Help, My House is Full of Flies

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Dear Home Ec 101,

Every day I am killing ten to twenty house flies and horseflies. This happens every summer. I don’t know if it’s the compost pile we have out back or the fact that one of our neighbors aren’t that great about picking up after their pets or our other neighbors don’t ever seem to keep the lids on their trash super tight.

I don’t know what causes this annual fly invasion but I am pulling my hair out and I need some help. What can I do to get rid of these pests? They are driving me crazy. I have tried fly paper and glue traps. I tried the baggy of water over the door, the flies keep coming. What can I do?

Bugged in Buxton

Flies are the absolute worst. It might be a sensory thing for me, but few things bother me more than trying to cook and being buzzed and dive-bombed by a pesky fly.

I have also tried and failed with fly paper, baggies of water, and glue traps. None of them did much except make a mess or add to an afternoon’s entertainment when some chaos unfolded and they were inadvertently bumped into. (See the fact that we have a plethora of children around here.)

This summer we have taken a two-fold approach to ridding our home of flies. First, as we have many children who are not always the best at quickly shutting the door, we got a magnetic screen for five dollars at the Dollar General. You can find a slightly less shoddy one at Amazon. This was just a test run; we’ll install a real screen door next year. This did cut down on our fly invasion.

However, I was still shelling out money to the older kids on the fly bounty I have.

Our second and much more successful tactic was using disposable, hanging outdoor fly traps. Oh, but Heather, you can make your own.

Do you have any idea how many times I have tried making my own fly traps? Many. I have tried and tested dozens of fly traps as experiments for this site over the years. Nothing has come close to this. I’ve killed a dozen flies here or there, drowning them in concoctions I’ve made from recipes I’ve found on various websites, including the agricultural extensions I always recommend as resources.

Nothing has come even close to these hanging outdoor fly traps in effectiveness.

All you need to do is add water. and hang.

However, I do want to be very honest. These do have one drawback. As my English boss would say, they are a bit… whiffy.

The good news is that you don’t want to hang them right where you want to be. That would defeat the entire purpose.

The fly traps work to attract the flies, who then crawl in and get trapped. You hang them 20 – 30 feet away from anywhere the flies have been bothering you. We have placed the flies at the four corners of our backyard, and now, We have had exactly two flies in our house in the last three weeks. We will replace these bags in another week, which will carry us through the end of fly season, and that will have been well worth the cost for the peace.


It is a late summer miracle.

flies crawling inside of an outdoor hanging fly trap
So exquisitely disgusting.

Don’t forget to check inside for flies, too.

Now, if you have been struggling with flies for a while, it is important to do a thorough kitchen cleanout. A fly could have figured out an unexpected place to reproduce.

Check behind and underneath all of your major appliances and in all of your cabinetry for. . . a stray potato or onion. Unfortunately, flies love rotten potatoes and onions. There is also the sad possibility that a rodent passed away, especially if poison was used. It’s not fun, but disposing of the food/breeding ground source will allow you to get rid of your unwanted housemates sooner rather than later and enjoy your home in peace.

One last trick up my sleeve.

If you have a fly pestering you, and you just can’t get it to leave you alone. Turn off your lights and turn on the light in the next room. Flies are attracted to light and will be drawn toward the new light source, and hopefully, you’ll be able to shut a door between you and it to give yourself some peace.

If you have any domestic questions, please reach out to

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