Sewer flies: How to Get Rid of Drain Flies

How to Get Rid of Drain Flies

Is there anything more pestering than discovering unwanted visitors in your home? Fruit flies, gnats, and fleas will sure bug (pun intended) you seemingly every moment they hang around, and the same goes for the lesser known but common drain flies.

They might only measure a teeny one-eighth of an inch, but drain flies like to gather around standing water like in showers and other spots. Also known as moth flies, sewer flies, or filter flies, you can identify them based on their gray or taupe color and small, rounded wings. Despite what their name implies, though, they don’t “fly” but rather hop from surface to surface. They won’t go away quickly on their own either since they can live for up to three weeks with new eggs hatching as quickly as every 48 hours.

So how do you get rid of them quickly and permanently? We have the solutions you need for natural DIY home solutions with ingredients like vinegar or store-bought products, plus more helpful information like whether drain flies are harmful.

How do you get rid of drain flies?

The good news is most drain fly issues can be fixed within about a week with regular cleaning and careful attention. Here are five ways to do so:

  1. Start with cleaning your sink and drain with your usual cleaning solution. Use a pipe brush to scrub around and inside the drain.
  2. A super simple fix is to pour boiling water down the drain to eliminate drain flies. Boil a medium-size pot of water once or twice per week, and pour down and around the drain.
  3. Another easy option uses baking soda: Combine 1/2 cup salt with 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar, and pour down the drain. Leave overnight, and finish by pouring boiling water down the drain in the morning.
  4. If you need a heavier-duty way to get rid of drain flies, try a store-bought drain cleaner like Drano or Bio-Clean. These chemical unclogging solutions will clear out the drain and pipes and help eliminate any materials or debris that may be creating a breeding ground for drain flies, thus preventing new eggs from hatching.
  5. If you’re still seeing adult drain flies around, create an apple cider vinegar trap using a small dish covered in plastic wrap. Poking holes in the plastic wrap will lure flies in but prevents their escape.

What causes drain flies?

Drain flies love moisture—stagnant, shallow water—and organic debris, and are most likely to be found near sources of food or bacteria, like sinks and showers. They often favor areas that are not used frequently, like a basement or workshop sink, and are also spotted after a long time away from home, like a vacation. They can even pop up in a relatively clean area.

How do you know if you have drain flies?

If you spot one or two, try this overnight test: Place pieces of tape (sticky side down) over the drain in question. As they try to escape, they will become trapped on the tape, and you’ll have a good indication of just how many flies you’re dealing with.

Are drain flies harmful?

Nope! They don’t bite humans or transmit human disease, but they are a sign that your kitchen could use a deep clean, especially if you want to prevent more insects like roaches from joining the party.

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Amy Mitchell

Amy Mitchell is the managing editor at Country Living Magazine. She writes about a wide range of topics, including homes and lifestyle content.

How To Rid Of Drain Flies – Forbes Home


Table of Contents

  • What Are Drain Flies?

  • What Are the Signs You Have a Drain Fly Infestation?

  • How to Get Rid of Drain Flies

  • How to Prevent Drain Flies

  • Drain Fly Facts, Habits and Threats

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Pests are pests no matter the size. If you’ve got those tiny, fuzzy drain flies buzzing about your drain, you know how annoying the little buggers can be. Whether you call them psychodidae, sink flies, sewer flies, sewer gnats or filter flies, they’re all the same small, gray bothersome pest.

Your home is your domain. The last thing you want to deal with are pests disrupting the peace. While drain flies aren’t the worst pest you may encounter, when or if you do get them, you’ll want to start devising a plan to get rid of them quickly. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.

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What Are Drain Flies?

Often mistaken for fruit flies, drain flies tend to hover around sinks, bathtubs, showers, refrigerator drain pans or anywhere there is stagnant, standing water. They are ⅙ to ⅕ long, light gray or tan with two wings, have six legs and look like tiny moths. They enter homes through drains, windows or the basement.

What Do Drain Fly Eggs Look Like?

Drain fly eggs look brown or cream-colored and can hatch within 32 to 48 hours. Female drain flies lay their eggs in wet, organic matter such as found in drain traps and garbage disposals. They can lay between 30 to 100 eggs and their larvae and pupae exist inside the slime layer in your drain.

Once hatched, pale white larvae will feed on organic material within the drain. Drain fly eggs can mature to adults in seven to 28 days.

Where Are Drain Flies Usually Found?

Drain flies can be found in any state and are mostly found near contaminated water. Drain flies can be found in kitchens, bathrooms and basements. Drain flies can be found in sewers, piles of compost and damp leaves, grass and decaying trees.

What Are the Signs You Have a Drain Fly Infestation?

When you have adult drain flies resting on walls in kitchens, bathroom drains in large numbers, you likely have an infestation. If you suspect you may have an infestation, try placing tape over your drains for a day and then check the other side of the tape.

How to Get Rid of Drain Flies

There’s several ways to get rid of drain flies and typically one or more of these approaches works:

Boiling Water

Boil some water on the stove and pour down your drain several times a day for about a week.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and a little bit of dishwashing detergent in a bowl and leave it by the drain. Drain flies will be drawn to it and sink and die.

