We Asked 4 Pros for Their Best Tips for Keeping Flies Away Outside — Here’s What They Said

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There are lots of things to love about warm summer weather, like lots of sunshine, more glimpses of birds and other wildlife, and a flourishing garden. Unfortunately summer also brings an influx of less pleasant signs of life, such as the renewed presence of pests like flies.

Knowing how to get rid of flies outside is about more than just comfort. Flies buzzing around you while you’re trying to eat or entertain al fresco can not only be annoying — they also present some very real health risks. “They’re known to be carriers of bacteria and parasites,” says David Price, associate certified entomologist at Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly company. “Almost as soon as they touch your food, they can contaminate it, putting you at risk.” 

To help keep flies away while you’re outside, it’s vital to disrupt their access to food, water, and shelter. Here’s how the pros say you should handle getting rid of flies outdoors.

What attracts flies to your yard and outdoor space?

Molly Keck, a board-certified entomologist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, says flies are always after a food source or a place to lay eggs — and that means any type of decaying organic matter will attract them to your yard or outdoor space. 

Since overgrown lawns, trash and debris, compost, and animal waste can all lure flies, Damian Marcello, associate certified entomologist with Fox Pest Control, says keeping it clean and tidy will help immensely.

“Most of the common fly species that bother us while we are outdoors enjoying our yards and patios have the ability to sense or detect a food source from as far as three to seven miles away,” he explains. “The key to elimination or reduction is to eliminate as many food and harborage sources as possible.” 

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What helps keep flies from gathering around your patio table?

To keep flies away from you and your guests outdoors, Elizabeth “Wizzie” Brown, also a board-certified entomologist with Texas A&M AgriLife, agrees that keeping a regular regimen of cleanliness and being mindful of how you take care of your trash, recycling, and pet waste in the yard will do wonders. Here’s her best advice for preventing flies from making their way to your outdoor space.

  • Use lids on garbage and recycling bins.
  • Keep garbage and recycling bins away from doors, windows, and dining areas.
  • Clean garbage and recycling bins every other month.
  • Pick up any pet waste from your yard weekly.
  • Pick up any fruits that have fallen from trees or plants and either compost them or throw them away.
  • Clean up any spilled bird seed.
  • Clean up old leaves to eliminate possible shelter for flies.

In addition, Price points out that if you’re eating outside, be sure to regularly remove crumbs and food spills to avoid attracting flies.

What are the best methods for getting rid of flies outside?

Pros recommend trying a few different methods to help keep flies away from you during the summer.

Use Fly Traps

Place fly traps away from the area you want to enjoy. Marcello says to use caution  if the trap is designed to lure a fly to it. “Those styles of traps should be placed as far from the leisure areas as possible so as not to increase the activity in the area,” he advises. 

Add Fans to Increase Airflow

Fans and increased airflow in the area will help deter fly activity and disrupt their flight. “Steady airflow is not necessarily a fly’s best friend,” Marcello adds. “A fan blowing outward of the leisure area will help deter not only flies, but other flying insects that may pose a bother to us.”

Light up a Citronella Candle

Citronella candles may help deter some fly species, though results vary. Even if they can keep flies away, be warned that they won’t kill them.

Manage the Source of the Flies

Meanwhile, Keck says source control is the best solution, adding that pesticides are short lived and often not very effective.

“Instead, figure out why they are there,” she advises. “Are there dead plants? Is the dumpster too close to the house? Maybe you have a chicken coop or something else that needs to be moved away from the area where you’ll spend time outside.” 

If you have a large fly population and can’t seem to get a handle on the source, consider spending more time indoors temporarily to avoid them, Keck says. “Outside is where we want them — that is where they are naturally found,” she says. “Preventing them from coming indoors is something you can better control.” 

Lastly, you may need to talk to your neighbors, says Emma Grace Crumbley, an entomologist with Mosquito Squad. “It might sound awkward or difficult, but talking with your neighbors about their yard’s condition, trash storage, and general sanitation can help relieve your (and their) fly problems.”

How do you prevent flies from breeding?

To prevent flies from laying eggs and reproducing, remove any standing water around your property and promptly address any sources of excess moisture, Price says. 

Brown says getting rid of moist organic materials can also reduce egg-laying habitats for flies. These include things like:

  • Pet waste
  • Garbage and recycling
  • Piled up grass clippings

When to Call a Professional to Deal with Flies

When a fly problem becomes too much to handle, it’s time to call a professional pest control service, Crumbley says. Licensed pros will use EPA-registered products to manage flies, no-see-ums, and gnats outdoors, which helps prevent them from moving indoors, too.