Flies are often associated with dirt and stink. They can make the cleanest space unpleasant, even if it’s your fully organic composting toilet. So if you spend a lot of time outdoors, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of flies in the garden. We have ideas that might help.
How to Get Rid of Flies in your Garden
Tip #1: Follow That Fly
Indoors, you can get rid of flies via natural spray remedies like vinegar and cinnamon. But outside, it helps to find out where the flies live. Observe them for a while to see where they congregate. Flies don’t live long – maybe a week or two. But they lay hundreds of eggs.
You also need to know what type of fly you’re dealing with. Fruit flies are trickier than house flies, and you may easily mistake them for drain flies. Blowflies – especially blue bottle flies are easy to spot. Either way, knowing the species and (hiding) spot is a good first step.
Tip #2: Deep Clean the Garden
You might not spot flies until they sneak into the house. Their bothersome buzzing is far more distressing (and embarrassing) indoors. So as you scope the garden to fond where they’re laying eggs, check your house entrances too. Especially cracks, gaps, and leaks.
Sealing these crevices will keep the flies outside. And once you find their headquarters, get rid of any visible garbage, dog poo, stagnant water, or stinky spots. Wash your wheelie bins, disinfect them, and cover tightly. Secure the compost. Finish those flies before they start.
Tip #3: Treat your Wheelie Bins
You’ve already disinfected (and probably fumigated) all your wheelie bins. But no matter how pretty your bin covers are, active bins are a beacon for flies and other pests. Separate your trash for easier garbage management (and recycling). Then focus on organic rubbish.
Specifically, you want to avoid maggots. Maggots are fly larvae, but we notice them more easily than fly eggs … and they grow into flies by the hundreds! Spray the edges of the bin lid with commercial pesticides. It keeps the flies from landing and laying eggs in the bin.
Tip #4: Repel Repel Repel !!
Fly repellents have varying levels of success. A can of bug spray might kill the fly on contact, so any traces in the air or garden surfaces (like bin lids) might be useful. Be careful to wash your hands after handling these surfaces. You may forget and touch your eyes or mouth!
Toxins could also find their way into food, kids, and pets, so if you must spray fly repellent on your garden furniture or window sills, consider using safe ingredients like dish soap, vinegar, citrus oils, garlic infusions, or even baggies of vodka. Flies dislike all these smells.
Tip #5: Make a DIY Fly Trap
If you’ve ever had a bee bug you as you drank your favourite soda, you know one way to trap a fly. Get a used soda can or plastic bottle with that sweet sugary goodness still inside. Just the dregs will do. Leave it at a fly-prone spot. They’ll get in easily. Getting out … not so much.
You can also seed water bottles with bits of bananas and other sweet sticky fruits. You can dump candy in the bottle as well. The flies will have a tough time climbing up the sides of the bottle. For drain and fruit flies, you can cover the bottle with cling film and poke holes in it.
Tip #6: Use Sugar and Spice
Flies are attracted to sickly-sweet scents (and repelled by pepper and dry spirits – whether distilled or methylated). So while vodka baggies may tempt the teens while keeping the flies away, this potent mix of sugar and vinegar will lure and trap better than sultry sirens.
Cut the top off a plastic bottle and invert it to stop the flies getting out. Fill the bottle with vinegar, sugar (and yeast if you’re targeting fruit flies). Finish with liquid dish soap and place the bottle in the garden. Secure the bottle to stop pets (and larger pests) from tipping it.
Tip #7: Play With Bait
The web is full of interesting ideas you can use as fly bait. The basic concept uses a plastic bottle with a narrow lid. Or for smaller flies and gnats, you can cover a surface with plastic foil and prick it with toothpicks. Use a mixture of tangy and sweet for bait and switch.
This bug hunter used raw eggs in honey in one trap. Her second trap – loaded with salad shrimp – worked way better. Test different items from the bin and garden to see what’s the most effective. You can seed the trap with molasses or trash from the flies’ breeding spot.
Tip #8: Try Citrus Solutions
You may have heard that flies hate citrus. But you probably didn’t know about your local neighbourhood carriers of Vitamin C. It’s not just oranges and lemons. You can get that citrusy fly-bugging scent from tomatoes and strawberries too? Plant these strategically.
