What do drain flies look like? Drain flies are small insects that have tan or light gray bodies. They have a fuzzy appearance due to the long hairs on them. Their wings are folded to cover their body when resting and may give them a dark appearance.
Drain flies may be confused with other small insects such as moths. To be clear on what they are, below is a picture of a drain fly that shows what they look like.
What causes drain flies
The main cause of drain flies is stagnant dirty water that is polluted. This is always found in drains and that is what attracts them. After the adults settle there, they will lay eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae that feed on slime found in dirty drains.
This can explain why an infestation occurs in bathroom drains, kitchen sinks, and outdoor pipes. There is always stagnant water around those areas. Another cause of drain flies is house plants. If they are watered in exes, they will retain water and become damp.
How to get rid of drain flies
The fight against drain flies should start by eliminating their breeding areas. This will simplify the elimination process and there will be no more flies in your drains.
Pour 1 liter of hot water into a clean bucket and add 1 cup of bleach to it then flush it down the rain to kill drain flies and their young ones. Ensure that the water is distilled and if possible, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the solution before you flush it down the drain.
1. Clean the drains
Wash the drain using a pipe brush to scrub off any organic matter stuck on it. A snake hose can then be used to pull off clumps that cause blockage. To ensure that the gunk is removed, use your favorite drain cleaner to finish up the process.
This will remove any stuff clogging the drain that may have been left. This process helps in killing drain fly larvae. Remember to remove any hair that may block the drains.
2. Fly swatters
Since drain flies are known to land on surfaces near their breeding grounds, it is possible to get rid of them using a swatter. In case they stick on the swatter, clean them off using a damp piece of cloth.
fly swatters are easy to use on drain flies as they tend to congregate on the walls close to their breeding grounds. Use a standard fly swatter to get rid of as many flies as possible. Do this as many times as may be necessary until none is left.
3. Drain fly Trap
It is possible to make traps for the flies at home. These will lure the flies into their death traps. Here is how to make a drain fly trap:
- Put 1 teaspoon of sugar in a clean container
- Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of distilled water
- Add three drops of dish soap and mix all ingredients
- Leave the trap around where there are fruit flies overnight
- The trap will attract the fly and they will drown to death
If there are other flies as well, you can set up several homemade fly traps that will help in getting rid of those flies.
4. Dish soap spray
Liquid dish wash soap is also an effective product with insecticidal properties as it contains borax. Here is how to use a sop spray to kill drain flies:
- Pour two cups of warm water into a spray bottle
- Add 1/2 cup of dish soap
- Spray this directly on the drain flies to kill them
- They will die when they come into contact with it
5. Chemical sprays
These help to get rid of the files instantly. Although they work fast, they have the disadvantage of containing toxic chemicals. Drain fly killer products play a great role in getting rid of mature flies.
The best way to kill drain flies fast is by the use of drain fly spray. This kills the insects upon contact and therefore works quickly.
However, it comes with some disadvantages. The sprays are made using toxic chemicals. These should only be used when it is really necessary to avoid spreading toxins from them.
Space sprays may work best. Ensure that all doors and windows are closed around where there is an infestation. This will also keep other bugs that come out of drains like roaches and springtails away.
Spray the area as may be instructed by the manufacturer. Leave the area enclosed for around 15 minutes without interference. This should get rid of them. Use frequently until all insects are gone.
6. Drain fly gel
Drain gel cleaners are important in the fight against drain flies. They are formulated to get rid of organic matter in the drains. When this is done, the breeding ground and source of food for the flies are eliminated. This works towards getting rid of them.
The gel is poured into the drain and applied to its edges as well. For effective elimination of the flies, this may have to be done for up to seven days. After applying the gel, let it work on the organic matter for a few hours after which you pour water.
To eliminate fruit flies, one has to get rid of adult flies, their eggs, and larvae. To get rid of the eggs and larvae, one has to identify where the breeding ground for the insects is.