Snake Out the Debris

A plumbing snake or a drain clog remover can cut through all that dirty matter and debris inside the pipe.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Mix 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar and then pour the mixture down the drain, leaving it overnight. In the morning, pour boiling hot water down the drain.

If a drain fly infestation lasts longer than 20 days despite different approaches to get rid of them, then it’s time to call a professional exterminator.

How to Prevent Drain Flies

Drain flies don’t have to be a problem in your home. Proper maintenance and cleanliness can go a long way, such as keeping your toilets, sinks, bathtubs, shower and floor drains clean. Get rid of any rotting fruit or produce quickly, keep the dumpster away from the home, fix any leaks, take care of any standing water and mold and place fans at entry points.


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Drain Fly Facts, Habits and Threats

Drain flies can become a headache once they take over your home since their populations can expand quickly and they quickly become harder to control and exterminate. Here’s some important facts to know about these pestersome insects:


Drain flies are weak fliers and don’t like to fly long distances and are typically found on the walls of the bathrooms to basements and anywhere there are sewer drains and plumbing fixtures. They normally stay near drains. Drain flies do most of their activity during the evening hours and can be seen around your drains and sinks. They tend to be drawn to lights and windows too.


Drain flies are typically found in wet or moist areas with organic material, such as storm drains, compost piles or even old logs. They live on flower nectar, sewage and polluted water.


Drain flies don’t bite or sting people and they don’t harbor disease but their old decaying bodies can cause some people to have allergic reactions. But they can be a threat to your pipes by plugging them and spreading bacteria from whatever they touch.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What causes drain flies?

If you notice a big amount of drain flies in your home then you likely have issues with poor sewage drainage or overflows, which make a happy breeding ground for these pests. Make sure to contact a pest control professional to handle a potential infestation.

Will drain flies eventually go away?

Killing adult drain flies is a temporary solution but won’t get rid of them for good. It’s important to first find the source of where they are coming from and then treat that area. Drain fly infestations typically last up to 20 days, but drain flies can quickly reproduce and restart the life cycle, keeping these buggers a constant nuisance in your home.

Where do drain flies lay eggs?

Drain flies tend to lay eggs in areas that make perfect environments such as wet matter and build up in clogged and greasy drains, sewage, compost piles, storm drains and septic tanks.

What do drain flies feed on?

Drain flies feed on flower nectar, sewage and polluted water. They can spread bacteria from your garbage can and old rotting fruits and vegetables.

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Oktyabrsky District Administration – Butterflies living in our premises

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The common butterfly fly, or sewer fly “drainage fly”, is a small insect, the body length of which is no more than 4 mm, light gray in color with a small body and leaf-shaped wings. Both body and wings are covered with fine hairs. Some take it for a moth, wondering where it came from in the absence of fur and woolen things in the toilet and bathroom. Meanwhile, dampness is what attracts this fluffy little butterfly. Butterfly is nocturnal and prefers humid habitats. They fly very slowly over short distances. Quite often, they can be seen sitting motionless on the walls and ceilings of the bathroom or kitchen. Despite the presence of wings, these insects fly extremely rarely, and move mainly due to the wind blowing.

Not requiring special conditions for existence, the butterfly rapidly reproduces from laid eggs. The female fly lays them from 30 to 100 pieces. After two days, larvae appear. Of these, in a few weeks, the “young generation” matures. The small butterfly larva develops in plant rot, manure or garbage. It feeds on organic matter, rotting vegetables, sewage emissions, and small organisms.

Butterfly life period 15-21 days. During this time, many adults may not eat at all. The synanthropic species of these dipterans lives in our bathrooms, pools, on the walls of residential buildings and showers, in basements, baths, kitchens, sewers and sewers, and their neighborhood cannot be called pleasant. They get into apartments in the following way: through cracks in ceilings and floors; through holes in sewers; from clogged drains; through the risers through which water is supplied.

It is often quite possible to get rid of a butterfly bug mechanically – just slap it when you meet it. But at the same time, it will be necessary to carry out some additional measures: after the destruction of the butterflies, the main task of the owners of the apartment is to eliminate excess moisture as quickly as possible. This will help prevent the reappearance of parasites, for which you should create a normal air exchange: dry the room with aeration, opening all windows and doors. And to make walls and other surfaces dry faster, you can put a fan.

Is the moth fly dangerous for humans? No. The insect does not bite, does not spread infections, does not spoil food and furniture, residential structures. However, a large concentration of flies can adversely affect the health of people suffering from allergic diseases, especially children.

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Butterfly – where does the sewer fly come from and how to get rid of butterfly larvae in the bathroom

In the bathroom, corridor, on the stairs, you can find a small insect with fluffy wings , at first glance, it is easy to mistake for a gray or black moth. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that this is more of a midge, however, with fluffy wings. Sometimes these insects fly out in a friendly “flock”, then they sit on the walls in dozens, reluctantly fly away even when the light is turned on or a person approaches. When trying to catch, they fly heavily from place to place, but do not fly away at all. A fly that looks like a moth, an overly fat mosquito or a miniature, up to five millimeters long, night butterfly, is called a butterfly.

