Get Rid of These 11 Things That Attract Flies – ASAP

There is nothing you are going through that cannot be made worse by the presence of flies. From common annoyances like house flies to the biting, blood-sucking horse fly to the congregating clouds of clusterflies: they’re all nasty, all aggravating, and can make your life and the lives of your animals hell.

fruit flies

And getting rid of flies can be tough. So much of the time, prevention is a much better way to go, and the way to prevent them is to stop them from being attracted in the first place. Flies home in on all kinds of things for various reasons, some you might not even know about.

To help you keep your property fly-free, I’m bringing you a list of 11 common fly attractants that you need to get rid of ASAP.

a pile of horse manure
A fairly well decomposed pile of horse manure

Manure/Pet Droppings

We’ve all heard the expression before, right? Like a fly on, well, you know the rest.

Turns out that ditty isn’t just a ditty; many kinds of flies absolutely love the filth of livestock manure and pet droppings. Some species lay their eggs directly into manure, but others are attracted to the scent because they know warm-blooded animals are nearby – the kind they need to feed on.

And it really is that simple. If you stay on top of picking up after your pets or cleaning up after your herds and flocks, it will go a long way towards keeping flies at bay.

If you can’t properly dispose of manure and droppings at the instant, putting them in appropriate containers or relocating them far away from your animals can help give flies the slip.

cutting pig carcass in half
a pig carcass


Another old trope, but a true one: all kinds of flies are invariably found buzzing in dense clouds around and walking on various carcasses. From larger animals like dogs, horses, and cows to smaller ones like rodents, dogs, and cats.

Flies will also happily land on the bodies of human beings, but I’m assuming you don’t have any of those lying around. Right..?

Flies are drawn to carcasses for the same reason that some are drawn to feces: it’s an ideal place for them to lay eggs because it provides their young, maggots, with a large supply of food and also protection from the elements.

If you know of any dead critters around your property, even if they’re far enough away where you can’t smell them, get rid of them so it doesn’t become a homing beacon for flies.

Rodent Infestations

This is a terrible one-two punch of pestilence that can bring anyone to their knees: if you haven’t learned by now, flies are attracted to nasty smells. That’s just the way they are wired.

Rodent infestations invariably leave behind a sharp, nasty reek that is the equivalent of a neon sign to any flies in the area. This is a combination of rodent body odor, urine, and droppings, but also the remnants of food that they raid and poach from your pantry and elsewhere.

Flies are more than happy to swoop in and eat the remnants of rodent carcasses, rat poop, and leftover bits of food or breached food containers. This will invariably result in the local fly population skyrocketing, particularly if you don’t know where the rodents are congregating.

I would hope you are taking positive action to get rid of rodents as soon as they’re detected, but if you have a persistent colony somewhere on your property that you’ve been putting off dealing with, it’s time to get rid of them because they are directly contributing to an increase in flies.

apricot covered in brown rot
apricot covered in brown rot

Old Fruit

Everybody has been through this before, even if you keep your house scrupulously clean. Old fruit that has started to go a little off or ferment attracts flies like nothing else, but specifically, it attracts fruit flies, so named because they are the first to show up and often in tremendous numbers.

They don’t eat just fermented fruit, but it’s easier for them to detect from far off, and that’s why you always find them near that bowl of bad grapes or those apples that are starting to shrivel.

But when fruit flies show up, they’ll do a lot more harm until you get rid of them because they are some of the most damaging agricultural pests in the world.

They eat fruits and vegetables and can transmit diseases just like larger and seemingly more troublesome flies. Eat your fruit, store it safely, or trash it in a sealed container before it goes bad to help keep them away.


Meat, even fresh meat, is aromatic enough to attract flies. You think it’s a coincidence that there’s always a couple of flies in the kitchen when you have a window open while you are cooking? Or the fact that flies won’t leave you alone when you’re tending to the backyard grill?

