Seeing black flying bugs around your house is not something anyone looks forward to. Especially when you don’t know what they are. Well, if they’re flying around overripe bananas on your table, they’re probably fruit flies. But if they’re not, what can they be?
The most common black flying bugs inside our homes are fungus gnats, houseflies, phorid flies, drain flies and no-see-ums.
So, which of those are infecting your house? Let’s find out. In this article, we’ll cover how each of these insects looks like, and what you can do about them.
If black bugs in your house are flying around your windows and potted plants, then you’re probably dealing with fungus gnats. These tiny flies are attracted to the soil moisture, and they happily make your plant’s pot their new home.
How They Look Like
Typically, fungus gnats are 1/16 to ⅛ of an inch long. They’re almost the same size as fruit flies, so telling one from another is not easy. The main difference between these two flying bugs is that fungus gnats have a slightly slimmer body, with longer legs and antennae than their fruit cousins.
Fungus gnats have long, vein-patterned wings, yet, they’re not very good fliers. You’re more likely to see them walking around the soil, with only shorts bursts of erratic flights every now and then.
These bugs lay eggs inside the potting soil. They’re oval and semi-transparent, so seeing them is practically an impossible task. After anywhere from 4 to 6 days, they hatch into white and legless larvae with a black head. They primarily feast on fungi and other decomposing organic matter in the soil. But, if their population gets out of hand, larvae will start feeding on the roots too, causing your precious plant to die.
Dealing With Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats live for a month, but they reproduce fast. Each female is capable of laying up to 300 eggs, so it’s clear these bugs won’t simply die out.
Dealing with adult fungus gnats is rather easy. Sticky card traps and cider-vinegar baits will surely lead these annoying pests to their demise. But, larvae inside the soil are much harder to get rid of.
Surely, you want to preserve your precious plant if possible. To do that, increase your watering intervals. Let the soil dry to a depth of at least 1 to 2 inches before you water again. Larvae thrive in damp soils, so you should make your pots an inhospitable environment for these nuisances.
Another thing you could use, not only to kill fungus gnats but to keep them from coming back, is neem oil. It doesn’t kill them on contact, but you can expect the pests to disappear within days.
Houseflies are one of those insects you can find all around the globe. They even live in the Arctic! These annoying insects have been around for quite some time now. In fact, they’re believed to have evolved at the beginning of the Cenozoic Era, which started 65 million years ago.
Houseflies are usually ⅙ to ¼ inch long. They’re gray in color, with four black stripes on their thorax. If you look closely, you’ll notice they’re a bit fuzzy. They use those hairs on their back to taste and smell.
It might not appear that way, but houseflies have very complex compound eyes, that give them a wide vision. That’s why it’s practically impossible to catch it by surprise. Your waving around with newspaper appears like a slow-motion action to them.
Houseflies have a life expectancy between 15 and 30 days, depending on the temperature and living conditions. They have no time to waste, and they usually lay eggs after only a few days after their own hatching. Houseflies go an extra mile, laying up to 600 eggs at once. After a day, at most, cream-colored larvae will come to life.
These insects make a buzzing noise when flying. They’re quite annoying, but what’s worse, they can also be harmful to our health. Here’s how:
The way houseflies consume food is somewhat similar to how humans do it. It uses saliva and digestive juices to break down food particles. But while this process happens inside our mouth and stomach, houseflies do it outside of their bodies.
In other words, these insects spit on their food, letting the juices do all the job. Then, they simply ingest it. This process is as unsanitary as it sounds. So, if a housefly lands on your sandwich, it’s very likely it will spread whatever germs it previously ate. Health issues caused by houseflies can be rather serious, from food poisoning to tuberculosis and anthrax.
Getting Rid Of Houseflies
Houseflies are usually active during warmer months, while they hibernate during the winter. This means they slow down their metabolism, waiting for days to become hotter. Still, that doesn’t mean they don’t reproduce, so waiting for winter won’t solve your housefly infestation.
The first step is, obviously, getting rid of the potential food. By that, we don’t just keep human food covered and stored properly. Houseflies love to munch on things we find gross, from ripening fruit to drain gunk and what not. So, start by taking out and disinfecting your trash can, deep clean your drains and stop leaving pet food out for a long time.
Then, place some fly traps around the house. You can find all kinds of those on the market, from sticky to electric ones. However, if these don’t solve the issue, you’ll have to call a professional exterminator.
Otherwise known as humpback flies, these insects look a lot like fruit flies, but they’re not related in any way. There are over 4,000 species of these flies, and they can be found all around the world. As to places they like to make their home, decaying organic matter is their primary choice. Therefore, they’ll likely be found inside your sewers.
