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How to Get Rid of Drain Flies – A full Proof Method

How to Get Rid of Drain Flies – A full Proof Method

Getting rid of drain flies can be a persistent and frustrating challenge, often requiring more than conventional methods to truly eliminate the problem. While many turn to vinegar and baking soda concoctions, drain flies demand a more comprehensive approach due to their rapid reproductive cycle. In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore a multi-step process to effectively rid your home of drain flies and prevent their return.

Step 1: Keep your drain clean to create an environment less inviting for drain fly larvae. It’s crucial to maintain a clean drain. This includes regular cleaning of your garbage disposal and ensuring no food accumulates around the edges or in the nooks and crannies. Adopt a nightly routine of running and rinsing the disposal before bedtime to keep your drain clean.

Step 2: Kill the larvae with boiling water.  Tackling existing larvae is the next step, and pouring boiling water down the drain is a potent method. Given drain flies’ rapid life cycle, it’s essential to repeat this process for several days. Adult drain flies live for about two weeks, so I would recommend pouring boiling water in your drains for 15 days.  The boiling water on the first day may have killed the larvae in the drain, but it didn’t kill the adults flying around.  Those adults will return to the drain that evening to lay more eggs, starting the cycle again.  By consistently eliminating larvae, you disrupt their life cycle and prevent the recurrence of the issue.

Step 3: Natural Repellents and Biological Cleaners.  The use of natural repellents around drains, such as essential oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree oil), can help deter drain flies from laying eggs in your drain. Additionally, consider incorporating biological drain cleaners containing enzymes or bacteria to break down organic matter, preventing the buildup that attracts drain fly larvae.

You can also use a DIY Drain Cleaning Solution, such as a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, followed by hot water.  However, as I mentioned before, this is not a once-and-done method.  The key is to repeat the boiling water for 15 days to disrupt their life cycle. It is still recommended to do regular maintenance using these solutions to keep drains clear and less attractive to drain flies.

Step 4: Sealing Cracks and Gaps Address potential entry points by inspecting and sealing any cracks or gaps near drains and pipes. Closing off these openings denies drain flies access to your home, contributing to a long-term solution.

Step 5: Professional Pest Control: Acknowledge that severe infestations may require professional pest control services. Experts can identify the source of the problem and provide targeted solutions for effective and lasting elimination.

Step 7: Apple cider vinegar traps for Adult Flies.  This combats adult drain flies with an environmentally friendly trap.  The adult drain flies are attracted to the apple cider vinegar and drown in the solution. Enhance the trap by adding a drop of dish soap to break the surface tension, and cover the bowl with clear plastic wrap with a few holes poked into it, creating a confusing exit for the flies.  The flies smell the apple cider and fly through the holes but can’t find their way back out.

Step 8: Pour out any standing water in saucers under house plants, as drain flies can lay in other moist environments.  Observe house plants to ensure that you don’t see any pest activity. If you do, treat the house plant with an appropriate pest killer.

Keeping your kitchen and surrounding areas clean and dry is the best defense you have against drain flies.

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A Closer Look at Different Species of Drain Flies

While the mere mention of drain flies may evoke frustration and annoyance, delving into the diverse world of these tiny insects reveals a variety of species, each with its unique characteristics. Understanding the different types of drain flies is essential for implementing targeted elimination strategies. As if you haven’t had enough drain fly drama, let’s explore the intriguing realm of drain fly species and provide insights into their habits and habitats.
  1. Psychodidae Family: The Common Culprits
    • Most drain flies belong to the Psychodidae family, commonly known as “moth flies” or “filter flies.”
    • Psychoda and Clogmia are two prevalent genera within this family, each with distinct characteristics.
  2. Psychoda Genus: The Standard Drain Fly
    • Psychoda species are often the standard drain flies found in kitchens and bathrooms.
    • These small, dark flies measure about 1.5 to 5 millimeters in length.
    • Their fuzzy appearance and distinctive veined wings set them apart.
  3. Clogmia Genus: The Moth-Like Drain Fly
    • Clogmia, also known as “moth-like” or “moth flies,” is another common genus within the Psychodidae family.
    • These drain flies exhibit a unique moth-like appearance, with fuzzy wings and a distinctive coloration ranging from tan to dark brown.
  4. Telmatoscopus Genus: The Filter Fly
    • Telmatoscopus, commonly known as “filter flies,” boasts a distinctive humpbacked appearance.
    • With a more robust body and distinct wing shape, these flies often inhabit sewage and drainage systems.
  5. Chironomidae Family: The Non-Drain Fly Culprits
    • Sometimes, midges from the Chironomidae family are mistaken for drain flies due to their similar size and appearance.
    • Unlike drain flies, midges do not breed in drains but may gather in large swarms near bodies of water.