They know what it is and are coming to get some for themselves. Meat is attractive to many different kinds of flies, particularly house flies, but also phorid flies, blowflies, and more.

Obviously, you shouldn’t leave meat exposed for longer than you have to, and never, ever leave it lying around.


Sweet things just attract flies. House flies and fruit flies particularly, but many others are drawn to them also because they associate them with food directly or indirectly because the presence of sweets means that the presence of other kinds of food for different species.

Cookies, cakes, candy, desserts, syrup, soda – that’s one of the worst – nectar and more: all will attract flies from far and wide.

Depending on what you were doing, you might not be able to mitigate this. For instance, leaving out a hummingbird feeder will also be rolling out the red carpet for flies.

As always, if you can eliminate the source of the attractant you should, and if you can’t, you should work even harder to get rid of those things that you can to reduce the appeal of your property and surroundings to these flying scumbags.

trash can enclosure
A wooden trash can enclosure. Notice there’s no building or annex in sight. It’s actually fairly close to the trees.


You’ll never go by a trash can or dumpster that doesn’t have flies buzzing around it. It’s full of all kinds of malodorous stuff like rotting food that makes it irresistible to all kinds of flies, house flies, fruit flies, and drain flies particularly.

Your trash can should always be tightly closed, trash inside it bagged, and waste receptacles, large and small, routinely cleaned and disinfected to keep that nasty smell down. Doing so will work wonders to reduce fly populations…

Dirty Drains

This is a sneaky one that even I didn’t know about for a long time! Did you know that dirty drains, those in your kitchen and elsewhere in your home, attract flies? It’s true!

What’s worse, different drains will attract different fly species for different reasons. Your flies that love crap and rot will be attracted to your garbage disposal and kitchen sink because of the grease, bits of rotting food, and other biomatter that will invariably accumulate there.

Drain flies are those tiny ones you have likely mistaken for little moths fluttering around in your bathroom and near your sink; they are drawn to dank moisture itself.

You know what to do: keep them clean, disinfected, and dry, at least as dry as you can, and the flies will leave them and you alone.

Pekin ducks in pond on the homestead
Pekin ducks in a small pond on the homestead

Standing Water

Stagnant water is commonly thought of as an attractant and breeding ground for mosquitoes, and that’s because it is! But mosquitoes are a type of fly so if you have any kind of standing water whatsoever around, you’re opening yourself up to a major swarm during warm seasons.

Old tires, bird baths, clogged gutters, pools, fountains, all that stuff you probably know about already. Dump it out and dry it out. But also be wary of any low spots on your property, like on a driveway or sidewalk, that can collect water. They can serve just as well.

If you have any standing water on your property that you cannot drain or pour out, you can treat it with anti-mosquito and anti-fly tablets or liquid that will kill larvae and hopefully repel adults.

Muddy, Mucky Areas

Similar to standing water, muddy, mucky areas will also draw in certain types of flies either for the moisture they contains or as a potential breeding ground. This is especially likely if you have pigs or other animals that turn up the ground and contaminate it with their droppings.

Naturally, these nasty places are breeding grounds for all kinds of dangerous bacteria, and the flies that come by to do their business will spread that business elsewhere, like your home, food, and animals.

There’s a reason that historically places like swamps and bogs have been identified with pestilence – it’s because they are!

Even a low spot on your driveway that always turns into a churned muddy marsh after rain can be a major hangout for flies. Dry it up or fill it up with gravel to eliminate the mud, and you’ll eliminate the flies.

Other Flies!

Where there’s one, there will always be more! Flies attract other flies, either visually, through sound, or by releasing a sweet, rot-like scent themselves that will draw in others of their own kind.

So they multiply in a prosaic sense by drawing in more flies and also in the literal sense by reproducing in areas that they frequent.

This is why a fly problem turns exponential in a very short order, and why you need to eliminate even a small number of flies with prejudice, and then get rid of the things that attract them. Let them hang around and more will show up!

getting rid of fruit flies

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