Hoverflies are a common beneficial insect that can annoy you a lot in the outdoor garden. Their feeding habits and appearance can vary from species to species. They are relatively small flower flies growing no more than 10 mm in length. They can hover in the air, hence their name.
If you want to know how to get rid of hoverflies in your yard and garden, you can do so in one of a few ways. Keep in mind that one of these options will work for most situations. The best option will depend on your specific situation.
Ready? Let’s dive in:
What are hoverflies?
Hoverflies (Allograpta oblique) are garden insects with a striped yellow and black body. They closely resemble wasp, sweat bee, house fly, fruit flies, and yellowjackets.
They mimic the pattern of these insects as a natural defense against attackers. These are primarily seen in spring and summer as adult hoverflies use their long, thin legs to hover over flowers.
They are not usually known as pests, but many people consider them to be so. These can be found in large numbers in the garden or home. These are also known as flower fly or syrphid fly, and they eat a wide range of foods.
They can be an annoyance for gardeners and homeowners because they can get everywhere and often mistaken for more deadly pests. For example, there are over 6000 species of hoverflies found on the West Coast alone.
They are beneficial to the garden as they feast on bugs such as leafhoppers and aphids, which can cause disease in plants. In addition, hoverfly presence often makes it easy to identify infected plants as they keep returning to the flowers to eat pests.
Hoverfly larvae are natural predators as they feed on these insects and attach themselves to a stem and build a cocoon. They emerge from cocoons after ten days and feed voraciously on garden-harming insects such as aphids.
70 to 90 percent of the harmful insect population can be controlled by hoverflies. They are very effective biological pest control agents controlling crop-destroying insects, making them gardeners' friends.
You can differentiate Hoverflies from parasitic wasps and bees by checking pairs of wings on them. Hoverflies have a single pair of wings, while wasps and bees have two pairs of wings.
How to get rid of hoverflies naturally?
I was trying to find ways of dealing with hoverflies plaguing my garden last summer. I found several ways to get rid of hoverflies, and some techniques were more effective than others. The two main methods that helped me were using fly traps and applying insecticides.
There are plenty of things you can do to keep them away from your yard. Follow these techniques to help you eliminate hoverflies.
1. Remove hoverflies with a homemade repellent
Most people don’t want to use store-bought synthetic repellents because of the harsh and toxic chemicals inside. The good news is that homemade fly repellent is easy to make.
The bad news is that it may not be as effective as you’d like. However, if you don’t want to use commercial repellents, this is a good alternative.
One of my favorite homemade natural repellents is made of Lemon and Clove. It’s simple to prepare as it only requires two ingredients, and it smells great.
You should cut a fresh and juicy lemon in half and place a clove on it. Then you can put it in an area where hoverflies like to visit. In a few days, you won't find hoverflies visiting that area anymore.
Another alternative is to place fresh oranges or lemons near the hoverflies-infested area. Then, if you prefer, you can wrap it in a cotton cloth or a tea bag with a few drops of neem oil in it to increase its effectiveness.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar Hoverfly repellent
Apple cider vinegar is becoming a popular ingredient in fly repellent products because it repels hoverflies and other unwanted flying insects. This is a cheap, easy, and natural way to make fly repellent. You can mix a pint of apple cider vinegar with two pints of water and one tablespoon of dish soap and fill it in a spray bottle.
You can then spray the solution in areas where hoverflies visit. This hoverfly repellent recipe has a strong smell and packs a punch. Due to this, you should use it only outdoors.
3. Build a fly trap
You can build and use a flytrap or flypaper to get rid of hoverflies. These are very easy to use as they are made from a piece of paper with a glue spread. The hoverfly is guided by the scent of the trap and fly toward it, where it gets stuck in the glue.
The other method is to build a sugar water fly trap. Take three teaspoons of sugar and dissolve it in a gallon of water that you cover with a plastic wrap with some holes in it. The flies are attracted to the sugar smell and get inside through the hole but can’t get out.
4. Strategically plant nectar-filled plants
As you know, hoverflies are beneficial to your garden, and they feed on insects that could damage your garden. So, when you plant nectar-filled flowers, it attracts hoverflies.
In a garden, they get busy feeding themselves and won’t bother you or fly over to the patio. Make sure to grow these plants away from areas where you don’t want hoverflies. Some herb plants such as basil, mint, lavender, and bay leaf are effective in repelling flies.
5. Use Essential oil
You can use essential oil such as eucalyptus oil or lavender oil to repel flies. You can apply few drops of essential oil on a paper or fabric and place it where you don’t want hoverflies to come.
The strong scent of essential oil gets them overwhelmed and keeps them away from the area. Peppermint oil is also a good alternative that you can use.
6. Light up Citronella oil candle
Citronella candle is made of different types of lemongrass. It repels flies and mosquitoes from indoor. The strong smell of these burning candles ( I use this kit from Amazon) stops the hoverfly from coming around the porch or inside the home. You can light a few and place them on a picnic table, grill top, or porch area.
7. Place a fly zapper
Fly zapper is a sure way to eliminate hoverflies (I own this kit I picked up from Amazon). These come in different sizes that you can place around patios or outdoor. The light attracts insects toward it, where they get electrocuted. This is an easy and effective way to eliminate all kinds of flies inside your home.
8. Blow hoverflies away with a fan
Not every garden is a haven for hoverflies, but if it is, you'll want to keep them away. One way to do this is to use a fan, which can work wonders if you have a few hoverflies in your garden.
The fan's wind can cause the insects to fly away from the area they are trying to nest. But you always have to keep a fan running while you work in your garden.
The second way you can use a fan to help deter pests is by creating a wind tunnel. In this, you position the fan at one end of a row of plants. The fan creates a strong, steady wind that blows through the plants.
The wind helps dry the plants and prevents bugs from landing on them. You can also use a fan to help deter pests from damaging plants by blowing them away.
9. Keep your garden dry
A pool of sitting water is a breeding ground for millions of insects such as mosquitoes and hoverflies. Insects use sitting water to lay eggs and drink. Keeping your garden dry will stop flies breeding.
10. Spray insecticide
You can use traditional insecticides, like powders and sprays, if you are still struggling. These are effective but often contain toxic ingredients that could be harmful to children and pets. You can consider getting these insecticides that are less toxic and available on Amazon.
Try to spray them in places where flies are present. Last but not least, if all effort fails, the best way to solve a hoverfly problem is to contact a professional exterminator.
How long do hoverflies live?
Adult hoverflies live for about 10-12 days in the summer. However, some species live longer in the cooler months and shorter in the summer. For example, Hammerschmidtia ferruginea hoverflies can live up to 55-60 days if enough food and water are present.
Do hoverflies bite or sting?
Many people falsely assume that hoverflies sting due to their appearance as a wasp or yellow jacket. In reality, hoverflies are completely harmless as they don’t have a stinger. They are only interested in the plants in the garden and feed on plant insects such as aphids or caterpillars.
The hoverfly is considered a beneficial insect because it pollinates the flowers. It's attracted to the flower's nectar, and many of the flowers are pollinated as a result.
Use the tips in this article to prevent hoverflies bugging you in your garden and patios. As they are also beneficial to plants, its better to deter them from bugging you rather than killing them.
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