It’s fly season and you need a pool

Dear Home Ec 101,

Ugh. Now that it’s June, the flies have taken over. I can hardly sit outside because when I do, the flies keep biting me and it hurts!! I also have a few flies inside that don’t bite. Why do the flies outside bite and why don’t the inside flies bite? Also, how do I get rid of them all?


They’re a pain in my, um, foot.

Ivy says:

You’re dealing with two different kinds of flies, there. The flies that are biting are black flies and the non-biting kind are house flies. Black flies, especially when they’re outside, are pretty hard to kill. I’ve read different strategies of killing them when they are in the larval stage like damming up running streams and putting chemicals in these water sources, but to be honest- those are not ecologically safe and I cannot recommend them.

Instead of trying to kill them, my suggestion is trying to keep them away from you. You can use any insect repellent- citronella seems to be safe and effective. Also, wearing light colored clothing seems to keep them away as well. Black flies are relatives of mosquitoes, so the advice that is usually given to avoid mosquitoes is similar to that of keeping black flies away.

House flies are much easier to get rid of. My preferred method, when there aren’t tons of house flies, is to use a fly swatter and kill them yourself. It gets out your aggression and gets rid of the flies all at once. If you have too many to kill with a fly swatter, consider using a fly trap or fly strip. One time I managed to get a ton of flies in my house when I was moving and the door was open a whole lot. I used a fly strip and they were all gone within a week. Awesome.

The key to keeping the house fly population down is prevention. Keeping your kitchen spotlessly clean is important. If you don’t have a bunch of dirty dishes and/or food out, the flies won’t have anything to eat and will die off more quickly. Make sure any outdoor trash cans are far from any entrances to your house. Make sure you take the trash that is inside your house, out as soon as possible. Also, make sure to keep your drains clean- sometimes they go down into your drains and breed there. Ewwww!

Everyone gets a few flies in the summer- I’m currently typing with a fly harassing my computer screen. Shut the door, kids!!


  1. suemaynard on June 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I know this is an old conversation. But I have a useful suggestion to add, so I will, on the off chance anyone stumbles on this post. My bedroom used to be a south-facing, upstairs room in an old farmhouse. The fly potential in that room was insane – until one year I figured out what to do. I hung fly strips up in early spring, before I really noticed any fly problem. They caught a few flies as spring came for real, but the huge numbers of flies never materialized. Works every year I’ve done it! Prior to using this method, I would hang fly strips once I had a problem with the fly numbers, and they were always covered.

  2. Jane on June 5, 2008 at 8:52 am

    I have a great suggestion, it’s expensive, but it works. Simply move to Denver. Because of the altitude and lack of humidity, we have very few bugs. No termites, no fleas, no dust mites, teeny tiny flies. Few mosquitos, no fire ants. When I lived back East, those big green horseflies were beasts, and when they bit you they’d leave a big hole on whatever flesh was exposed. In Florida, they have attack roaches.

    Move to Denver. Problem solved.

  3. Mom of three on June 4, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Dang, Melinda, that was my suggestion. Didn’t know why it works, but it seems to. And you never have to change it. Just hang it there and forget it.

  4. Melinda on June 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I have a suggestion. It’s pretty redneck, but it works. Take a baggie and fill it with water. Attach it above your door frame. The flies see their reflection and it scares them off. No more flies inside your house. Sorry, it doesn’t help outside so much. You could always have a small cup of sweet juice sitting out that they can fly into, but can’t get out of because they get their wings wet.


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