Help, my house is being colonized by flies!
June 10, 2012 7:29 AM   Subscribe

We are going to die under swarms of flies, how the hell are they getting in the house and how do we get rid of them?

At the beginning of last week we found about 30 flies standing by our window. Out house is pretty clean, so we assumed it was a widow that had been open or maybe our back door. We got rid of them, completely disinfected the whole house and went to bed.

The next day, there were at least FIFTY flies! on the same living room window!

They are super black and kind of chunky. Buzzy and also not so quick. It pretty easy to kill them. Is it possible they get in through the AC vents? we have moved everything (fridge, cooker) and scrubbed and disinfected the floors. We thought for a while that our cat had brought in something, but have not been able to find any mice or birds.

I can't smell anything rotting, the house is spotless and all the windows and doors are closed. The only food that out is the cat's, but they don;t seem to interested in it.
posted by Tarumba to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Blow flies! We had these - we thought we were living in the Amityville Horror house. We never found the source.

(also, previously.)
posted by peagood at 7:37 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

We had a fly infestation once because a squirrel had died in the attic. There was no smell, but flies coming out the the light fixtures. Pretty gross.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:42 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If it is a small carcass you probably won't be able to smell it. Can your cat (or local predators) get into any kind of a crawlspace below your house, or one of those "just big enough to cause havoc" attic-ish spaces between the ceiling and roof?
posted by SMPA at 7:44 AM on June 10, 2012

Yes, these are blow flies. I had this once some years ago and couldn't find the source but I knew it was from a dead critter somewhere, probably a mouse, given where I was living at the time. Like you, I couldn't smell anything rotting, or work out where they'd come from but once they were dead (sprayed to oblivion) that was the end of it, as they hadn't had time to multiply. But yeah, it really squicked me out to find them, particularly as it was close to Christmas, not the time I'd expect to find a swarm of flies.
posted by essexjan at 8:09 AM on June 10, 2012

Use the vacuum cleaner to get rid of them. Spray the bag, or dirt container if bagless, then hoover them up.
posted by theora55 at 8:14 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh god, we just went through this last month. Every evening when we came home from work we'd find 40+ (!!!!!!!!) enormous slow-moving flies chilling by the kitchen windows. They were easy to kill since they were so big and slow but it got annoying and gross to have to kill so many every day. I hung some fly strips on the windows and we bombed every crack inside and outside with nasty fly killer. Within two days we stopped seeing flies altogether. Fingers crossed it doesn't happen again. Ugh!

We never found where they were coming from but I am guessing something died in the ceiling. On some level I'd rather just not know.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:20 AM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: I found for gnats/fruit flies, sitting out a little dish filled with apple cider vinegar and dish soap worked WONDERS. The little bastards swarmed to the cider vinegar, then drowned because the soap breaks the surface tension on the vinegar, thus causing them to fall in. I have NO idea if it would work as well with blow flies, but it may be worth a shot.
[FWIW we used roughly 85% cider vinegar and 15% Dawn soap, in a small ashtray or saucer that had a decent dip in it. I've read multiple sites that recommend using more/less soap, some saying half and half and others saying a couple drops soap to several cups vinegar...but I think our solution worked fine.]
posted by PeppahCat at 8:24 AM on June 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Check the sink drains. If there's food in the garbage disposal that hasn't been washed away, it could be full of fly eggs. And make sure to check all the trash cans. Anywhere a hunk of food could have fallen or gotten lost could be a breeding ground for flies.
posted by nonasuch at 9:01 AM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If they are cluster flies (which are related to blow flies, apparently) then I highly recommend the Cluster Buster. We were suddenly inundated with these creatures a year ago (I went through the same cleaning frenzy, wondering where the dead critter was rotting, etc) and at first we used those window decals. They killed the flies, but live flies gross me out enough; finding piles of dead ones literally gagged me. The Cluster Buster collects the flies out of sight and has worked miracles in our house.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:21 AM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: Sound like cluster flies to me, too--"Buzzy and also not so quick" describes them perfectly. They're usually associated with the autumn, when adult flies creep into the sunny side of the house to find a place to spend the winter, but in my house it was the beginning of the summer: young flies emerged disgustingly through my kitchen wall where that room is dug into the hillside behind my house. Their larval stage is underground, since they're parasitic on earthworms; must have been a big batch of pupae in the soil on the other side of the wall. (The fact that they were coming through the wall shows that closing windows won't keep them out.) It was really gross, and complicated by the fact that at the same time there was a dead rat in the ceiling cavity above the kitchen, which they had absolutely nothing to do with--took me a while to realize that.

Anyway: I batted them out of the windows they clustered near, ate out (!), cleaned the kitchen obsessively, etc. The plague died down within a few days. I investigated the Cluster Buster and if they'd stayed around any longer I'd have ordered one on 24-hour delivery. I also took comfort from the fact that they aren't interested in human food--though I didn't leave any lying about.

That was last year, a little earlier in the summer than this, and I'm glad to say that this year they haven't reappeared (touch wood). No dead rats either.

I am now itching all over.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 9:38 AM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: Our house had this problem when we moved in. It went away after we assiduously cleaned all the drains and disinfected the crap out of the garbage disposal.

Also: take the trash out every day; check your fruit bowl; check the dishwasher (there's a bit on the sink where junk from the dishwasher accumulates on its way to the garbage disposal... pull off the cap and clean everything out.) Check your screens to make sure there aren't tiny rips letting bugs in. And hope to God that it isn't a dead squirrel in your wall! Aieeee!
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2012

Might not be from a rotting carcass - check your rugs/carpets as well.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:19 AM on June 10, 2012

We had that happen around a drain in our basement right after we moved in - and now I am shivering all over from the memory, so hey thanks!

We ended up signing up for an exterminator contract (though that was mainly for a separate ant thing) and no more flies, although that might just be coincidence.
posted by Nabubrush at 11:58 AM on June 10, 2012

Any chance they could be female carpenter ants rather than flies?
posted by jon1270 at 4:48 PM on June 10, 2012

Just as a counterpoint, my bride says the cluster buster did nothing for our infestations of ladybugs and cluster flies. Super-toxic sprays work, and we are seeing fewer and fewer each spring and fall.
posted by maxwelton at 10:18 PM on June 10, 2012

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