, and swatters are easy to find.

Comparison Table:

Method Pros Cons
Insecticides Quick, effective Chemicals, harm humans & pets
Traps & Swatters Chemical-free, reusable Requires effort, not always effective

Safe Methods for Indoor and Outdoor Use

  • Indoor: Sticky tape, fly paper, essential oils
  • Outdoor: Natural repellents, plants

For indoor use, consider safe methods like sticky tape, fly paper, or essential oils. These methods are safe for both humans and pets.

For outdoor use, try natural repellents or plants that discourage houseflies from settling in your yard. This helps reduce the risk of houseflies entering your home.

Footnotes

  1. (https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/insects/cluster-flies-and-other-winter-flies-5-618/) 2

  2. (https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/structural-pest-control/house-flies-other-filth-flies.html)

  3. (https://insectlab.russell.wisc.edu/2020/12/28/fungus-gnats-tiny-flies-around-your-houseplants/) 2

  4. (https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/asset-external/indoor-flies-and-their-control/)

  5. (https://schoolipm.tamu.edu/forms/pest-management-plans/ipm-action-plan-for-house-flies-and-filth-flies/)

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Banded General from England

 

Subject: Wasp like bug?
Location: England, Lancashire
June 25, 2017 5:24 am
Want to identify the bug. It landed on some clothing and it had a good grip, it would not let go of the cloth easily. It also did not fly away when disturbed.
Thanks
Signature: ?

Banded General

Though we did not recognize the species, we suspected this might be a Soldier Fly in the family Stratiomyidae, and we soon found the Banded General, Stratiomys potamida, pictured on Nature Spot where it states:  “It is a slow and cumbersome flyer, often seen feeding on umbellifers and Bramble in wet and marshy areas” and “Its carnivorous larvae are amphibious, feeding in ponds and ditches.”  The site also states:  “Soldier flies get their name from their bold and bright colours and markings. This is a particularly striking example – looking like a very flat wasp.”  FlickR states “One of the ‘big five’ soldierflies” and has some great images.

Letter 2 – Beetle-Backed Fly from Malaysia

 

Fly mimic
These are photos of a kind of fly mimic ! I think these are extremely hard to spot and capture. In a blink of an eye, the vanish, it looks like a shell behind it’s back but it can travel in incredible speed. Would you mind tell me what species of fly is it . I’m located in Malaysia. The fly is found in my garden’s passion fruit plant. Do you know what species of fly is it ?

The head looks like a fly, but the body looks like a beetle. We believe it is some species of fly. We will contact Eric Eaton to get assistance.

Hi, Daniel:
The fly is a “beetle-backed fly” in the family Celyphidae. There are about 90 species in the family (surely more that have yet to be discovered), collectively occuring in Asia and tropical Africa. The “shell” is actually just an enlarged scutellum, a body part that is normally quite small, the last dorsal segment of the thorax. Bizarre, aren’t they?!
Eric

Letter 3 – Biting Flies

 

) Hi bugman!
I live in West Michigan and just before it is going to rain the flies start to bite! Can you tell me why they do this? It is even worse if you are out on Lake Michigan?
Thank you!
Jennifer

Hi Jennifer,
Probably the increased humidity makes them more active. Usually the female fly bites and often she must have blood before she can lay fertile eggs. My guess is the conditions are right for mating and the flies are biting as part of the mating ritual.

Letter 4 – Flies

 

I live in the midwest and recently relandscaped a good portion of my lawn and had bluegrass sod laid. ok so it was a very warm dry winter then 2 days after sod was laid the spring rains started and just keep coming. Problem is 2 monthes later the rains still come 1 or 2 times a week. there are lots of mushrooms growing in the new sod but that dosen’t bother me i know it will dry up soon. the problem is the sodded area seems to be infested with small dark colored flying bugs larger than gnats but smaller than the average house fly.the sod is still deep green but im worried that this could be a damaging infestation! what kind of insecticide should be used ? can you tell me what kind of bug this could be? thanks in advance!
Robert Bouchard

Dear Robert,
Many nonbiting gnats including Root Gnats (Family Sciaridae) and March Flies (Family Bibionidae) spend their maggot form eating decaying plant material such as compost, peat and spaghnum. They are scavengers who often live among the roots of grasses. There was probably a substrate of manure and compost laid beneath your sod, and that is where the flies are breeding. They will not damage your lawn as they do not feed on the living grass.

