How do I deal with aggressive flies in my yard?
July 14, 2010 3:22 PM   Subscribe

I like gardening, but I am put off by a few aggressive flies who never cease to buzz at me or very close to me whenever I go outdoors. Is there any way to deter them?

I wouldn't say I have a fly problem. At any one time, I can only see 3-6 flies in the front yard or back yard. However, as soon as I step outside to do any gardening, 1 or 2 of these flies will territorially and aggressively fly at me or fly very close to me. I believe they are being aggressive rather than just navigationally challenged. They make an awful buzzing around and flies gross me out because they eat filthy things. They make me spin and swat at them like a crazy person.

Although I know one option is to "get over it" and another is "buy a bee keeper's suit off ebay" are there any other ways to deter the flies from coming close to me?

For example, are there any sprays I can spray on my clothing to deter them? Does mosquito spray work for common flies?

I also bought one of those fly traps, but I'm hesitant to use it as it will probably just draw all the neighborhood flies to my yards.
posted by KimikoPi to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Try some lavender oil. 1/4 teaspoon to 1 litre of water, perhaps? Spray on yourself. Lavender Oil deters many insects.
posted by dantodd at 3:45 PM on July 14, 2010

Just wearing a hat seems to deter some types of fly. No idea why, or if this is confirmation bias...
posted by brainmouse at 4:01 PM on July 14, 2010

Kill them. Let them land on you and then crush them.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:12 PM on July 14, 2010

How dorky are you willing to look?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:17 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are you putting on a scented sunscreen or other sweet-smelling application right before going out into the garden? You might try changing that up to something unscented or a combo sunscreen/repellent.
posted by carsonb at 4:24 PM on July 14, 2010

Also, the best way ever to kill a fly is:

- Wait until the ugly thing lands.
- Clap your hands together with great speed just above the fly.

They're faster than you, but dumb enough to take off into your swat. By aiming above them you counteract their speed with your wits.
posted by carsonb at 4:26 PM on July 14, 2010

I'm not sure if it works for all flies, but I've heard that hanging ziplock bags full of water around the area will keep flies away (fully sealed of course so that more flies don't hatch). i guess the reflecting light in the water makes them sense danger. many restaurants do this.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:37 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lavender oil sounds great to me, I second that. There are some good Avon products that are also very effective, cheap and aren't greasy or smelly. I use Skin so Soft when I go camping, and it's really good.

I'd skip the fly traps. They usually use some kind of smelly bait and will attract more flies than you already have.
posted by snsranch at 4:40 PM on July 14, 2010

It's worth trying insect repellent such as Off - depending on the types of flies, that is exactly what such repellents are made for. I have also used bug nets for gardening, which just go over the head (available at REI or EMS) so blackflies couldn't land on my head. I like badger balm, too, but I don't know if it's as effective as off. Some folks find burning citronella candles helps. My mom's used little battery-operated noise generators that make a clicking noise like a dragonfly (the natural predator of many smaller insects).

Summary: There are many options, none of them perfect, but one of them is likely to enable you to garden in relative peace, you'll just have to experiment.
posted by ldthomps at 5:21 PM on July 14, 2010

Seconding Off or Cutter -- I slept outside on a porch for a week on an island off Puerto Rico; once I sprayed that stuff on me, all the no-see-ums and mosquitoes and flies stayed away. Don't know if it will keep ALL insects away. Careful putting it on your face, though -- it'll make your lips tingly and numb!
posted by not_on_display at 5:36 PM on July 14, 2010

I have found peppermint oil to be a decent fly deterrent.
posted by 8dot3 at 5:44 PM on July 14, 2010

avoid wearing black, and avoid eating bananas. At least for mosquitoes those two things help. Wear loose fitting long sleeves/pants, spray your ankles/feet back of neck with bug dope, wear a wide brimmed hat.
posted by edgeways at 5:54 PM on July 14, 2010

I wear a hat with a great big brim all the way around it. Before I put it on, I spray it with Off.

Someone told me that in Australia they wear wide-brimmed hats with strings of beads hanging off them. The motion of the beads deters insects. Conjecture: That might explain those big Mexican sombreros with the fringe, too.
posted by mneekadon at 5:57 PM on July 14, 2010

Your best bet of control will be figuring out what exactly you are dealing with. Flies do not exhibit aggression or territorial behavior towards people. I think it very likely that the flies that are bothering you are biting flies that are after blood for sustenance. I don't know if that makes you feel better or worse. But if you know what you're dealing with you can research how well and which repellents work best. Google something like biting flies and your region (state name works well for region in the U.S.) and you will probably get some government or academic information about pests in your region.

A bee suit might be overkill but a netted hat (look up mosquito hat) might make you feel better. It's a lot nicer to spray bug repellent on a hat than on your hair and face. But bugs are persistent and if you have persistent biting flies in your environment a certain amount of just dealing with it is probably going to be necessary. You should set up the fly trap and see what it does, if it seems to increase the fly population you know, you can just take it down and it will go back to however it was.
posted by nanojath at 6:51 PM on July 14, 2010

Mneekadon is talking about something like this.

Traditionally they were corks tied with leftover string onto your Akubra. I made a half-arsed imitation for a kids school play that consisted of cardboard tubes tied with leftover string onto my Akubra. I was silly enough to test it outside in summer. It worked! It kept the flies away.

It also drove me batshitinsane with the imitation corks waving in my face, but I would wear one of those before I would don a bee suit. And genuine corks would be heavier than my homemade cardboard tubes, so I reckon they would hang lower and steadier, and not fling around your face so much.

Incredibly easy to make at home too.

YMMV. But surely a heap of Aussie swagmen from before last century can't be wrong?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:35 AM on July 15, 2010

« Older Can I sell my nearly new macbook for parts?   |   Movers in NYC? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.