Understanding The Drain Fly Life Cycle & Habits

  • Life Cycle: Drain flies undergo a four-stage life cycle, progressing from egg to larva, pupa, and finally, the adult fly.
    • Adult females lay 30–100 eggs in sludge around sewage and drainage areas. Eggs hatch in 32–48 hours, the larval stage lasts 8–24 days, and the pupal stage lasts 20–40 hours. Adults live for about two weeks.
  • Habitats: While drains are a favored breeding ground, drain flies can also inhabit organic-rich environments like decaying vegetation, compost, or sewage systems.
  1. The Four Stages of Life: Egg, Larva, Pupa, Adult
    • Drain flies undergo a four-stage life cycle, starting with eggs laid in moist organic matter.  The eggs hatch within 32 to 48 hours of being laid.
    • After hatching, drain fly larvae thrive in the moist environments found in drains, sewage systems, and decaying organic material.
    • Larvae eventually pupate, forming protective cases around themselves.
    • Within 8 to 24 days of hatching, the adult drain fly emerges from the pupa, ready to restart the life cycle.
  2. Habitats of Drain Flies: More Than Just Drains
    • While drains are a preferred breeding ground, drain flies can inhabit various environments rich in organic matter.
    • Common habitats include clogged drains, sewage systems, decaying vegetation, compost, and even moist soil.
    • The moist conditions provide an ideal environment for drain fly larvae to thrive.
  3. Why Drains?
    • Drains offer the perfect combination of moisture and organic material for drain fly larvae to feed and develop.
    • Hair, soap scum, and other debris create a nutrient-rich environment, supporting the growth of larvae.
  4. Reproductive Capacity: The Two-Day Cycle
    • Drain flies are known for their rapid reproductive cycle, with adults capable of laying between 30 and 100 eggs within a short period.
    • The entire life cycle, from egg to adult, can occur in as little as two weeks.
    • This quick turnaround contributes to the persistence of drain fly infestations.
  5. Feeding Habits of Drain Fly Larvae
    • Drain fly larvae primarily feed on bacteria and organic matter found in drains.
    • The presence of detritus, decaying material, and microbial growth in drain pipes creates an ideal food source for larvae.
  6. Nocturnal Activity: Flying Under the Radar
    • Adult drain flies are mostly nocturnal, preferring to emerge during the evening hours.
    • Their nocturnal habits make it challenging for homeowners to detect and address the infestation during the day.
  7. Longevity of Adult Drain Flies
    • Adult drain flies have a relatively short lifespan, typically lasting for one to two weeks.
    • During this time, they focus on reproducing and laying eggs in suitable environments.

What is The Difference Between Drain Flies and Fruit Flies?

Drain flies and fruit flies are two distinct species of flies with different habits, appearances, and habitats. Here are the key differences between drain flies and fruit flies:

  1. Appearance:
    • Drain Flies: Also known as moth flies or filter flies, drain flies are small, measuring about 1.5 to 5 millimeters in length. They have a fuzzy or moth-like appearance and distinctive veined wings. Drain flies are typically dark in color, ranging from brown to black.
    • Fruit Flies: Fruit flies are slightly smaller, measuring about 3 to 4 millimeters. They have a more slender body and often feature red eyes. Fruit flies are tan to light brown, and their wings may have distinctive dark markings.
  2. Habitat:
    • Drain Flies: As the name suggests, drain flies are commonly found in drains, sewage systems, and other moist areas. They breed in the organic material that accumulates in drains, such as decaying matter, sludge, and scum.
    • Fruit Flies: Fruit flies are attracted to ripening or fermenting fruits and vegetables. They lay their eggs on the surface of overripe or rotting produce, and the larvae feed on the sugars present in the fermenting material.
  3. Life Cycle:
    • Drain Flies: Drain flies undergo a four-stage life cycle, including egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The entire life cycle can be completed in as little as two weeks, contributing to their rapid reproduction.
    • Fruit Flies: Fruit flies also have a four-stage life cycle, progressing from egg to larva, pupa, and adult. Their life cycle is relatively short, typically completed in about a week.
  4. Behavior:
    • Drain Flies: Drain flies are often more active at night, and short, erratic movements characterize their flight. Adults may be found near breeding sites, and they are generally weak fliers.
    • Fruit Flies: Fruit flies are active during the day, particularly around areas with decaying fruits and vegetables. They are agile fliers and are commonly seen hovering around fruit bowls or kitchen compost bins.
  5. Breeding Sites:
    • Drain Flies: Breeding sites for drain flies include clogged drains, sewage systems, and any location with stagnant water and organic matter.
    • Fruit Flies: Fruit flies breed on the surface of overripe fruits and vegetables, as well as in fermenting liquids. They are also attracted to damp and decaying organic matter.

Understanding these differences can help identify the type of fly infestation and implement targeted control measures. Proper sanitation, eliminating breeding sites, and using appropriate traps or insecticides are key strategies for managing both drain flies and fruit flies.

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.