Letter 5 – Flies

 

I live in SC and yesterday (4/30) I found 3 bugs attached to my miniature pincher’s bare belly (only on hairless spots). They were much easier to remove than a tick. I know they were sucking her blood because they were attached exactly the same way (like a tick would be) and were full of blood. They leave red patches that get about as big as a dime and last 3-4 days but don’t itch. The spots look almost like ringworm. The bugs looked very much like sweat bees but didn’t sting me when I removed them. They had tiny transparent wings and were black like a sweat bee but a little smaller. Our vet didn’t know what this could be. I have never found one of them on a person, but my dog has been getting these red spots whenever she’s been outside over an hour (which only happens in warm weather). Please tell me what this could be so I can protect my little dog.
Thank you,
Angie

Dear Angie,
Louse Flies, family Hippoboscidae, are small with flattened bodies. They look like winged ticks that cling tenaciously or crawl sluggishly when they land on skin or clothing. All louse flies are blood suckers, though none feed regularly on humans. Upon emerging from the pupa the adult fly, which has fully developed though fragile wings, flies among trees and shrubs in search of prey. They are ectoparasites whose natural prey includes deer and certain birds.

Letter 6 – Flies

 

My husband and I have been seeing a type of bug that we can’t identify. They are black bugs, about 1/2 centimeter in size. We never seem to see them flying, they usually are just sitting on the walls. They sort of resemble tiny houseflies, except that they don’t have large eyes. I have attached a basic drawing of one.
We started seeing these a few weeks ago when my husband was doing some work in the basement. There was an open drain in the floor which was starting to smell. It was at that time we noticed a few of these bugs. So my husband cemented over the drain. That was a couple weeks ago and we are still seeing the bugs. They don’t seem to be attracted to food or garbage or anything in particular. We just see them on the walls. When we go to kill them, they leave a charcoal-like smudge on the wall (I don’t know if that info helps at all – its just something I noticed). Please help us figure out what these bugs are and the best way to get rid of them!
Thanks!
Holly Kramer

Dear Holly,
You have Bathroom Flies, Clogmia albipunctata, which belong to the Moth Fly family Psychodidae. They are small, harmless gnats that are often noticed indoors in damp places, especially bathrooms and more specifically showers. The brown wormlike larvae develop in the sludgy organic muck that accumulates outdoors in shallow lpools and under artificial conditions, in sink traps, drains, and dead-flow areas in household plumbing. Clean out the pipes.

Letter 7 – FLIES!

 

What is the tiny fly type bug that comes in through the window screens and hangs out on the window glass or ceiling. They almost look like a small fruit fly but they are not. They hang out in the grass as if you water your lawn or walk through it they disperse. Just tons coming in the garage screen door. I’ve been swatting them for almost a week now. Live in NY state and it has been dry and hot. Thanks

Dear Cindy,
Your hovering flies are probably Little House Flies (Fannia canicularis) which are smaller than normal house flies (Musca domestica). On hot summer days, they can be found in garages, under trees, in doorways and in other shaded places, aimlessy hovering, never seeming to land nor having any definite place to go. According to Hogue, swarms of Little House Flies are mainly males with females usually resting nearby. Breeding occurs in a wide variety of rotting organic materials, and they are especially fond of chicken manure and are often found in large numbers near poultry farms. The flat, oval maggots also eat much of the same diet as other domestic flies, frequenting garbage heaps. To get rid of them, clean the chicken coop and make sure the garbage is removed regularly
.

The fly on the wing of the big fly is a normal housefly. The other two look
exactly the same, but are huge. Their coloring is the same as the housefly,
but I have never seen a housefly this big. They do not have the green of a
horse fly, and our neighbor had an even larger one on her window. We live in
upstate NY. Any information will be appreciated.
ThankYou
Tsehdek


Dear Tsedhek
The small fly in your photo is indeed a housefly (Musca domestica). However, your description of the horse fly is inaccurate. The green flies with a metallic coloration are members of the blow fly group which feed as larvae or maggots on the meat of newly dead animals. The Green Bottle Flies (Phaenicia sp.) are very common and they are principally garbage infesting flies, but the maggots can also infest untreated wounds in humans while the adults feed on dog feces. The adults vary in size from 3/16 to 3/8 of an inch and the size depends on the diet of the maggot.
Your large flies are in fact horse flies, (Tabanus sp.). The adults are robust flies from 3/4 to 1 1/8 inches in length. They are grey or blackish, and can have clear or darkish wings. The eyes often have horizontal stripes. The eggs are laid in marshes, ponds and along the margins of lakes and streams, and very often in sloughs, irrigation ditches and similar locations with wet mud and decaying vegetation. The larvae grow to nearly 2 inches long on a diet of snails and other small invertebrates.
The adults exhibit sexual dimorphism, with the females having a seperation between the eyes which the male lacks. Her thorax is also white while his has a fringe of white hairs. The adult females have a ferocious appetite for blood, generally from horses, dogs and the occasional human, and they have been known to trouble rhinos, tapirs and hippopotomi at the L.A. Zoo. The bite is painful. The male feeds on fruit juices and nectar from flowers and does not bite. The female supplements her diet with fruit and flower fluids as well.

