It’s August, and here on the farm, that means fly season – my least favorite time of the year. I’m one of those who can’t stand them buzzing around my food and crawling all over the walls and windows of my home. I’ve gone to great lengths to eliminate them from my life – thankfully with some success.
When you have lots of animals yourself and live next to over 100 cows, flies are a part of your summer. Controlling them is definitely a goal. Late summer meals out on the deck can easily be ruined when uninvited flies attend in mass. My family is often amused – I suppose – by my lace tent like covers that I place over the serving platters. I just cannot bear the sight of flies all over the entrée’s. Through years of experimentation and with great effort, I have discovered some things that work and I am happy to share them with you. Possibly you have the same problem. Hopefully one of the many methods will work for you. I have saved the best for last. It is the one you probably will doubt the most, but I have to say; it is very effective and makes life in the kitchen in bearable.
I spend a considerable amount of money on Arbico’s natural “fly eliminators,” which are tiny wasps that feed on fly larvae. Monthly I receive a packet of these wasps and sprinkle them over the cow pies, horse manure, and chicken manure. In no time there are trillions of teeny tiny wasps swarming the manure. We do see less overall flies, and if you don’t spray with pesticides, they multiply abundantly. We usually get two years worth of control out of one season’s applications. They do a fairly decent job, but by no means do they take care of the problem completely.
I also set up fly traps made of this terribly stinky stuff that I squirt in plastic milk jugs or similar containers. I hang them up all around the farm trying to attract adult flies into the containers from which they cannot escape. The problem with those is you can’t get them too close to an area you like to be in or the stench will be more distasteful than the flies. Additionally, you will have more flies buzzing around in those areas because they like rotten smelling odors. So, hanging them in my kitchen or anywhere that I like to sit outside is a NO. I do realize that hanging far from my favorite spots will draw them away from where I like to be. But, I live on a farm with lots of animals and next to lots of cows. Regardless of how many are attracted by the containers, there are still many more that like to rove around the doors more than around the smelly containers.
I’ve also stooped – and I say stooped because I think this is the most disgusting way to trap flies- to hanging those fly strips around the house close to the doors. Those are quite effective. However, they look absolutely repulsive hanging there with dead flies stuck to them. I especially love it when an unsuspecting fly gets stuck and spends the next 10 minutes trying to extricate itself from the sticky stuff. You can hear the intense buzzing long enough to wonder if you shouldn’t put the fly out of its misery. Just FYI, the housefly hums in the middle octave key of F (could that be a coincidence?) I suppose this method is the most hazardous as well because, the fly strip – unless hanging very close to a wall – can easily become entangled in the unsuspecting, unobservant, innocently walking by, human being. That is a big Oh NO! Have you ever tried removing a fly strip from someone’s hair? It’s not a fun job, so if you use them, be careful where you hang them.
This method has some positive effects and is all natural. The smell of basil is repugnant to the fly for some reason. Fortunately, we love the smell of basil and grow it in abundance most of the year. If you clip basil and hang it upside down in your doorway or along the sides of your door, you will have some control. It is possible that basil essential oils will work as well. They are expensive, but might not look as curious! The flies will “stay away” from the door which means there will be fewer in your home. Will sprigs of basil hanging around your doors cause you to have questions from your friends, neighbors, and guests? Yes. If they also live on a farm or have lots of outdoor animals, they will not only understand, but will probably be purchasing basil within the week. If they are from the city, they may begin to wonder about you, so be prepared.
High Tech Method
I’ve saved this technique of fly elimination for last. It is a very unusual method, and one that I had to experiment with for a few years. Someone told me once that if you hang a bag of water with a penny in it over your door, it will repel the flies. It sounded like witchcraft for sure. Really? I was to that point though, where I was willing to try anything. I tried it and it did not really work well for me. Pursuing the idea a bit more, I began experimenting with bubble wrap. Somewhere I read that bubble wrap confuses the flies, because (it is believed) their compound eyes are troubled by all the bubbles. Perhaps they don’t like seeing a million of themselves. It was a similar idea to the water in the bag method. I experimented with both small bubble wrap and large bubble wrap. Suprisingly, the large bubble wrap worked well. Flies in the house were reduced to five or less instead of a daily average of 25 or more. Outdoor parties did not inundate us with flies as people came in and out of the doors. Our guests did have to get used to ducking under the bubble wrap, but it isn’t unsightly and didn’t stick to their hair.
If you visit the farm in August, September, or October, (yes fly season lasts till the snow falls) you will for sure see bubble wrap on the door, perhaps accompanied by basil, various conspicuous containers hanging around the perimeter of the property, and if you are sharing a meal with us, lacey tent covers over all of the entrée’s. For me the battle against the unseemly fly is worth all the effort. All these methods do help. Last but not least in my fly elimination program are my trusty fly swatters. I’m getting faster with every year.