Other sources of citrus scent include lime, citronella, lemon, orange, grapefruit, and more. You can use these essential oils as part of your home-made fly trap or repellent. They work best indoors. Outside, you can still spray your garden furniture, bin lids, taps, and hoses.
Tip #9: Invest in Essential Oil Sources
Essential oils are pricy! And often misunderstood. They’re not indispensable (as in essential services … or essential workers). Rather, they’re a form of essence extracted from plants (as in vanilla essence). And flies hate them! So a few drops of essential oils might do the trick…
But you’re reading this article because you’re stumped on how to get rid of flies in your garden. And essential oils come in tiny expensive bottles – you don’t want to waste that precious dose! Plant the thing instead. Try eucalyptus, elderberry, basil, lavender, or chilli.
Tip #10: Bring out the Spice Rack
It’s clear by now that the kitchen (and kitchen-related items) are a feast for flies. Bet you didn’t know you could find so many fly killers in there as well! We’ve already discussed some common kitchen repellents – white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) makes an excellent base.
Among your herbs and spices, we’ve mentioned garlic, basil, and most kinds of pepper. Here are a few more herbs you can plant to get rid of garden flies: bay leaf, cloves, mint, rosemary, woodruff, and tansy. These plants keep flies away, and are bothersome to other bugs too!
Tip #11: Fight Bugs with Bugs!
Yes, the original metaphor is more flammable … but the idea is sound. We use cats to get rid of mice (and dogs to chase off the cats?) so why not do the same with bugs? Lots of insects consider flies a delectable snack, so try breeding a few fly predators like wasps and ladybirds.
Lacewings and pirate bugs are other examples. Grow the type of plants these insect warriors like – dill and basil are firm favourites. Other fly-feeders like birds and chameleons help too. But they introduce other issues to the garden – bird poop is almost as annoying as maggots!
Tip #12: Cut the Grass
Our cousins across the pond are more likely to mow the lawn. Either way, keeping your grass short seems like a strange solution. When you’re pondering how to get rid of flies in the garden. After all, grass is green, fresh, alive! Hardly the kind of thing stinky flies enjoy.
But tall grass makes a good hiding spot for puddles, rotting leaves, and other decaying debris. So cut your grass regularly and inspect it for decomposing matter. On the upside, short grass will keep away more harmful pests like snakes and other brush crawlers.
Tip #13: Use Predator Plants
You can’t finish a discussion on how to get rid of flies in your garden. Not without mentioning venus fly traps. These seemingly alien plants are fascinating to observe … even when they’re not rivalling the kill-count on your fly swatter! The pink plumes are pretty too!
These predatory plants look gorgeous in your garden and will keep it pest-free. Besides the famous Venetians, other rooted fly-feeders include monkey cups (yes, monkeys use them as cups), lobster pots, and bladderworts. Some of these fly-eaters come complete with tentacles!
Tip #14: Bring on the Fly Paper
Flypaper comprises sticky paper infused with a sweet scent. Some people call it a fly strip, fly ribbon, fly tape, or fly catcher. It’s a good solution for indoor flies. And you can leave some by the kitchen window or stick a few pieces under the lid and on the rims of your wheelie bins. If flypaper seems too mean, buy a re-usable box trap, baited bag trap, or no-fumes fly tape.
But did you know flypaper can be organic too? No, it’s not made form quick-rotting paper. Organic flypaper is found on the leaves of carnivorous plants like butterworts and Australian catapulting flypaper traps. It’s probably where we got the idea to kill flies with sticky paper.
Tip #15: Protect the Porch
If you have any alfresco areas of canopied spaces in the garden, they may attract flies. Especially if you regularly use the space for barbecues, picnics, or general entertaining. You can hang ultraviolent lamps of the roof or branches at night – they’ll zap the flies for you.
You can also sprinkle cloves on any window sills, staircases, or ledges. You’ll love the smell … but the flies won’t. If the spot is sheltered, you can light candles – the fumes keep flies away. But never leave the candle unattended. You can also install fans – moving air deters flies.
What anti-fly remedies are you using at the moment? Give us some tips in the comments!