How to Get Rid of Drain Flies

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If you’ve noticed small flying insects that tend stick solely to your bathrooms and kitchen, then you’ve got a drain fly problem. Unlike other uninvited winged houseguests, drain flies are pretty particular about where they want to be: near water. Stagnant water specifically.  

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that these little guys have set up home in one of your drains. But don’t worry – we have plenty of useful tips for getting rid of drain flies and preventing them from coming back again! Drain flies are generally more of an annoyance than a threat to your health. 

Still, it’s understandable if you don’t to take on these pests as new roommates. To help with this problem, here is everything you need to know about drain flies and how to send these tiny freeloaders packing. 

What Are Drain Flies?

Drain flies are tiny winged insects that hover around your bathroom or kitchen sink. 

Though they live incredibly short lives of only 8 to 24 days, they make the most of every single one of them, laying hundreds of eggs that hatch in a short 48 hours. They spend a good 18 days lounging as larvae and feeding before turning into pupae. Five days after that they’re fully grown and ready to start a family of their own.  

Drain flies will lay their eggs in your bathroom or kitchen drains. The eggs are sticky and begin to grow inside the drain, creating a plug that prevents water from flowing through. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on whatever has accumulated in the drain – most often hair. When the larvae are fully grown, they crawl out of the drain and pupate nearby. After a few days, they emerge as adults and the cycle begins again.

Is it a Drain Fly?

Still not sure if it’s drain flies you’re dealing with? Take a closer look. 

They’re about the size of fruit flies and gnats and look like tiny moths and are attracted to the moist, dark environments found in sinks, bathtubs, and drains. 

Drain flies are about 1/4 inch long and oval-shaped. They have black bodies with red eyes and black wing tips. Their legs are also black. They gather around standing water, especially in drains. 

What Do Drain Flies Eat?

Drain flies enjoy chowing down on organic material. The kind often found in kitchen sinks where food debris can collect.

Between their love of rooting food and moisture, sinks are prime real estate for these tiny intruders who will quickly move in and start reproducing.  

They lay their eggs in the rotting food and stagnant water, which means that you will have a new infestation every time you put your food scraps in the sink. Drain flies are also attracted to the smell of dirty sponges and dishcloths. They lay eggs in these items and spend their larval stage in there.

Where Do Drain Flies Come From?

Wondering how they got in your home to begin with? All it took was an open window or door for that first one to get in. Attracted to stagnant water they seek out the drains in your home. If they found them to be to their liking, they moved right on in and never looked back. 

It’s important to note that drain flies are attracted to any standing water. If they find your plumbing suitable, then it could indicate a bigger problem than their presence. If the pipes in your house are clogged or the drainage is poor, water will back up and create puddles. 

Drain flies can also be attracted to food scraps that are being put down the garbage disposal. Make sure to clean out your garbage disposal regularly and put nothing but water down it.

What Makes Your Drain Attractive to Drain Flies?

Any clog or buildup is attractive to drain flies. Some of the common things found in drains they particularly enjoy are: 

Hair:

Hair can clog your drains and cause bacterial buildup, which attracts drain flies find quite appealing. 

Soap Scum:

Soap scum is a combination of organic matter, bacteria, and soap. This makes a great environment for the larvae of drain flies to feed and grow in. 

Excess Food:

Food scraps can get caught in your drains, causing a clog and an attractive environment for drain flies.

Are Drain Flies Harmful?

Drain flies are not harmful to people or pets. However, they can be a sign that your house has a problem, such as poor drainage or clogged pipes. 

Drain flies can also serve as an indicator of fruit spoilage. If you notice drain flies around your kitchen, it's likely that your fruit or vegetables are moldy or rotting.

Do Drain Flies Bite?

As far as we know, drain flies don't bite humans. They're not harmful insects; they just like to make a home in your drains.

 However, drain flies do sometimes use their proboscis (the extended tube-like organ found in the heads of flies and mosquitoes) to pierce fruit to suck the juices out. This is a way to get food when the fruit is beginning to spoil.

Signs of a Drain Fly Infestation

The presence of drain flies isn’t just an annoyance – it’s a sign that your drains are seriously clogged and in need of attention. Some signs of a drain fly infestation include: 

Gurgling Sounds: 

The sound of gurgling water that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere can be a sign of a clog. The larvae of drain flies feed on the organic matter that clogs drains, so they often create this gurgling sound as they feed. 

Bad Odors: 

Drains are usually equipped with a trap that catches any hair and other debris that enters the drain. If your trap isn’t working, the organic matter will slowly build up in your pipes – causing a foul odor. The larvae of drain flies feed on this organic matter, and will only make the smell worse.

