You’ve worked hard all morning to prepare for your big backyard cookout. You’ve stocked up on color-coordinated paper plates and napkins and all the utensils your guests could possibly need. The brightly-hued fruit salad is made, and the creamy macaroni salad is chilling in the fridge. The beers and sodas are on ice in their respective coolers, and you’ve just finished pressing out two dozen perfect hamburger patties. The guests are starting to arrive, and it’s time to fire up the grill and start with the festivities. As your guests enjoy their drinks and sit down to eat their delicious picnic fare, they are suddenly bombarded by flies. Annoying, buzzing, obnoxious flies dive bombing their salads and crawling on their hamburger buns. Everyone is soon swatting and slapping at the creatures, knocking over drinks and spilling their plates onto the patio where your dogs are patiently waiting underfoot for their unexpected feast.
Photo credit: Laura Ritchie
Flies can ruin even the most well planned out picnic. And it seems that there is nothing you can do to keep them at bay. You have to choose to either stay indoors all season to remain fly free or harden your resolve to deal with their constant presence outside. If you choose to fight the good fight, we have some tips for you to beat these bugs at their own game.
The best way to keep flies and flying insects at bay is with wind. Specifically, fans. Ever notice how the annoyance of bugs seems to fade away on a breezy day? That’s because winged insects can’t fight the breeze and find somewhere else to go. If your patio has a ceiling fan, make sure it is running at a low to moderate speed while you are enjoying your outdoor time. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, bring out an oscillating fan or a box fan and set it up near the food and you guests. A constant low to moderate breeze will keep your food and guests fly-free as well as providing a welcome reprieve from the heat of summer.
A complementary method to the breeze approach is the soap and water jar. Place an inch of fruit-scented dish soap in a jar and add an inch of water over it. Place the jars away from your guests and their food, and this should keep the flies occupied while you enjoy your picnic.
Flies are also repelled by the scent of lavender, so burning a few lavender candles or using a potted lavender plant as a centerpiece may help decrease the fly annoyance.
You can also build a DIY fly trap to keep the flies busy while you entertain your guests. There are many DIY options to be found on the internet, but here are a couple of our favorites.