Welcome to Sustainable Baby Steps

In my years of green living, I've found the simplest, easiest way to help others "go green" is through introducing them to the many uses of essential oils. Want to learn more about how I do that?

Get a Free Guide

How to Get Rid of Flies and Fruit Flies Naturally

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Flies and Fruit Flies, via SustainableBabySteps.com

Need to get rid of flies too, huh? We had this question come in from one of our readers:

We seem to get either a daily batch of ladybugs or flies this time of year. Right now it is flies. Is there some reason they come inside this time of year and what is the best way to get rid of and prevent them?

I can relate. Times ten. Once upon a time, we decided to turn our entire front yard into an edible landscape and started by adding layers of horse manure....that unbeknownst to us was infested with fly larvae. You guys. It was like Armageddon out there. It was like 10,000 little World War II Red Barron's were dive-bombing our heads anytime we stepped outside. And it was like that for 2 weeks. #neighborsloveme

So needless to say, I've had some practice in getting rid of flies.

Just like spiders or other insects, flies tend to come inside for two reasons: either to get out of the cold or to find a food source.

To some extent this is going to be unavoidable. In other words, we're always going to find an insect or fly here or there. Creating a completely sterile environment is going to be impossible unless you want to resort to massive amounts of chemicals, which if you're here, I'm pretty sure you don't.

There are two main ways to get rid of flies through prevention:

  • Removing their food source
  • And sealing their way in

Start by putting screens on your windows and doors and checking for drafts. This will not only prevent flies from getting inside it can help you lower your heating bill in the winter by preventing the escape of heat and lower your AC bill in the summer by allowing you to open doors and windows during the cooler parts of the day.

Once you've done that check around outside for any food sources.

Do you have a compost pile swarming with flies? This is a good indication that your "greens" and "browns" aren't balanced. Or you might simply cover the pile with leaves, straw, or something else to keep odors done while it's decomposing. (Read more about home composting here.)

Do you have barn animals that attract flies? It may seem like a no-win situation but it's not. Getting the proper bedding in a chicken coop helps to turn their poo into compost faster (and keep them warm in the winter). And adopting some permaculture or sustainable practices - such as more space, co-mingling (chickens break up cow poop and turn it into the soil), proper bedding, and so on.

If you have a garden, compost pile, or are working towards it you might consider some backyard chickens just to pick through compost and gobble up the larvae before it has the chance to turn into a fly infestation.

Removing their food source from indoors is also important in order to get rid of flies. Make sure you trash can has a lid (you may even want to add some baking soda to the bottom of the can to decrease odor). Any indoor compost pail that is awaiting being transferred should also be maintained - take it outside frequently, cover it with a cloth cover (look on Etsy), or keep it closed altogether so no odor can attract flies. Make sure cat boxes are cleaned frequently and check for any other problem areas in the home (but mostly you'll find them in the kitchen).

All of these things will help prevent them, but how do you actually get rid of flies and fruit flies?

Well, prevention and patience is the simplest route. Their lifespan isn't that long and once you take away their food source they'll die pretty quickly.

But if you need to get rid of flies quickly (let's say you have company coming for dinner) there are a few things you can do.

You can grab your vacuum attachment and suck them right out of the air. No joke. It works and it's kinda fun - heck, you can get the kids involved and see who can get the most points.

You can attract them into a fly trap, such as this reusable and non-toxic version that we've used for serious infestations in our yard.

Or you can make a homemade fly trap. Start a plastic container with a lid, something you don't mind never using for anything but flies (the kind that your sour cream comes in, for instance). Take a knife and puncture some small slits in the lid, as many as you'd like. These need to be just big enough for it to crawl into, so small for fruit flies. Another option is to use a plastic 2 liter bottle stolen from your neighbor's trash (cuz we don't use plastic anymore, right? *ahem*). Cut off the top of the bottle and turn this part upside down so that the opening is now creating a funnel into the bottle. The genius flies can crawl in but not back out again. (Don't ask me why. They just don't get it.) You can also create a trap like this with a mason jar and paper funnel.

Once you have your trap, you'll need your bait. I've found that no one solution is ever guaranteed, so test out a few options to see which your flies go for. For fruit flies, you can try vinegar, white wine, or even just some rotting fruit inside from your compost pail inside. The stronger the aroma, the better. You might consider mixing soap and vinegar to attract and then coat their wings so they can't fly. Experiment with bitter, sour, and sweet items (such as juice). Again, we've never personally had luck with any one option.

Once your trap is filled you have two options: throw it away and start again, or pop it in the freezer (or outside if it's cold) to kill the flies. You can rotate two traps this way, cleaning them out and refreshing their bait as needed.

But maybe you want to have a little fun and introduce your kids to the wonders of Nature? Yes, I'm thinking of a venus fly trap. :)

Have you found a great bait or trick to get rid of flies or fruit flies? Leave your comment below!

Sign to Receive Our FREE Newsletter + Oily Recipes + Top 10 Oils Mini-Course