A fly sitting on a flower

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Common types of flies

Flies are found in homes and businesses across the United States. They are a nuisance no matter where they are, and they love populated cities. Flies are a particular problem in cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New York and other large urban areas.

Different fly species are more common than others, like the house fly, fruit flies, and drain flies. Some types of flies are only attracted to environments that are suited to their natural habits and lifecycles like the bluebottle fly, flesh fly, and sand fly. Knowing about the habits, seasonality, and life cycle of different types of flies can help identify the most effective prevention and fly control methods.

Our Ehrlich specialists are trained on all fly species and will be able to identify what type is infesting your home, what could be attracting them, and what control method will work the best to eliminate them. If you’re having problems with flies, contact an Ehrlich specialist today at 800-837-5520.

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Bluebottle fly

(Calliphora vomitoria)

Bluebottle flies (also known as the blow fly) get their name from their iridescent colors that resemble colored bottles. They can often be seen hovering around garbage cans and are attracted to dog feces and dead animals. The bluebottle fly is known to carry diseases such as typhoid, E. coli, tuberculosis, and many others.

The lifecycle of a bluebottle fly is pretty short. Eggs hatch in roughly 0–18 hrs, and the larva stage lasts 2-3 days. The pupae stage lasts around two weeks, and adults become mature in about two weeks, breeding in mostly meat derived substances or sometimes cheese.

Bluebottle fly on a leaf

Key facts

  • Size: Adults are ¼ " - ½ " in length
  • Color: Metallic blue
  • Habitat: Barnyards, pastures, pet feces, deceased bodies/animals, decaying food
  • Bite: Do not bite or sting humans or animals

Cluster fly

(Pollenia rudis)

Cluster flies, sometimes called attic flies, are commonly found in quiet, undisturbed parts of your home. They congregate in large numbers and require warm places to hibernate during the cold winter months. You may see a large group of cluster flies around a window in your attic, as they are attracted to the light on sunny winter days.

Cluster fly eggs are laid in the soil in late summer or early autumn. The larva develops in earthworms and they molt and pupate in the soil. The development time from egg to adult is about 27-39 days.

Cluster fly on the side of a house

Key facts

  • Size: ¼” – ⅜” in length
  • Color: Dark grey-olive thorax clothed with crinkled golden-brown hairs
  • Habitat: In warmer months, they prefer grasslands and lots of sunlight. In colder months they hide in attics, cracks, crevices, and wall voids
  • Bite: Do not bite humans or animals

Drain fly


Drain flies are also sometimes referred to as sewage flies and moth flies. Drain flies are very persistent and often associated with sewage beds, where larvae feed on sludge-like organic matter. Their wings are densely covered in hair and hold a tent-like shape over the body when at rest.

Adult dain flies lay anywhere from 30-100 eggs, and they hatch in roughly 48 hours. Larvae take anywhere from 10–50 days to mature, while the pupae only take 1–3 days to mature. Adult drain flies live about two weeks.

Drain fly

Key facts

  • Size: 1/16” in length
  • Color: Tan colored body appears as grey
  • Habitat: Moist areas with organic matter - sinks, drains, and sewers; can also be found near compost piles and rotting logs
  • Bite: Do not bite humans or animals

Flesh fly

(Family - Sarcophagidae)

Flesh flies get their name because they plant their larvae in either spoiling meat or in the flesh of a decaying animal. They look similar to the house fly but are slightly larger. Flesh flies are found in both urban and suburban areas, but very rarely make appearances in houses or restaurants.

Flesh flies have a slightly longer lifecycle than other flies. Larvae feed for 3-14 days then move away to pupate in adjacent drier parts. They emerge as adults 10-15 days later, with the entire lifecycle lasting about 2-4 weeks.

Flesh fly standing on snow

Key facts

  • Size: ¼” - 9/16” in length
  • Color: Thorax is light grey with three dark longitudinal stripes; Abdomen is spotted with dark patches to give a checkerboard appearance
  • Habitat: Decaying wastes, excrement, human foods
  • Bite: Do not bite humans or animals

Fruit fly

(Drosophila species)

Unfortunately for home and business owners, fruit flies are very common. They are a huge pain and are present in homes, grocery stores, and restaurants. Fruit flies are often found infesting fruit or hovering around fermenting residues found in pubs, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens, and breweries. They are typically seen anywhere fruits and veggies sit out and spoil.

