School IPM Best Practices

House Fly, Musca domestica

House flies, life cycle

Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org.

IPM Steps to Reduce House Flies

1. Sample for Pest

Confirm the presence of house flies.

Where to find it while inspecting:

2. Proper ID

Before you act, determine your pest is a fly and for best results, which species of fly.

Size and Particulars: 1/8"–1/4" (4–7.5 mm) adults. Dull gray fly with two black stripes on thorax.

3. Learn the Pest Biology

Knowing the life cycle helps you fight fly infestations.

Life Cycle: Adult females lay tiny white eggs in clusters of 20–50 on damp material. They hatch in 8–20 hours and the legless, eyeless larvae (maggots) molt three times (three instars) to maturity in 3–7 depending on temperature. Mature maggots seek a cool, dry place to pupate for 3 days to 4 weeks. Leaving the pupal case, an adult fly is ready for activity about 15 hours later. Adults live 15–25 days.

Preferred Food Sources: House flies are general feeders but due to their sponging mouthparts, they must take in nourishment as liquid. They may regurgitate food to liquefy it.

Preferred Habitat: House flies are active within a mile of their birth site and find food sources via the wind and food odors. Once they find a food source, they stay near, resting between meals.

4. Determine Threshold

Flies are annoying, but what is your threshold for infestation? When should you act?

Threshold: Due to the fact house flies can carry up to 100 diseases on their bodies and by their feeding habits, they are not just a nuisance. Generally they are not a large scale problem unless they’ve had complete access to food sources without any control over a period of weeks.

5. Choose Tactics

IPM for indoor pests is always a combination of exclusion and sanitation: Try to keep them out. Don’t provide water, food and shelter if they enter your building.

Best Management Practices: Exclusion and sanitation. Keeping doors and windows shut, and holes in screens repaired limits their access into building. Blocking them from garbage and reducing moist areas where females look to lay eggs is helpful. Keep garbage emptied daily and place outdoor receptacles as far from buildings as possible.

Treatment Methods: Reducing harborage for egg-laying is important as is excluding adults. The best treatment for house flies is a fly-swatter. Spraying is rarely needed in a school environment unless there is an intense infestation in an ignored area. Fly paper works in areas that can’t be shut off but must be kept out of reach. Pesticide use includes baits or direct application to infested areas such as dumpsters.

6. Evaluate

Was the tactic successful? Record the date pests were first noted, and the tactic you used, and its success. Use one of our RECORD KEEPING tools.

For More Information:

Penn State: IPM Controls Near Your Home


When a pesticide application is necessary, all necessary and required precautions are taken to minimize risk to people and the environment and to minimize risk of pesticide resistance or pest resurgence. Pesticide use in your school may be prohibited or regulated by local policies or state and federal regulations. Risk reduction methods can include, but are not limited to, spot-treatment, the use of gel or paste bait formulations placed in inaccessible locations, injection into a crack or crevice, and other methods that reduce potential exposure.