Skip to Content

11 Types Of Flies & A Guide To Identifying Them

Close up of a fly outside.

There are about 120,000 different species of flies. Flies are known to be pests, and although they have a relatively short lifespan, they reproduce rapidly and are hosts to all kinds of diseases.

Houseflies and fruit flies are the most commonly found species of fly. However, you may have come across a few others, and are wondering how many types of flies there are. Learn how to identify them!

Some flies bite, others prefer fruit, and some just love being filthy and enjoy spending time in decaying matter and trash. Identifying the different types of flies will help you determine which flies are in your home, and can also help you find the best way to get rid of them.

Here are the 11 types of flies we will look at in this article:

  1. Black (buffalo gnat) fly
  2. Cluster (grass or attic) flies
  3. Deer/sheep fly
  4. Crane fly
  5. Sarcophagidae /Flesh flies
  6. Horse fly
  7. Sandfly
  8. Blow and bottle fly
  9. Fruit fly
  10. Fungus gnat
  11. House fly

1. Black (Buffalo Gnat) Fly

  • How are they identified? Black flies are small and up to an eighth of an inch long. They have large eyes, short antennae, and fan-shaped wings. Most species are black, but yellow and orange varieties also exist.
  • Where are they found? Black flies are found in semi-tropical regions all year and in other humid summer places. They are predominantly found in North America, Canada, Minnesota, and the upper areas of Michigan.
  • Are they dangerous? Black flies can be dangerous. They can bite, and some people may be allergic to their bite. Additionally, in some countries like Africa and Central America, they can transmit diseases to humans.
  • How do you get rid of them? Black flies are easy to get rid of if it is done consistently. Diet and an insecticide can be used in your yard to kill black flies.
  • Do they bite? Yes.

2. Cluster (Grass Or Attic) Flies

  • How are they identified? Cluster flies are dark grey with a checkered pattern on their abdomen. They are slightly larger than black flies, and their wings overlap when resting.
  • Where are they found? They are common in North America but are also found throughout Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Are they dangerous? No
  • How do you get rid of them? Cluster flies can be challenging to get rid of due to their large numbers. However, you can eliminate them by using fly strips, bleach, decluttering, and destroying their breeding places.
  • Do they bite? No.

3. Deer/Sheep Flies

  • How are they identified? Deer flies are 1/4 – 1/3 of an inch long. They have light brown or gray bodies with yellow and black stripes and large green eyes.
  • Where are they found? Deer flies are found in damp areas and wetlands and are found worldwide.
  • Are they dangerous? Deer flies can be dangerous if they bite you and you develop a bacterial infection.
  • How do you get rid of them? Deer flies are tough to eliminate since they live in natural habitats where insecticides may not be sufficient to remove them. Using a pest control company is recommended to get rid of deer flies, as they may be more challenging to get rid of.
  • Do they bite? Yes.

4. Crane Flies

  • How are they identified? Crane flies are black, red, or yellow in color. They have long legs and elongated faces, and the color of their wings differs depending on the species.
  • Where are they found? They feed on the grass roots and leaves and are more of a pest outdoors or when they fly into a home, get trapped, and keep hitting the ceiling. They are found around streams, lakes, and natural vegetation and spread worldwide.
  • Are they dangerous? No.
  • How do you get rid of them? Insecticides like pyrethroid and imidacloprid are effective in getting rid of crane flies. This can be applied to your lawn to kill the crane flies and their larvae. Crane flies are easy to get rid of but can come back yearly.
  • Do they bite? No.
Close up of a crane fly with long legs outside in the grass.
Crane flies have long legs and are found on grass

5. Sarcophagidae/Flesh Flies

  • How are they identified? Flesh flies are between 0.16 and 0.9 inches in size, with long black and gray stripes on their thorax. They have red eyes and smooth bodies, with little hair.
  • Where are they found? Urban and rural communities across the United States.
  • Are they dangerous? They often pick up disease-causing bacteria and can spread pathogens; this makes them dangerous.
  • How do you get rid of them? To get rid of the flesh fly is to remove damp organic matter, clean up waste and keep outdoor areas clean. Fly traps can also be used. This fly trap from Amazon should be very effective. Flesh flies are easy to eliminate if the area is kept clean.
  • Do they bite? No.

