From the Files of this is Terrifying: Dear PoP – Cluster Fly Invasion

Photo by flickr user xeroxdocuprint

“Dear PoP,

My house was invaded by flies yesterday! I promptly cleaned my kitchen (it was pretty messy) and started swatting. I eventually gave up, there were like a hundred. Later that night my friend and I turned off all the house lights except in the sun room. The flies congregated there and we blasted them with raid (I am embarrassed to admit that was actually pretty fun, and yes I know not to breath it in). After marveling at our manliness and surveying the countless contorted bodies of our enemies strewn about the floor, we high-fived and finished off a twelve pack on my front porch. But when I went to vacuum up the carcasses this morning there were a hundred more.

Long story short I looked it up and they are called cluster flies. They look exactly like house flies but are slightly bigger and much more lethargic. They emerge from the ground in the early fall and try to hibernate in your house (according to the internet). Cluster flies are not really disease carriers and don’t lay eggs in your house. They just like to be in your house.

Are these things common to DC? If so does anyone know how to get rid of them? My searching says that prevention is the best method; don’t let them into your house. But I kinda missed that boat…”

Yikes! Anyone else deal with this menace before?

24 Comment

  • Call Terminix. They can get rid of anything. I have them come out to my house several times a year just as a preventative measure.

  • They may also relate to e.g. a dead rat somewhere in the structure..

    Anyway, I built one of these and it works GREAT! Best bate? Half eaten boiled corn. Really. Flies go nuts with it.

  • The quick effective solution I’ve used was lots of the cheap fly paper tacked up everywhere. Its gross, but it doesn’t have harmful chemicals in your house.

  • I’ve had that problem before, although not to the extent that there’s been upwards of a hundred flies. I was told that the big flies are carrion flies which means that there’s something dead in the house. Although I couldn’t smell anything that signalled a dead rat, mouse or whatever.

  • I had them in my bathroom. I was so embarrassed because they just multiplied by like the hundreds in there and a few would ease out into the rest of the house. I’m glad to know they arent disease carriers. I ended up taking my vacuum cleaner and vacuuming them alive with the hose. Then I put up sticky strips (i tried to make my own fly trap with a jar and honey but didnt really kill any this way) After that i turn on a floor fan because I read on the internet that flies don;t like airy areas. They were gone with in a few days..

  • I live on the 2nd floor of an apartment building and had this happen to me a couple of years ago. It was like the flies were crawling in through every crack and crevice by our windows. I must have swatted for days. Thank goodness I had my trusty chancleta fly swatter ( They finally stopped coming in. It’s horrible just to remember it. Shivver…

  • We used to have these flies every summer in our basement apartment. They would congregate by the outside drains and find ways to get inside every time the door opened.

    Our eradication strategy included treating around the drain area (bad, I know) and hanging fly strips on any surface we could. Then we came home to find our 17 pound cat had managed to get himself tangled in one. After the wonderfully fun process of cutting the fly strip out of a grumpy cat’s long fur we decided to stick with fly swatters and treating the outer drains.

    Thankfully, this year has been fly free!

  • Oh lord, this happened to me a couple months ago. Like the posters above, I was horrified, thinking my house wasn’t clean or there was some dead rat hiding under a cabinet. There were just SO MANY — I swatted all night, my cat killed a bunch, and it went on for about 3 days until they just kinda disappeared. Well, now I guess I know what that was all about!

  • This happened to us last year. About this time. It was terrible, but we used a combo of fly tack paper and swatting and in a few days they were gone. I had thought it had to do w/ some home renovations we were doing and the possibility of excavating an animal carcass or two in the process. Maybe it was this cluster fly thing instead. No flies this year yet, but keeping fingers crossed.

  • best way to get rid of them is with a vacuum with a hose. They are slow and pretty easy to suck up.

  • I didn’t know this was Amityville! maybe an exorcism is in order?

  • Every year we get these bad boys twice. Once in the summer, once in the winter. Like everyone said, they’re slow moving and easy to take out. I really have nothing to add to the conversation except the following:

    I never ever saw the northern lights…
    (anybody? Farmhouse?)

    • that phish song is the only other time i’ve ever heard “cluster flies…”

      And they actually played Farmhouse at their show last night!


      • I was about to post welcome this is a farm house, we have cluster flies alas, this time of year it’s bad.

        well done.

  • I had the same thing happen to me a few years ago. Called the landlord and they sent an exterminator and that was the end of the flies.

  • Yep. Happened to me last year. Walked into my house after being away for a few days and thought I entered a Hitchcock movie. I had never seen anything like this before. Used a shop vac to suck them up. Every day new ones would appear. Took me a week to get rid of all them on my own. They reappeared this year but in much smaller numbers. I immediately called the exterminator and told them to nuke everything behind the walls.

  • Seriously folks, make one of those I linked to. Without lying, I can tell you that it can catch 100+ flies within an hour or two.

    Best part: you can watch them suffer and not know where to go.. ah, yes, I am evil too.

  • Last month a neighbor did some pruning which caused lots of flies to make their way into my backyard. For 2-3 days, dozens of them were getting into the house via the air conditioning vents. I used the outdoor, heavy duty Raid sprays and ordered one of those jars of liquid online. (The flies are attracted to the liquid and are thus trapped inside it.) It seemed to work — flies gone for now!

  • add my woes to the chorus above.
    I tried the vacuum bit, found it laborious. my solution? windex. yea. the ammonia in windex stuns them. then when I wipe em up I have a freshly cleaned spot. ^_^

    in the middle of the “cluster fly” fiasco, I moved a box in a surprisingly fly-less room and found a pile of fly corpses and a happy fat spider. I immediately set about making an appropriately sized medal. I have henceforth granted a stay of execution for all spiders and bug eating critters that crawl about in my home.

  • I’ve heard the thing about the rat corpses too. The flies are big and slow, possibly because being a maggot in a rat corpse is such an easy childhood? Now I wonder if that is true. Anyway, gross!

    • Yeah.. and some of them have larvae that oozes out when you swat them.. nice!

      Luckily that has not happened since we made sure to fill in all the little cracks etc. in our foundation and attic space.. I am hoping that means there are no more rats rummaging about. Btw, our neighbors cat is quite the killa! Many a day we’ve found dead, sometimes half eaten (yummy) rats around our and neighbors houses, on the street curb etc. The first cat I ever REALLY liked, I must say.

  • In the Amityville Horror that was one of the early indicators that the house was possessed.

  • We got these twice a year, like clockwork. Fly paper works — it’s gross to have all of the bodies stuck to the paper, and I once accidentally stuck the flypaper to a window and could never get the goo off the glass. But the invasions only last a few disgusting days and it’s non-toxic.

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