I would like to be the Lord of the Flies.
July 28, 2014 9:56 AM   Subscribe

There are a couple bushes in our front yard that are attracting an insane amount of flies. How do I destroy them, and make my front yard livable again?

We noticed the problem about two weeks ago; there's a couple of half-dead bushes on the front of our house (facing west). In a perfect world, we would cut them down. We can't cut them down, as we rent and the owners would prefer said bushes to remain. They're about 6 feet tall, and 2-3 feet wide each.

There is a veritable swarm of flies living in each one; I'm guessing upwards of 50-100 flies in each of them. Every movement near the bush makes them go insane and then the front yard is just lousy with flies. I can't really identify the type of fly, but they're medium sized. Bigger than a fruit fly, but smaller than like a horse fly or something. They have a greenish blue tint on the outside. They don't bite or seem to bother anyone in the family, other than being in a gigantic cloud.

We have a dog, and have made sure to pick up after him every. single. time. he uses the yard. There is no garbage nearby. There is a hose spigot, but it's not used regularly. I have no idea what their eating, if anything, but they seem very attracted to said bushes.

What tactics should we be using to get rid of these miserable little beings? This seems beyond a couple little curlicue fly strips hung around the bushes.
posted by furnace.heart to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
This sounds like a health issue that the landlord needs to deal with, and "Don't cut down the bushes that are infested with flies" is the exact opposite of dealing with it. Try calling the Community Alliance of Tenants or an attorney who specializes in tenants' rights.
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Warrant of Habitability laws in Oregon stipulate that the landlord is required to keep premises vermin free.
posted by brookeb at 10:09 AM on July 28, 2014

If it were me, I would put on long pants, a long shirt, some sort of netting for my head and look inside the bush. Maybe there is a dead bird in there or some other fly attraction. Perhaps this can be addressed by removing the attracting source. I would also spray the whole bush with some sort of Raid Fly spray. It may not solve the problem but it will have some affect on the existing flies.
posted by 724A at 10:17 AM on July 28, 2014

Flies (and ants, and other bugs) are attracted to plants that are covered in aphid honeydew. Are the bushes half-dead because they're infested with aphids? If so, get rid of the flies by getting rid of the aphids -- just spray the bushes with aphid killer.
posted by erst at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2014

Do the bushes seem to be flowering? There are some bushes (like the Spreading Euonymus, a few entries down) whose flowers attract flies. If so, the good news is that the fly swarms would lessen when the flowers went away, though your landlord should still be taking care of this.

When you say bluish, do they look like this?
posted by theweasel at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2014

Have a look at fungus gnats online. If it's a match, you can be rid of them fairly easily by buying and applying some Beneficial Nematodes.
posted by xo at 10:26 AM on July 28, 2014

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but we're not looking for legal options yet. This isn't as serious as a habitability issue, it's an annoyance to us. We'd like to try and solve the problem ourselves first.

We're not super interested in involving our landlords. Our landlords are amazingly lazy (nice, friendly, yes, but lazy and slow) and projects like this turn into multi-week inconveniences for us. We're not against involving them, if we can't fix it ourselves. Our rent is remarkably below market, and our house on a whole is completely livable, workable, and comfortable. Our finances as they are don't allow us to immediately lawyer up or for us to move. Those are different askme topics, that might come down the pipeline someday.

Legal solutions are our last resort. We're just trying to get rid of some flies. Oregon Landlord law is kind of a pain in the ass when it comes to non-rodent vermin; it's poorly defined and we'd really just rather not go this route.

As soon as I get pictures of the bushes, I'll post them up here, but they don't seem to match the ones linked above.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:30 AM on July 28, 2014

Use a sprinkler like this one, which are easily set to an angular range to spray the underside of the leafs where the flies are sheltering for the night. Use it at dusk when the flies are coming "home" and they will go elsewhere.
posted by vapidave at 10:43 AM on July 28, 2014

I once came home ot massive swarm of flies in my house. There must have been something that caused it, but no idea what. Wikihow suggests these things may deter flies. lavender oil, Citronella oil, Eucalyptus oil, Pennyroyal oil, Peppermint oil, Lemongrass oil. How to Get Rid of Flies Indoors & Outdoors also has good info. I'd try the lavender oil, in water, sprayed with a sprayer that attaches to the hose. Even a detergent solution would help.
posted by theora55 at 10:55 AM on July 28, 2014

I'd try using a lantern-type bug zapper. Set it up, and at night, disturb the bushes. On the way back to the bushes, the flies will take a detour of death.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:58 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would try and find out the type of bush and the type of flies first.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:59 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd try using a lantern-type bug zapper. Set it up, and at night, disturb the bushes. On the way back to the bushes, the flies will take a detour of death.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:58 AM on July 28 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]

That suggestion is so genius - I don't care if it actually works. The vision of a cloud of flies being zapped by a electric bug killer in a explosion of Chinese firecracker proportions is making laugh out loud.
posted by helmutdog at 11:28 PM on July 28, 2014

« Older How to open "file://" hyperlinks in Internet...   |   How can I clean a moldy-smelling down comforter? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.