6. Horse Flies

  • How are they identified? Horse flies have grey or black bodies with large eyes. Horse flies have 6 legs and short antennae.
  • Where are they found? Suburban and rural areas near water. They are found worldwide.
  • Are they dangerous? Horse flies are not known to be significant carriers of any disease that affects humans. Still, they carry infectious anemia that affects horses. In addition, horse flies are relatively easy to get rid of.
  • How do you get rid of them? Fly traps, fly lamps, and bug zappers. This bug zapper from Amazon can be used inside or outside.
  • Do they bite? Yes.

7. Sand Flies

  • How are they identified? Sand flies have a fluffy appearance and wings raised above their bodies. They jump and don’t necessarily fly. They are golden, brown, or gray in color.
  • Where are they found? Rocks, caves, and cool, humid places. They are found in Asia, Africa, Europe, and America.
  • Are they dangerous? If a sand fly’s bite becomes swollen, inflamed, and infected, it can be hazardous to your health. They can also transmit a parasitic disease called leishmaniasis.
  • How do you get rid of them? Use an insecticide, and allow air to flow in your home using a ceiling fan or open windows; sand flies are not good at flying. Clean up outside to prevent sand flies from finding a place to reproduce. They are not very easy to get rid of.
  • Do they bite? Yes.

8. Blow And Bottle Flies

  • How are they identified? Blow and bottle flies are 1/5 of an inch in size and have a metallic blue, green gold, or black appearance.
  • Where are they found? Blow and bottle flies are found worldwide.
  • Are they dangerous? These flies are dangerous because they feed and live off rotting and decaying matter, carrying various diseases.
  • How do you get rid of them? First, remove any decaying matter and keep garbage areas and compost piles as clean as possible. Next, locate breeding areas and eliminate them. They are easy to get rid of, and you can use an insecticide and a fly trap made of sticky paper.
  • Do they bite? No.
A green blow and bottle fly on a rotting flower.
Blow and bottle flies live off of decaying matter

9. Common Fruit Flies

  • How are they identified? Fruit flies are 1/8 inch long, with a light-colored body, six legs, and bright red eyes.
  • Where are they found? Fruit flies are found worldwide
  • Are they dangerous? Fruit flies can be hazardous and carry lots of bacteria. They are known to contaminate food, which, if eaten, could make you sick.
  • How do you get rid of them? Remove damp items and keep fruits and vegetables sealed or refrigerated to avoid attracting fruit flies. They are easy to get rid of if sanitation practices are followed.
  • Do they bite? No.

10. Fungus Gnats

  • How are they identified? Fungus gnats have compact bodies with long legs and long thin wings with a vein pattern. They are grey to gray-black in color and have longer antennae than their heads.
  • Where are they found? Near plants, compost heaps, and damp garden areas. Fungus gnats are located worldwide.
  • Are they dangerous? Fungus gnats are not dangerous to humans; they do not carry disease but can harm plants as they feed on their roots.
  • How do you get rid of them? You can make a homemade trap with apple cider vinegar and dish soap. You can also use fly traps for fungus gnats. It’s essential to clear any damp breeding grounds to prevent fungus gnats. They are relatively easy to eliminate if their breeding areas are cleared up.
  • Do they bite? No.

11. Common House Flies

  • How are they identified? House flies are either gray or black in color with red eyes. In addition, House flies have yellow abdomens and transparent wings.
  • Where are they found? House flies are found worldwide
  • Are they dangerous? House flies carry salmonella, anthrax, and the eggs of parasitic worms; this can be dangerous if passed on to humans.
  • How do you get rid of them? A homemade vinegar and dish soap trap can eliminate house flies. Commercial fly traps can also be used to get rid of flies. Clear up waste, keep bins clean and empty your bins regularly. House flies may not always be easy to eliminate as they reproduce quickly. Even with preventative measures, house flies can still infest your house.
  • Do they bite? No.
A common house fly on a cooked shrimp.
House flies can be difficult to eliminate


There are many species of flies that may be annoying but can also be carriers of bacteria and disease. The most commonly found flies don’t bite but can quickly infest your home and garden. Identifying the different types of flies and how to get rid of them can help prevent future infestations.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn from qualifying purchases. See my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.

Find more animal facts here: