Not everyone likes seeing insects in the garden, on the patio, or in the living room, but hoverflies are some of the most common outdoor insects and they play an important role because they are key pollinators.
They can often be annoying because of their constant buzzing and flying into people, making you wonder how to get rid of hoverflies.
Although they’re flies, regular fly traps might not work with these insects. They’re distinctly different from other flies, and in this article, I’ll be explaining how to recognize hoverflies, and how to deter them.
I’ll also be shedding some light on how to determine if they’re useful and if you should leave them be.
- How To Get Rid of Hover Flies Naturally
- Other Methods of Getting Rid of Hover Flies
- Permanent Hover Fly Removal
- Identifying Hoverflies
- FAQ How to Get Rid of Hoverflies
- Final Thoughts on Getting Rid of Hover Flies
How To Get Rid of Hover Flies Naturally
There are numerous ways to manage hoverfly problems. Before we get into the various methods, it’s worth acknowledging that whilst these flies may be a nuisance, they bring many benefits to our backyards. They are fantastic at helping control aphids, as well as pollinating plants and trees.
That being said, let me outline a number of natural and harmless methods of repelling hoverflies, followed by a few more permanent options for killing them.
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1. Mix Apple Cider Vinegar with Dish Soap
Dilute this solution with water and spray it on your flowers to keep the flies away. They mostly react to the vinegar, so trying a plain vinegar-and-water solution can prove effective too.
This solution needs to be applied every few days as it will quickly dissipate (especially if it’s very hot outside). Additionally, if you apply it to your flowers, you’re ensuring that no pollinators pollinate them, which is detrimental to the plant not to mention your local ecosystem.
It’s also possible that apple cider vinegar will attract fruit flies – to the flies, it smells like rotting fruit. That’s why a solution of apple cider vinegar and dish soap in a jar is used to trap and drown fruit flies.
2. Spraying Herb-Infused Oils
Pollinating insects react negatively to many herbs and spices. Rosemary, thyme, and citrus or peppermint essential oils are natural repellents.
Mixing them with water (in either a 1:4 or 1:3 ratio) and spraying the solution on flowers could be enough to keep the flies at bay.
Unfortunately, just like with apple cider vinegar, this solution needs to be reapplied as soon as it dissipates, as the flies will once again infest your garden.
3. Using Irish Soap To Repel Flies
Irish spring soap is often referred to as a great natural repellent. Thousands of people online claim that hanging it in a mesh bag on the patio will keep the flies away.
There is, as of now, no scientific study confirming this or denying this. It’s possible and it’s worth giving it a shot but there’s no guarantee that it will work.
Most natural deterrents are scent-based — animals won’t approach an area if it smells foul to them. Vinegar and lemon, for example, are common scent-based animal deterrents.
There are still animals that will ignore these scents and they’ll stick around in your yard just the same. Therefore, don’t be disappointed if this one doesn’t pan out.
4. Homemade Sugar Fly Traps
Homemade fly traps can be made with many different ingredients — usually, something mimicking rotting fruit or animal matter. In the case of hoverflies, you have to use sugar as they’re simply not attracted to anything other than nectar.
If you have a hoverfly infestation in your house (this is highly unlikely, though, as they prefer to be near flowers), try mixing sugar, water, and a bit of liquid dish soap.
The sugar and water mix should attract the hoverflies, while the liquid dish soap will stick to them and make them drown.
This method most likely won’t work if you try it outside. The smell of sugar and water won’t be strong enough to attract the flies and they’ll just continue eating flower nectar.
5. Burning Citronella Candles
Using citronella to repel flies is an age-old method of deterring flies and most people are familiar with lighting a candle and placing it on their patio table on a balmy summer evening.
However, their area of application is severely limited. The scent of the candle doesn’t spread farther away than a few yards.
It’s a great way to keep flies away from your home or the terrace, but it’s almost impossible to keep flies away from your yard because you would have to light hundreds of candles at the same time.
They can be very useful if they’re utilized properly, especially when getting rid of flies in closed spaces.
6. Using a Fan or Creating a Draft
If there are hoverflies in your home, the easiest thing you can do is open up the windows. This works in two ways.
Firstly, you’re creating a draft that will force the flies out.
Secondly, the flies most likely don’t want to be in your home. Unless you have a miniature garden inside, hoverflies are more interested in pollinating and feeding on the nectar of plants found outdoors. If you open up a window, they’ll use it to get out.
It’s possible that the flies won’t get the hint when you open up windows. In that case, feel free to turn on a fan and blow them out. Animals naturally avoid windy areas and tiny flies will be blown about, realize that this place isn’t safe for them, and leave.
Other Methods of Getting Rid of Hover Flies
These methods of hoverfly removal are more aggressive and will result in killing this beneficial insect. I would only recommend using these tactics if you have a significant infestation that is leading to intolerable living conditions.
7. Using Insecticides
According to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, spraying your flowers with broad-spectrum insecticides will definitely kill hoverflies. Gardeners often apply insecticides regardless of hoverfly presence as they kill aphids and other pests. Buy Residual Insecticide
However, it is recommended that you do not use this method. Since hoverflies are beneficial insects, killing them is not good for bio-diversity (to say the least).
It’s understandable that you might want to deter them from the garden if they’re such an eyesore, but killing them prevents them from pollinating other gardens, as well as wild plants.