How to Get Rid of Drain Flies

Now that you know what you’re up against, it’s time to get to work evicting them from your home. 

First thing’s first, you’ll need to address the underlying cause of the drain flies. Once you’ve identified the root cause, you can take the proper steps to effectively get rid of them. Start by:  

Checking your Drains:

Check the drains for clogs, hair, and other debris. You can usually remove what you find with a plunger or with a plumbing snake. 

Clean Your Drains: 

Make sure to clean your drains regularly to prevent buildup, odors, and attractants for drain flies. You can use a chemical drain cleaner, or an enzyme cleaner that breaks down organic matter. 

Fix Your Plumbing:

If your drains are clogged and there is no buildup, you may have a plumbing issue. Fixing plumbing issues before they become serious is much easier than trying to get rid of drain flies in a serious clog.

Natural Remedies

Vinegar is a popular home remedy for getting rid of drain flies. Just pour white vinegar down your drain and let it sit there for a few hours. The vinegar will kill the drain flies as well as the bacteria that makes your drain smell. It’s a win-win!

Diatomaceous earth is a natural way to eliminate drain flies. It's made from crushed fossils and is often used to kill pests. Diatomaceous earth is completely safe for humans but will kill any insects that come into contact with it. Pour a bit into your drain and let it sit overnight to kill drain flies.

Eliminate the Eggs and Larvae

If you’ve already been dealing with a drain fly infestation, then you’re likely to have an abundance of larvae growing in your drains. If you want to get rid of the larvae, you’ll need to first get rid of the eggs. Kill the Eggs - If you can get rid of the eggs, the larvae won’t be able to grow and cause a serious clog in your pipes. You have a few options for killing the drain fly eggs: Chemical Sprays - You can spray a chemical spray down the drain to kill the eggs – such as Dr. Drain Fly (Amazon link). Boiling Water - You can kill the eggs with boiling water. Pour a pot of boiling water down each drain to kill the eggs, larvae, and bacteria. Hot vinegar - Hot vinegar is a great way to kill the eggs and the larvae in your drains. Simply pour a cup of vinegar down each drain and let sit for about half an hour.

Eliminate the Adult Drain Fly

Once you’ve cleared out your drains, and removed the eggs and larvae that were in there, you’ll need to take care of the adult drain flies that are currently buzzing around your house. 

You have a few options for killing the adult drain flies: 

Chemical Sprays: 

You can use a chemical spray to kill the adult drain flies. These can be effective, but you’ll need to read the manufacturer’s instructions for proper and safe usage. Especially if share the home with children or pets. 

Sticky Traps: 

You can place a sticky trap under each of your sinks to catch the adult drain flies. It’s not the fastest method, but it’s a safe one.

Hot Water:

Fast, easy, and completely natural, hot water is a great way to get rid of drain flies. Pour a pot of boiling water down each drain to kill the adult drain flies and the bacteria in the drains.

Call a Professional

If you’ve tried everything and the drain flies keep coming back, you may want to call a professional. Professional drain cleaners offer a variety of services, including drain cleaning and repair, trap cleaning, and even rodent removal. A professional will be able to quickly identify the cause of your drain fly problem and solve it.

Ways to Fend Off Drain Flies

Just because the last drain fly is gone, doesn’t mean it’s really over. 

From here on out it’s all about prevention and making sure they don’t come back. Fortunately, this is the easy part.

Clean Your Drains Regularly: You probably already know that cleaning your drains regularly will prevent buildup, odors, and attractants for drain flies. 

You can use a chemical drain cleaner, or an enzyme cleaner that breaks down organic matter. Make sure you add this to your weekly chore list.

Install a Drain Trap:

A properly-functioning drain trap will keep hair and other debris from entering your pipes – preventing a clog that would attract drain flies. 

Watch out for standing water: 

Check laundry areas, houseplants, and any place moisture is present and can accumulate. Puddles of stagnant water are like poolside vacation retreats for drain flies, so make sure you never have these appealing areas in you home for them. 

Looking for a Pest Control Professional in Your Area? 

If you live in the Houston or Austin areas, and need a some help with drain flies, Natram Green Pest Control is here to help. 

Pest problems in or around the home are stressful. The process of getting rid of them shouldn’t have to be. 

At Natran, we take a green approach to pest control so you don’t have to worry about the health and safety of the ones you love. We use only minimum and reduced risk products to ensure the lowest impact possible on people, pets, and the planet.

Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help with drain flies and any other pest related problems you may have! 

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