Drain Fly Or Phorid Fly?

February 14, 2012


A common homeowner complaint: “I have these tiny things flying around in my kitchen/bathroom/basement etc… they are a little bigger than a gnat and are about to drive me crazy. What are these things?”

Well, if they have red eyes and are hovering around exposed fruit then they are fruit flies. We’ll talk about them another time. If their eyes are not red then drain flies or phorid flies may be the answer. Although these two are of similar size, there are some important differences, including health risks.

drain fly on white background

The easiest way to identify a drain fly is by it’s fuzzy, moth-like wings; a phorid fly has much smaller and almost transparent wings. A drain fly breeds in stagnant water, which is why seldom used or clogged drains are a favorite target; a phorid fly breeds in decaying organic matter such as dead animals, dung, fungus, and other such disgusting places. Drain flies are only considered a nuisance and not a health risk; while phorid flies can be a health concern because of the unsanitary places they may have just come from before they landed and walked around on your table.

The key to eliminating both types of flies is by removing the breeding sources. For the drain fly, this is simple: stagnant water. Remove all the stagnant water from the area and the problem will be solved in about two weeks. Finding the source of the phorid flies can be trickier. In offices, the most common source is overwatered plants, flower vases full of putrid water, and dirty moist mopheads. Common breeding sites around the home can be a clogged drain, moist residue in the bottom of a trashcan, garbage disposals, and faulty septic systems. If you have pets you might want to check for soiled bedding materials and excrement that may have accumulated in cages or fenced-in areas.




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