  • Who are butterflies
  • Where do sewer moth flies come from and how do they reproduce?
  • How dangerous is the sewer butterfly fly
  • How to get rid of a sewer fly – a butterfly in an apartment

Who are butterflies

Butterfly is a separate family of insects from the Diptera order, the long-whiskered suborder. About two hundred species live in Russia, and almost three thousand in the world. The name is given for the “fluffiness” characteristic of night butterflies and moths, but the species are not even relatives.

  • The butterfly clogmia albipunctata is the most common species in the world, also called the drain or drain fly. In nature, it lives in tropical forests, and next to people – near sewers, sewage treatment plants. The larvae are orderlies, they purify wastewater. The wings of this species are slightly pointed, decorated with small white spots.
  • Butterfly psychoda phalaenoides is a common, synanthropic species that breeds massively in basements and sewers. The simultaneous departure of a large number of these insects sometimes gives people a lot of inconvenience.
  • Mosquitoes or phlebotomuses are a subfamily of butterflies, common in the tropics, subtropics, and Central Asia. Like mosquitoes, these insects need blood for reproduction: without it, the maturation of eggs does not begin. Insects moving in clouds in search of prey cause inconvenience to people, animals, including birds and reptiles. Unlike mosquitoes, mosquito larvae develop, like all moths, in various organic remains.

Where do sewer moth flies come from and how do they reproduce

Butterflies live and breed in damp areas: cellars, sewer wells, as well as damp forests and ravines. In their development, they go through stages characteristic of all dipteran insects: eggs, larvae, pupae, adults or adults.

Female lays 30 to 100 eggs in swampy puddles, stagnant ponds, damp soil, damp moss, manure, decaying remains, organic debris. The larvae of them appear in a couple of days.

The length of the body of a butterfly larva, consisting of about twenty segments, is 3-7 mm. It looks like a gray or brown worm. The anterior part of the larva is covered with numerous bristles, which makes it look hairy. At the back is a breathing tube surrounded by a rosette of hairs. Being in the water for breathing, it is enough for the larva to expose the rear part of the body to the surface. The period of life and development of the larva, depending on the favorable conditions, is from 8 to 20 days. They feed on decaying organic matter. The fully grown larva pupates and after five days an adult butterfly is born.

An adult insect lives from five days to a month, feeding mainly on dew and plant nectar. Some species do not feed as adults. Despite the presence of wings, it flies poorly. It prefers to soar in the currents of wind or warm air, often rising from sewer wells, damp basements.

There are many legends related to the fact that insects supposedly can appear from dirt or dampness, literally from the void. In the case of butterflies, this idea is not without meaning. They really appear where high humidity becomes the norm. In an apartment, bathrooms, toilets and kitchens are often chosen, making their way into them mainly through the ventilation ducts that permeate the house from the basement to the roof. Butterfly larvae easily survive in sewer pipes, feeding on the remaining mucus, fatty residues, feel at ease in blockages. In a private house they can live in a septic tank.

What is dangerous about the sewer butterfly fly

The main threat is not so much the butterflies themselves, but their way of life. They spend most of it among a variety of rot, waste in sewers, basements. Penetrating into human housing, midges from the sewer on their paws and fluffy body carry with them a variety of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. As a result, in a room where there are many butterflies, people can develop various diseases, from allergies to intestinal infections. The danger from one or two butterflies tends to zero.

Mosquitoes are the biggest threat to people. With their saliva, when bitten, a person can become infected with various types of leishmaniasis – dangerous diseases that affect the liver, spleen, bone marrow, as well as phlebotomic fever. Fortunately, in Russia they are distributed only in a small area.

The very fact of the presence of butterflies indicates an unhealthy, dangerous environment for humans. Butterflies for development need not only high humidity, but also decay products of organic matter. If, for example, butterflies are not removed in the bathroom, it is very likely that mold colonies live somewhere under the bathroom and on the pipes, rot spreads, and blockages form in the pipes.

How to get rid of a sewer fly – a butterfly in an apartment

Unlike most insects living in a person’s apartment, the butterfly is not particularly cunning or survivable. However, she takes incredible fertility and reproduction rate. About once a month a new generation of butterflies appears, while each new adult female can lay up to a hundred eggs. It is safe to say that they multiply exponentially.

A person who went on vacation, in whose apartment a faucet was leaking, and in the drain pipes there were enough places with blockages, lumps of dirt from various organic matter adhering, runs the risk of finding clouds of butterflies upon arrival, not only in the kitchen, toilet and bathroom, but, on condition cool and damp summer, even in the rooms.

You can get rid of adult sewer flies – butterflies using any familiar method of insect control:

  • Mechanically, with a fly swatter or an improvised object. Butterflies are in no hurry to fly away from the walls, even when they kill nearby insects.
  • With industrial aerosols. And it is not necessary to use strong ones, such as Dichlorvos. You can use those that are designed to fight mosquitoes and do not require long-term ventilation and the absence of people during processing.
  • Fumigators included in the mosquito net are also harmful to adult moths.