This will most probably be in some moist and clogged drain. Once identified, the drain has to be cleaned thoroughly. This will help get rid of the eggs, larvae, and pupae. After this, one can get rid of adult flies using appropriate methods. This should be done consistently until the whole population is eliminated.
How to control and prevent drain flies
To control drain flies, one needs to get rid of their breeding grounds. This means eliminating organic material that may have collected in and around drains. Getting rid of the matter clogging the drain helps to get rid of drain flies and their larvae as well.
With this, the only problem will then be adult flies. With no place for them to lay eggs, they should die within a short time as their life cycle is short. Keeping a clean drain helps in keeping them away.
- Clear up the drains and keep them free from clogging.
- Drain any stagnant water in kitchens and bathrooms.
- Spray insect growth regulators in the drains to prevent larvae from pupating.
- Kill the adult flies.
When this has been achieved, attention should be shifted to killing drain flies that have matured already. Below are different steps to take which will help how to kill drain flies.
After the process is through, one needs to do basic maintenance on regular basis to avoid recurrence. This should be easier than doing the whole process on how to kill drain flies when they attack.
Applying insect growth regulators frequently can go a long way in preventing any larvae that may be in the drains from maturing.
Identify their breeding grounds
It is relatively easy to figure out where the flies are coming from. This will be their breeding as well as their feeding area.
Duct tape can be used in this. Cover the suspected drains on their open end. Ensure some opening is left so they will want to get out. Covering ¾ of it would be enough. The drain from which they are coming should have some flies stuck on it.
Where are drain flies found?
Drain flies are known to feed on sewerage organic matter. They are found in bathrooms, basement walls, and the kitchen as well. The flies are not known to bite or cause any disease in human beings.
When they mature, they breed in any place containing organic matter and lay irregular masses of eggs. In favorable conditions, one week is enough for a new generation to arise. Where they are not, this could take between two to three weeks.
When an infestation occurs, adult drain flies become visible. They can be found resting on bathroom walls or around their breeding area. Where one can identify their breeding ground, the larvae can be seen moving around.
The presence of drain flies in the bathroom is common. Just like springtails in the bathroom, drain flies need a moist breeding ground for them to multiply as well as some organic matter on which they can feed.
Are drain flies important?
Drain fly larvae when in small numbers are thought to be useful as they break down biodegradable materials found in drains. This helps to get rid of the build-up as well as slime. This way, the pipes, and drains are prevented from clogging.
When drain flies mature, they lay eggs in areas containing organic matter. Within 48 hours of being laid, the eggs hatch into drain flies larvae.
The drain fly is important in water-based ecosystems. However, when found in homes in large populations, they become a problem.
For this to happen, the flies must get a favorable place for their existence. Such places could be in storm drains, close to decaying compost, and decaying logs.
Drain fly larvae
These then feed on what is available in the drains. They can survive in areas with high temperatures as well as low oxygen levels.
In most cases, the drain fly larvae are not visible as they are found in the innermost parts of the drain. In case the drain is dismantled though, it would be possible to see them.
The larvae are slender and white with no legs and eyes. They have a breathing tube that tends to extend out of the organic matter so they can obtain air. Once they mature, the drain fly larvae pupate. This stage lasts until a mature fly emerges.
To get rid of them, one first has to identify what attracts them in the bathroom. After this elimination tactics have to be applied to ensure the flies are eliminated.
- Michigan State University: Moth flies or drains flies – Plant & Pest Diagnostics
- The University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Drain flies & fungus gnats – Nebraska Extension Community Environment
Calina Mabel has over 15 years of experience in the field of journalism and communications. Currently, Calina Mabel is the Content Writer for categories such as Cockroach, Ants, Bed Bugs, Mosquito, Rodent, Termite, and Flies on Pestweek.com. She aims to build content for these categories with a focus on providing valuable and accessible information to readers, in order to create the world’s largest knowledge community about Pests.
All content written by Calina Mabel has been reviewed by Emily Carter.