As you might expect, fruit flies breed in rotten fruit, unclean drains, and even cleaning utensils. The egg and larval stages last about eight days. Pupae will mature in about six days, and develop into adults in 7–30 days, where they live for 2–9 weeks.

Fruit fly

Key facts

  • Size: Less than ⅛” in length
  • Color: Yellow-brown or mottled in color
  • Habitat: Fruit, vegetables, drains, garbage bins, garbage disposals, empty pop and beer cans
  • Bite: Do not bite humans or animals

Horse fly

(Family tabanidae)

Horse flies are a particular pest to horses and other mammals. They are very large flies with mouthparts that work like miniature knives, which they use to slash open skin with a scissor-like motion. Male horse flies are mainly pollen and nectar feeders and are most active during daylight hours, but female horse flies require a blood meal before they can reproduce. Relentless biting attacks by females can result in reduced weight gain in some animals.

Eggs are laid in masses ranging from 100 to 1,000 eggs and hatch in 5–7 days. They spend the winter in the larval stage and pupate during the spring and early summer. The whole adult life cycle is 30 to 60 days.

Horse fly

Key facts

  • Size: ⅜” - 1”  in length
  • Color: Black to dark brown with green or black eyes
  • Habitat: Suburban and rural areas near wooded areas and water
  • Bite: Bites animals and humans which usually leave skin red, raised, itchy, and sometimes a rash develops

House fly

(Musca domestica)

House flies are major carriers of disease and can infest all property types. The house fly is attracted to all types of food, including human food, pet food, and animal feed, and they also like food waste and feces. Indoors, the house fly can be found resting on walls, floors, or ceilings. Outdoors, they can be seen on plants, the ground, fences, compost heaps and garbage cans.

House flies breed in moist decaying vegetable matter. Their eggs are laid in batches of 120 to 150 and can hatch in 8–72 hours. Larvae can take 3–60 days to mature, while pupae matures in 3–28 days.

House fly at a window

Key facts

  • Size: Adults are 3/16” – 5/16”  in length
  • Color: Grey thorax with four narrow stripes; buff or yellow-colored abdomen
  • Habitat: Decaying matter, human food, animal feces, garbage
  • Bite: Do not bite humans or animals

Phorid fly


The Phorid fly is usually mistaken for a fruit fly as they are both incredibly small. Phorid flies are commonly found wherever moisture exists and are most active during the warmer months. They are similar to drain flies and often cause clogged drains and damaged sewer lines.

Phorid flies have a relatively short life cyle. A female can lay 40 eggs in 12 hours, and larvae will feed for several days until it pupates. Adults can survive 1-2 months.

Phorid fly on a flower

Key facts

  • Size: About ⅛” in length
  • Color: Black or yellowish-brown
  • Habitat: Decaying plant and animal matter, drains, garbage containers, bathrooms, and kitchens
  • Bite: Do not bite humans or animals, but can transmit diseases

Sand fly

(Spiriverpa Lunulata)

Sand flies are a common pest you might encounter when you’re at the beach at night with your feet in the sand. They also live on sandy riverbanks with an open habitat free of shading trees. Adult sand flies can be seen from April to September and they can transmit diseases, such as sand fly fever, through their bite.

Their eggs are laid in damp soil with organic matter or in the water and hatch in about two weeks. Larvae mature in about three weeks, and pupae can take one to two weeks to mature; Adults will typically emerge in the evenings.

Sand fly standing on a bunch of leaves

Key facts

  • Size: Adults are ⅜”– almost ½” long
  • Color: Body has a pale grey color; eyes are bronze-brown; legs are dark reddish-brown
  • Habitat: Beaches, wetlands, creeks, rock crevices, rodent burrows
  • Bite: Females bite. typically during the evening and through the night

Dealing with fly infestations

Flies are a very common pest and infestations should not be taken lightly. An Ehrlich specialist can help you get rid of flies at your home or business. Your specialist will find out what type of fly is invading your home, implement a control method to fix the problem, and provide you with tips to prevent the flies from returning. Control methods can depend on your specific situation but may include bioremediation, baiting and application of pest control product.

Contact Ehrlich for fly control today at 800-837-5520.



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