In North America, houseflies tend to be active from spring through fall, generally reaching peak activity during the summer.
Landing on the food at your backyard barbecue. Buzzing around your face as you do yard work. Zipping through your front door as soon as you open it.
Beyond being a nuisance, flies carry a wide variety of germs (such as the bacteria that cause anthrax, typhoid, stomach ulcers, cholera, dysentery, and tuberculosis, as well as less serious illnesses), which they deposit wherever they land—including that hamburger you’re about to bite into.
While there are thousands of species of flies, Musca domestica is the variety most likely to bug you both inside and outside your home, found as they are on every continent inhabited by humans, in climates from the arctic cold to the tropical heat.
The average female fly has a lifespan of about 1 month, but in that time she can lay about 500 eggs. Obviously, even a handful of female flies around your patio could translate into thousands of flies in a very short time. Because flies feed on garbage and feces, they transmit diseases, so you should do all you can to keep their population to a minimum.
A female housefly generally lays more than 100 eggs after mating, and the eggs hatch astonishingly quickly. Maggots spawn in less than eight hours if the weather is warm enough. Fortunately, you can get rid of the flies that plague your property, and you can do so without using poisons that could put your pets and family at risk.
The first step in the successful control of a fly problem is inspecting your property to determine where the flies are living and breeding, and how the flies are getting into the house. Once this is known, sanitation, exclusion, and mechanical or chemical controls will help to keep them out.
See where they are landing or resting; find out what is attracting them. Identify the flies. Understanding whether you are dealing with house flies, blowflies, cluster flies, or other large flies will determine the type of management needed. If there are a lot of flies, there is probably a breeding site either on your property or a neighboring one.
When the source is not on your property try to locate it and have the responsible persons help solve the problem. If cooperation cannot be obtained from the neighboring person or business, you can contact your municipal or state health department to seek assistance. Although you can temporarily reduce populations by killing the adult flies, you can’t gain full control until you find and eliminate the source.
These uninvited insects can’t fly well in strong breezes, so set up an oscillating fan on an extension cord near your backyard grill, picnic table, or any other area where you congregate outside. When flies feel the gust, they’ll head in the opposite direction.
Roll a stiff piece of paper into a cone long enough to reach from the top of the jar to just above the level of the liquid, and snip off the tip. Tape the cone inside the jar with the wide end filling the jar’s mouth and the cone’s tip right above the sugar water.
Citronella, a highly aromatic oil distilled from several varieties of lemongrass, repels both flies and mosquitoes. Light a few of these fragrant candles and set them on your picnic table, porch, or grill area; the strong scent serves as a “not welcome” sign to winged nuisances. It’s immediate, effective, and strangely satisfying to swat flies dead.
These devices (most resemble small tennis rackets) electrocute flying bugs with a loud zap. Flies hate the smell of this liquor, so fill a few small plastic sandwich bags halfway with the cheap stuff, zip the bags most of the way shut, and then use twine or string and some heavy-duty clothespins to hang the bags around your yard.
Instead of buying commercial scented fly strips to deter the pests, make your own with the essential oils that fly hate. Simply cut a piece of cloth into strips 12 inches long and one inch wide. Moisten each strip with several drops of any of the following: clove, lavender, lemongrass, citronella, eucalyptus, rosemary, or mint.
Once you’ve given pests the heave-ho, discourage their re-entry of flies and maggots with these smart strategies: Flies love open garbage pails, uncovered compost bins, and dog droppings. So tidy up after outdoor parties and keep a tight lid on trash cans and compost. If the family pooch does his business in the yard, clean up after him immediately.
Hungry arachnids will devour any flies they can snare. Surround your patio or barbecue with the potted herbs that flies hate. That includes basil, lavender, and mint. Don’t let pools of water sit stagnant around your yard. Flies need to drink water and so are drawn to puddles, birdbaths, and soggy patches caused by dripping sprinklers.
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