Letter 8 – Fly Eggs on Taco Filling

 

bug eggs
Hi There
Please don’t be disturbed by this photo, as it isn’t poo, it’s actually some taco mince. ANYWAY it hadn’t been sitting in the pan for that long, but when i went back there were these 2 bunches of white egg things something had laid there. I had a foil cover over it, but obviously i didn’t cover it very well. But yeah, do you by any chance know what kind of bug eggs they are? Like are they maggot eggs? The only other bugs i have seen around the place are ants (though there were none around near the eggs or anything), spiders (only really little ones and some daddy long legs) and a praying mantis i saw earlier around but i doubt it was that. So i’m guessing it was the flies =S Sorry if i sound like a complete idiot but i am just really curious.
Donna

Hi Donna,
You might be ruining tacos for some of our readers. They look like Fly Eggs. They are consistant with Fly behavior. We are going on the record that they are probably Fly Eggs which will hatch into Maggots. Often we get letters from people who just don’t understand where swarms of flies come from in their clean homes. Imagine a scenario where you didn’t notice the eggs, threw the meat in the garbage, waited a few days to take it outside during a heat spell. The eggs would hatch and develop quickly. The maggots would crawl out of the garbage to pupate and then miraculously appear as a swarm of flies in a few more day, after all evidence was removed. Thanks for sending in the photo.

Letter 9 – Fly Face in Macro

 

Fly Photo
Hi Daniel,
Here’s a photo of a fly I’d like to share with you. It’s a macro shot of a fly’s face. I thought you might like to see it.
Keep up the good work.
Bill DuPree
Atlanta, Georgia

Hi Bill,
Thank you so much for sending your excellent photo in. We don’t really discriminate between good and poor quality images when we post on our site since even the poorest quality images can be used for identification, but we always enjoy getting excellent images. Since the invention of the modern microscope, the fly has often been a subject deemed worthy of magnification.

Letter 10 – Fly that looks like a Beetle from Malaysia

 

Weird beetle fly thing
March 29, 2010
Hey,
I found a weird looking fly beetle thing while I was eating my lunch. No idea what it is. It has a head and proboscis of a fly but has a blue green luminescent body of a beetle. It look like a decorative christmas bauble. I don’t think you have one of these on your website. Or do you?
Any ideas?
Aidan
Cheras, Malaysia

Beetle-Fly

Hi Aidan,
That is one strange bug.  Its head and face are distinctly those of a fly, yet it resembles a beetle.  We are posting your mystery insect and we will try to get some assistance from Eric Eaton.  Your photos are quite impressive, and the views from three distinct angles will enable an expert to be able to assess this critter’s anatomy.  How big is it?

Beetle-Fly

Until we find out exactly what this is, we are calling it a Beetlefly, or more correctly Beetle Fly, and though we rather detest the hyphen, in this case, it seems the most appropriate to be written Beetle-Fly.

Beetle-Fly (we made up that name)

Ed. Note
After receiving a comment from Mardidavana, we found Celyphidae, the Beetle Flies, on Wikipedia.

Thanks,
Well it is practically the size of a lady bird. By the way, who is this Eric Eaton? We just gave it some sugar water and it started sucking away with it’s fly-like proboscis.

