Getting Rid of Drain Flies in House Plants

Houseplants are an excellent way to spice up your home decor. Some homeowners even have indoor herb plants, which are great for cooking. These plants can attract flies if they are not using a hydroponic system. Getting rid of flies from house plants is frustrating if you don’t first identify what type you are dealing with.

flies in houseplant by window

Most of these flies aren’t harmful to humans, but they can be very annoying. Some types of plants actually help repel flies, but it is good practice to understand what might also be attracting them to begin with.

The most common types include drain flies, fungus gnats, and fruit flies.

Types of Flies

Drain Flies


These are small flies that have large wings and hairy bodies. You can identify them by the veins on their wings or the roof-like folding of wings. They don’t fly in any regular pattern.

These flies thrive in all damp places like drains, compost, sewers, kitchen and bathroom drains, and other areas that are often moist. Their eggs have a brownish or cream color and take 32 to 48 hours to hatch. It also takes only 14 days for them to mature.

Do You Have Drain Flies?

To make sure that you are dealing with drain flies, you can place a net or tape at the opening of the drain. Then, wait for a few days to see if any of the flies will be trapped. You may even find larger adults resting on your walls.

We recommend speaking with a plumber and exterminator if you suspect a sewer line break under your home.

break in slab

Besides looking for the adult drain flies, you can also be on the lookout for their eggs.

Getting Rid of Drain Flies

You should start by cleaning your drain or any other breeding spot. Using hot water alone isn’t always effective, since the eggs can withstand very high temperatures. Below is a process that still works for most homeowners:

  • Start by unclogging the drains. Clogs cause the accumulation of slime in the pipes, creating breeding conditions for the flies.
  • After unclogging, pour hot water and use a brush to scrub the walls of the drain. This is to ensure buildup and eggs are removed.
  • Next, use a cleaning gel like the Invade Hot Spot. Such products are more effective in removing organic materials in drains and sump pits than bleach.
  • Since adult drain flies can fly away when you’re cleaning, you can eliminate them using chemical sprays. Pyrethrin aerosols are the best for such a task. Dish wash soap is also good at killing these flies. Just mix it with warm water and spray away. 
  • You can also use fly killing devices like fly-swatters. It’s a mechanical way of dealing with adult drain flies, and you’ll have to clean your walls after use!
  • Flytraps made of apple cider vinegar are also a good DIY method on occasion. Fill a can or bowl with apple cider vinegar and cover it with a plastic wrap. Poke holes in the plastic wrap to allow flies to enter. The apple cider vinegar will attract the flies, but once they enter the trap they can’t get out. You can also add dish washing soap to make the trap more effective.

Fungus Gnats

fungus gnat next to ruler

Fungus gnats are typically smaller than a drain flys. They love plants, and moist soil is their favorite breeding ground.

If you water your potting soil often, you may see a lot of these flies. The larvae of these flies feed on roots, but they don’t cause severe damage to the plants. It is not uncommon for them to make their way into the home inside premixed soil or a pre-potted houseplant.

Getting Rid of Fungus Gnats

  • Keep the plant soil dry for a period of time. Since they rely on a moist medium to breed, most of them won’t survive. You can water your plants from the bottom to avoid making the topmost layer of soil moist.
  • To kill the adult fungus gnats, you can place a yellow sticky trap near the houseplant or use spray.
  • Hydrogen peroxide is another effective way of eliminating these pests. Create a soil drench by mixing four parts of water with one part of hydrogen peroxide. 
  • Neem oil and AzaMax products are also effective in getting rid of fungus of gnats in your house plants. However, make sure you read the manufacturer’s mixing instructions.
  • Removing the topsoil will also eliminate the gnat flies. You can also place soil covers such as mulch, sand, or gravel to prevent the adults from laying eggs.
  • Avoid recycling potting soil since you may be transferring the eggs. And when storing the soil, seal the container to prevent the flies from breeding.

Fruit Flies

Fruit Fly

When you have a fly problem, it may not always be drain flies or fungus gnats. Sometimes you may be dealing with fruit flies. As their name suggests these types of flies tend to breed on ripe fruits. They also love being around decaying compost and garbage cans. Kitchen drains are also a common place to find them hovering around.

Get Rid of Fruit Flies

The best way to get rid of fruit flies is to eliminate the source and set fly traps. You can use home remedies, organic or chemical products to get rid of them. For instance, the apple cider vinegar method mentioned previously is an effective way to trap them.

Keeping Flies Out of Your Home

It may be hard to eradicate flies permanently. The goal is to make sure you follow good sanitation practices and understand what causes them to begin with. For instance, you can regularly clean drains to prevent organic matter from accumulating.

When dealing with small flies in you home, it is also important to ensure you identify them correctly. Otherwise, you risk treating the wrong areas.