Last Updated on September 20, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
We love our beautiful garden flowers and plants, and so do numerous pesky pests such as leafhoppers, aphids, and many more that want to munch on their stems and leaves.
Often dubbed as syrphid flies or flower flies, hoverflies can be found throughout the world, except in Antarctica, and are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers.
However, hoverflies are your friends, because even though they drink nectar from flowers, they help control several different pests in your garden including caterpillars, cabbage worms, mealybugs, and aphids.
What Do Hover Flies Look Like?
Hoverflies resemble wasps, bees, and yellowjackets, owing to their bright color and slender bodies.
Depending on the species, adults range between 1/4” to 1/2” in size. The adult flower flies are the pollinators, and their larvae consume pests. They are larger than fruit flies.
Should I Get Rid of Hoverflies?
In a word, No.
Some gardeners love hoverflies for the essential service they provide, that is pest control, and others prefer to repel not kill them when they become a nuisance.
They aren’t a threat to humans or even the plants and flowers they love, and are in fact an important part of the ecosystem, and play a pivotal role for gardeners.
If they are outdoors, and have not invaded your home, then keeping them around to pollinate your plants, and work as natural pest control is your best bet.
But if you want to learn how to get rid of hoverflies, then this detailed guide will set you in the right direction.
What Are Hoverflies Attracted To?
The adult flies are attracted to mixed garden plantings or weedy borders that are infested with aphids.
They are especially attracted to certain flowers, including wild mustard, Queen Anne’s lace, sweet alyssum, coriander, dill, and other small-flowered herbs.
Hoverflies also often swarm around humans, and even land on them, presumably looking for salts and moisture on the skin.
What is the Lifecycle of Hoverflies?
Females lay tiny white eggs on shoots and leaves located near aphid colonies.
Each female hoverfly may lay hundreds of eggs, and the larvae that hatch in two to three days are small legless maggots that range in color from creamy-white to brown or green.
Hoverfly larvae consume up to 400 aphids each during their developmental period between two and three weeks.
Hoverflies are usually noticeable in the latter half of the growing season after the aphid infestations have plagued your garden.
How To Get Rid Of Hoverflies Naturally?
There are a few ways to get rid of hoverflies naturally, most notably:
1. Use a Fan
The easiest way to remove hoverflies in your outdoor space is with a fan.
Hoverflies do not like the fan and will leave, and move to a different home if the fan is turned on all day.
2. Use a Homemade Repellant
Many amateur gardeners are not too keen on using store-bought synthetic repellents, due to the harsh and toxic chemicals in them, you can easily make your own homemade natural repellents.
But the downside to homemade repellents is that they may not be as effective at getting rid of hoverflies as pesticides, but are still worth a shot.
Lemon and clove are a great alternative to commercial repellents, are easy to prepare, and, best of all, smell great too. You can even use citrus fruit peels instead of lemon.
Simply cut a juicy lemon in half, and place a clove over it. Next, place the lemon and clove in an area flocked by hoverflies, and they should be gone within a few days.
Apple Cider Vinegar Repellent For Hoverflies
Apple cider vinegar is a preferred choice to get rid of several types of insects and pests, including hoverflies.
It is a natural, inexpensive, and easy homemade repellent that’s highly effective at getting rid of hoverflies and other flying insects.
To make the mixture of vinegar, use two ounces of vinegar with two pints of water, and then add a drop of dish soap. Fill a spray bottle with this mixture, and spray it on areas of your garden where the flies visit. White vinegar can also be used.
3. Build a Fly Trap
A fly trap works by luring flies with the scent of the trap, after which they get stuck on the glue. You can even build a sugar water hoverfly trap by taking three tablespoons of sugar and dissolving it in a gallon of water.
Cover this mixture with plastic wrap, and poke some holes in it. The hoverflies are attracted to the sugar, and enter the holes, but can’t get out.
If you don’t want to build a fly trap, you can buy a ready-made fly trap online (amazon link). It is an effective and green alternative to traditional methods of eliminating hoverflies, and features a clear plastic container with a one-way patented lid.
4. Strategically plant nectar-filled plants
We mentioned earlier that hoverflies are attracted to nectar-rich blooms and plants, so planting these types of flowers away from areas you don’t want the hoverflies will prevent them from bothering you.
5. Use essential oil
Lavender oil or eucalyptus oil works well to repel hoverflies. You can apply just a few drops of essential oil on a piece of fabric or paper, and place it in an area where you don’t want the hoverflies.
Essential oils emit a strong scent, which overwhelms hoverflies, and keeps them away from the area. If you can’t get your hands on eucalyptus or lavender oil, peppermint oil also works just as well. This method can also be used to repel sweat bees.
6. Light a citronella oil candle
A citronella oil candle consists of several different types of lemongrass, and the strong citronella smoke repels hoverflies from outdoor as well as indoor environments.
To get rid of hoverflies from indoor environments, place the citronella candle around your porch or at the entrance of your home to prevent the flies from coming inside. You can buy citronella candles online (amazon link), or at your local novelty store.
7. Place a fly zapper
A fly zapper is one of the sure-shot solutions to getting rid of hoverflies, and is available in a wide range of sizes, and can be placed both indoors and outdoors.
Fly traps are fitted with a light, which attracts the hoverflies, where they are then electrocuted. You can buy a fly zapper online (amazon link), or at your local hardware store.
8. Keep your garden dry
A pool of water serves as a breeding ground for hoverflies and other insects, as they use it to lay eggs and drink. So, draining these water-logged areas can help get rid of hoverflies.
9. Plant Some Common Herbs
Some natural herbs are useful for deterring these flies. The scent of plants such as basil and lavender will help to deter them, while also adding a bit of extra greenery to your garden.
How to Get Rid of Hoverflies Indoors?
You don’t have to remove plants from your indoor areas to get rid of hoverflies, but can place them away from windows and doors, as the flies are attracted to their scent and bright colors.
You can also use sticky fly strips to trap hoverflies indoors and outdoors. These indoor traps are made from thick glue and waterproof paper, and should be placed higher towards your ceiling to attract the pollinators.
An electric fly swatter is another guaranteed way to kill hoverflies and other pests on the spot. These swatters feature a volt grid that kills hoverflies, and even wasps with each swing.
How to Get Rid of Hoverflies with Pesticides?
Gardeners sometimes use pesticides to easily kill hoverflies, and spray them often to destroy them completely.
But you need to be careful when using pesticides as they may ruin your gardening efforts, given that they can kill your favorable plants and flowers if they are applied in the wrong location, or if you use the wrong one.
Pesticides can also harm you, especially if you don’t take the necessary precautions such as wearing gloves and eye protection gear.
Getting rid of aphids and other garden pests isn’t easy, but although you may think they are a nuisance at times, hoverflies can help keep them in control, so they are a great benefit to gardeners.
Hoverflies are like bees, but aren’t stingers, and do not bite. They are harmless to your plants, pets, and you. There are far more dangerous pests to apply your pest control methods to!
However, they can be a minor menace for gardeners at times, and due to their natural resemblance with wasps, can be mistaken for being dangerous insects, which is why you may want to eliminate them completely from your property.
There are several ways to kill hoverflies, but it’s recommended that you use natural solutions, and refrain from using pesticides or other chemical methods as they can do more harm than good.