Letter 11 – Giant Flower Loving Fly

 

Giant flower-loving fly Greetings,
First off thank you for your time. I believe this belongs to the genus of giant flower loving flys could you tell me which species and why. Also where would I look to find such info. Thanks Again,
John Ivanov

Hi Daniel,
The picture is from 2 weeks ago in South Western Kern County. Thanks
John Ivanov

Hi again John,
So, it was photographed in California. Thanks for writing back to us with a location. We hope our readership will forgive us for not keeping true to our recent “threat” to place all letters without locations directly into the trash because we recognized this would be an excellent addition to our archives. The genus of Giant Flower Loving Flies that you mention is Apiocera, in the family Apioceridae, and BugGuide only has one mounted specimen in the archives and no real information. Geocities has wonderful images of an Australian species, Apiocera asilica, and the general body shape resembles your specimen, but the coloration is quite different. Wikipedia indicates: “The Apioceridae , or flower-loving flies , are a small (approximately 150 species) family of flies , all in the single genus Apiocera . They occur mostly in dry sandy habitats in the deserts of North America ,South America , and Australia.” and “Apiocerids are found in sandy, arid and semiarid habitats. Hovering over bare patches of ground they can emit a loud hum. Despite the common name, most Apiocera never visit flowers, but rather are found running on the ground near sparse vegetation, or feeding on honeydew beneath aphid -infested plants. They are often seen drinking from damp sand with their sponge-like mouth-parts.” Your specimen appears to have more of a pointed long proboscis similar to the Bee Flies in the family Bombyliidae (well represented on BugGuide but not matching images), and quite different from the images on Geocities. A photo of a mounted specimen of Apiocera haruspex has a striking similarity to the contours of the fly in your photo, especially the terminal portions of the abdomen, but the proboscis is not visible. That is a long and inconclusive response on our part. We will contact Eric Eaton, who currently has computer problems and may not respond quickly, and hope he can provide some insight. Additionally, some reader may have an answer. Since Giant Flower Loving Flies are not common, and a specialist is needed, this may take some time.

Update from Eric Eaton (08/04/2008)
Wow! Most definitely a giant flower-loving fly! What a great find! Male, too, evidenced by the very bulbous tip of the abdomen. Rick Rogers is the expert on these. He is also a singer and all-round entertainer in the Los Angeles area. Sorry I don’t have his e-mail handy to give to you. I’m curious whether this is the famous, endangered Delhi Sands flower-loving fly….
Eric

Update: (08/04/2008)
Hello again Daniel (sorry not Eric), I did get a hold of Rick, he thought Raphiomidas undulatus / acton. I just sent him the location and am waiting for a response. It looks like it might be acton but I haven’t keyed it out nor am I really familiar with insects. Cheers,
John Ivanov

Letter 12 – Golden Dung Fly

 

Golden Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria), New Hope, PA
Taken last week while visiting friends for Passover. They have a sheep farm and with sheep come, well, dung. Upon the dung were these lovely golden fuzzy flies. I did my best to get a couple photos of these quick moving critters. This particular one is a larger one. There was a smaller sized fly of the same variety hanging out nearby (presumably the opposite sex). I was able to identify them through buggide.net .
Tamar

Hi Tamar,
Thanks so much for adding a new species to our website. The Golden Dung Fly is a very welcome addition.

Letter 13 – Gold Hover Fly

 

Subject: Golden metallic fly
Geographic location of the bug:  Virginia, usa
Date: 10/07/2018
Time: 09:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you ID this very shiny golden fly? I am at a loss.
How you want your letter signed:  Virginia farm bugwatcher

Gold Hover Fly

Dear Virginia far bugwatcher,
We have not had any luck in our initial search for an identity, but the large eyes lead us to believe this is a male member of the species.  The antennae are also quite distinctive.  Our initial instinct is that this might be a Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae, but a BugGuide search of that family did not turn up any matching images.  How large was this individual?  We are posting your request and perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist with the identification.

Thank you for this response!
It was a fairly large fly, larger than a housefly but smaller than a honeybee.
I think it is quite beautiful. I hope some one knows what it is.
Eric Eaton responds to our request for assistance.
Hi, Daniel:

Eristalinus aeneus is the species.  Those eyes are really something!
Eric
Ed. Note:  According to BugGuide:  “Native to Europe, adventive in NA and now widespread in e. NA (ON-FL)” and “In Europe, larvae often found associated with decaying seaweed.”

You rock!!
This makes me very happy. Thank you,
Nell

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Flies

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • this is a NON-EDIBILITY related comment:

    what do you have against the hyphen??

    Reply
  • It should be some kind of Celyphidae.

    Reply
  • For the past week I thought mosquitoes were biting me…. Well, it wasn’t that. I have over 70 little bites on my body and the other night it was dark and I kept seeing these little flies while I was on the computer. . They looked like fruit flies but weren’t. What the heck are they and how do I get them not to bite me? Every morning I wake up with more! Someone told me to get rid of my bamboo plants in my room because I saw them in there. I am now on prednisone because I’m so swollen! Help!!

    Reply

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