Needless to say – do not apply insecticides indoors! If there’s a serious hover fly infestation, be it indoors or outdoors, that you can’t end despite natural methods. In such cases, it’s better to call professional exterminators.
8. Installing Fly Traps and Zappers
Zappers are probably the most effective insect-killing method out there. By nature, insects can’t ignore a light in the dark – they’ll always approach it and get electrocuted. If you’re looking to kill the hoverflies in your yard (or other insects), you can’t miss with zappers.
Fly traps have mixed results with hoverflies. Unlike most flies, adult hoverflies aren’t attracted to both animal and plant matter, so only sugary fly traps will attract them.
However, it’s possible that said sugary fly traps won’t work either, especially if there’s an abundance of flowers in your garden.
Permanent Hover Fly Removal
If you have struggled to get rid of your hoverfly problem, then you need to rethink your approach. Why are they there? It is probably something that you can change, such as the removal of attractive plants or flowers.
9. Introducing Low-Pollen-Producing Plants in Your Garden
Hoverflies are pollinating insects and they’re naturally attracted to plants with a high pollen count. Although it might hurt your garden’s look, there is, unfortunately, no method more effective at getting rid of hoverflies than removing your existing plant and investing in low-pollen plants.
This often means that there’s less color and fewer flowers in the garden, which gardeners hate, but it also guarantees that your garden is less attractive to these insects.
Removing Hover Flies from Patios
Patios are attractive if there are flowers hanging around. Simply removing them should also remove the hoverflies. Since the patio area is restricted, unlike the garden, it’s one of the few instances where lighting citronella candles is actually effective.
Removing Hoverflies from Lawns
Lawns are usually attractive to hoverflies if they happen to contain weeds with tiny flowers that are difficult to control and seem to grow endlessly on my lawn during the summer months. Daisies are a good example, as well as wild violets and chamomile.
Mowing your lawn regularly and ripping out large flowers (chamomile can grow to quite a size) will deter the flies from the lawn. The grass itself isn’t interesting to flies.
Removing Hover Flies from Conservatories
The easiest way of getting flies out of conservatories is by lighting citronella candles and opening the windows. You can also use a fan to blow the flies out.
To prevent them from coming back again, I recommend installing insect meshes on all the windows.
Before deciding to get rid of any insect, you must first learn to recognize them and understand the function they play. People often confuse bees, wasps, and hoverflies with each other. So let’s point out a few distinct characteristics of hoverflies so you can accurately identify them.
What Do Hover Flies Look Like?
Also known as flower flies, hoverflies usually have a pattern of black with brown or yellow spots, bands, and stripes covering their bodies. Because of this, they’re often mistaken for bees and wasps, although they’re clearly not the same animal when you look closely. I know that I thought the hoverflies in my garden were actually sweat bees until I got a good look at one!
The size of a hoverfly depends on the exact species. They can be as small as 3 millimeters or as long as 2 centimeters.
Hoverflies are a worldwide species. They’re found in every biome around the entire world except for Antarctica and extremely hot deserts. They’re normally found near flowering plants as they feed on pollen and nectar.
What Attracts Hoverflies To Your Home?
The most important thing attracting flies to your home is food – these flies are attracted to fruit and flower gardens. Flowering plants will attract plenty of pollinating insects, such as honeybees, ground bees, and hoverflies.
It’s been determined, however, that different hoverflies have different preferences when it comes to habitat. Some of them prefer aquatic or semiaquatic habitats, so they might be attracted to your yard because it’s close to a stream or river, or if you have a pond.
During the summer, hoverflies are known to invade urban areas in swarms. Unprotected gardens are not only a source of food, but they also provide protection from the sun.
Having hoverflies in your yard, however, might not be a bad thing, as I’m about to explain.
Hover Fly Life Cycle
Just like other flies, hoverflies develop from maggots to adult insects.
Although adult hoverflies feed on nectar, maggots (young, undeveloped hoverflies) feed on both animal and plant matter (usually decaying matter). In this stage, hoverflies can be very useful for the garden because they’ll also feed on aphids, thrips, and other common pests.
As adults, hoverflies are important pollinators. They pollinate flowers and crops in great numbers, which is why they’re considered to be the second-most important pollinators (with bees being the title holders).
Are Hover Flies Harmful?
Hoverflies are definitely not harmful. They’re some of the most useful insects in the world. The relationship between people and hoverflies has been quite positive – not only are they great pollinators but their larvae feed on common pests.
Some gardeners and farmers use companion plants that will attract hoverflies so they can keep the plants free from pests but also well-pollinated. Some of these companion plants are garden candytuft, chamomile, parsley, and buckwheat.
Despite their apparent similarity to bees, hoverflies do not possess a stinger and they have no means to hurt humans or pets. If you’re figuring out how to get rid of hoverflies out of fear, know that these bugs are completely harmless and are, in fact, very useful to your garden.
FAQ How to Get Rid of Hoverflies
Final Thoughts on Getting Rid of Hover Flies
Hoverflies are immensely useful insects and most experts don’t recommend removing them. They can only help your garden grow, while their larvae feed on pests, thus keeping your garden healthy. Hoverflies are also harmless to people.
If you’re still looking at how to get rid of hoverflies, know that they’re attracted to plants with a high pollen count. Investing in low pollen-count plants will attract fewer hoverflies.
They can also be deterred with various natural deterrents, such as vinegar and essential oils, as well as citronella candles. Indoor hover fly infestations can be solved with a powerful fan or by creating a drought.