Phorid flies are typically around ⅛ inches long. Depending on the species, their colors range from black to yellowish-brown. Their thorax is arched, which makes them look like a Hunchback from Notre Dame.
Since their appearance is rather similar to fruit flies, your identification shouldn’t be based solely on their looks. The best way to tell them apart is to watch their behavior. Phorid flies fly erratically, in a zig-zag pattern, unlike fruit flies which fly in a straight line. Plus, they’re more likely to run away across the surface than to fly.
Even though they’re more active during warmer months, phorid flies can be found around a house even during winter. Their lifespan is 1 to 2 months, depending on the temperature. The time it takes them to reach adulthood can be anywhere from 14 to 37 days. Yet, during their short final stage, they can lay up to 750 eggs.
Since they’re attracted to decaying matter, their eggs can be found in different places, such as sewage, rotting plants, drain film buildups and carcasses. But that’s not all. Some species lay eggs inside the thorax of fire ants! Once larvae come to life, they eat the ant’s brain, basically turning it into a zombie that wanders around aimlessly.
Considering phorid flies enjoy gross, rotting things, it’s no surprise they pose certain health risks to us. They can spread pathogens that cause all kinds of diseases, ranging from conjunctivitis to cholera and hepatitis A.
Dealing With Phorid Fly Infestations
The first thing you should do at the sight of phorid flies is to check for decaying matter inside your home. Taking out the trash is easy, but you can expect to struggle with other areas where a buildup of organic material is common, like drains and sewers.
Adult phorid flies can be eliminated with bug zappers and sticky traps. Since they can usually be found in areas away from the source of the infestation, make sure to place these all around your house. Another way to get rid of them is pyrethrin spray. But, keep in mind this is an on-contact eliminator, so it won’t do much when it comes to repelling them. To keep them away, you can use eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender or lemongrass essential oils.
However, if it turns out that their breeding location is inside your broken pipes and drains, there’s a good possibility you’ll have to remove the flood and repair your pipes.
There is another type of black bug that is commonly found inside the drains. Drain flies are attracted by stagnant water, so sinks, drains and sewers are all common places where you can find them.
Identification Drain Flies
Drain flies are usually ⅛ inch long, with their colors ranging from pale gray to black. They’re rather distinguishable from other bugs we covered in this article by their fuzzy bodies and moth-like wings. But, unlike moths, these insects are not great at flying. You’re more likely to see them hop from one area to another, rather than buzzing around your head as house flies do.
Drain flies live a short life. Their lifespan ranges from 8 to 24 days, but they reproduce rather fast. A female can lay up to 300 eggs in only two days, so an infestation spreads like wildfire.
Just like phorid flies, drain flies enjoy munching on a slimy film inside your drains. It’s where they’ll hang out, mate and lay their eggs. Finding out if you’re dealing with drain fly infestation is easy, with a duct tape test.
What you need to do is place a piece of duct tape on top of your drain. Leave it overnight. These insects are nocturnal, and when the night comes, they’ll leave the drains. Well, they’ll try to, but your duct tape will cause them to get stuck on their way out.
Getting Rid Of Drain Flies
Getting rid of drain flies means getting rid of their breeding spot. In other words, you need to clean your drains. Depending on the degree of the infestation, you might able to do that with a few things you have laying under your sink, such as vinegar and baking soda. If that doesn’t work out, chemical drain cleaners will do the job. Enzyme cleaners will break down the gooey film inside your drains, getting rid of both their breeding station and eggs.
Everyone knows what termites are. Yet, it’s not a well-known fact that they can fly. Well, reproductive males and females do. Every now and then, they leave their colonies to mate and start a new life in another place. Once they do, they shed their wings.
How Flying Termites Look Like
Swarming termites are from ¼ to ⅜ inch long, depending on the species, with wings extending past their bodies. These insects usually come out during spring or summer, but if the weather allows it, they might be seen in November.
Seeing them flying in or around your home indicates they’re nesting somewhere close, so you should react. As you probably know, they feast on wood, so you can expect to find them basically anywhere.
With termites, reacting fast is important. These insects can cause billions of dollars worth of damage. And what’s worst, there’s not much you can do yourself. Well, except calling exterminators as soon as you notice them. However, it’s a relief to know that, when caught on time, they’re successfully eliminated from the home.
Black flying bugs around your home can be a lot of things. Some are mostly just annoying, like fungus gnats, while others can cause extreme damage, like termites. Knowing to identify them is crucial for successfully dealing with an infestation.
For more about bugs you can encounter in your home, check out the links below:
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