We hate to be the ones to tell you this, but the kitchen is a prime location for flies. "Flies are attracted to rotting fruit and vegetables, rotting meat, and any other material they can find around your kitchen sink or trash can," says Chelle Hartzer, an entomologist for Orkin. While most houseflies don't bite, they can carry bacteria like E. coli and salmonella from one spot to another, contaminating healthy foods and potentially making you sick. Plus, they're super annoying!
Here's what you can do to keep them from buzzing around your kitchen.
1. Clean, clean, clean!
Sanitation is the number-one way to reduce any kind of insect in the kitchen — especially flies. Because they like many different kinds of foods, any kind of crumb or spill is fair game to them. Be sure to wipe down your countertops after meal prep and any other time they're soiled.
2. Take out the trash!
Beyond crumbs and spills, your garbage can is a great location for flies to multiply. Empty it. Frequently. Before it smells bad. You'll attract fewer flies and remove an area where they might have laid eggs. This is especially important before you head out on vacation! "The biggest horror stories I've heard are when people forget to take out the trash and come back to an infestation after a week," says Dave Lofquist, an Associated Certified Entomologist and Technical Training Manager at Arrow Exterminators.
3. Keep them out.
Flies obviously have to get into your house somehow to begin with. Be sure you have screens on your windows and keep outside doors closed as much as possible to prevent flies from getting in.
4. Get the air moving.
If there's an obvious point of entry — like a window screen that doesn't fit well — try using a fan. "I have kids who come in and out all the time in the summer, so I put a big box fan by the door to the garage to keep the flies out," says Mike Malone, a Senior Vice President at Arrow Exterminators. In the kitchen, a fan placed near the window can deter them. Why? Turns out flies can't, well, fly super well in the wind. Silly flies. Hint: This will also work around your outdoor dining table.
5. Know when to call a pro.
Flies can be a symptom of a bigger problem. If you have them frequently or they seem to be multiplying, call a pest control professional. They can help you identify an unknown food source (like a dead animal in the wall — it's not uncommon!) or a point of entry you may have overlooked. You can find certified professionals in your area on pestworld.org.