How to Get Rid of Hover Flies: Uses, Control & Prevention

If you have spotted a swarm of black and yellow striped flies across your garden, and when you get closer, they won’t even sting or bite, you are dealing with the hoverflies. Don’t confuse them with bees or wasps. While they’re good pollinators, they can be a nuisance hence the need to get rid of them.

To get rid of hoverflies, use a non-toxic hover fly repellent, use essential oils, keep a pest-free garden, use a bug zapper, get rid of bright flowers, use a fan to blow them away, use a hover fly trap, and use an insecticide. Hoverflies don’t sting but are a nuisance, especially in large numbers.

Even when you want to get rid of hover flies on your patio, hoverflies do more good than bad in your garden. They pollinate and get rid of aphids.

Hoverfly on Flower

What are hoverflies?

Physically, hoverflies are long, thin flies with a single pair of wings. They feature a prominent black color and yellow stripes on the thorax and around the eyes. At a glance, you can easily confuse them with honeybees, wasps, or yellow jackets. There are at least 600 hoverfly species across 200 genera.

One distinguishing feature is that the hoverfly has its one pair of wings set at an angle to the body even when they rest. They’re among the most common insects with yellow stripes.

In some quotas, they are referred to as the flower fly or the syrphid fly. They feed on nectar and pollen, which explains why they invade your flower garden or the cornfield: their larvae feast on aphids and other pests on the plants.

As their larvae feed on the pests, they come in handy in helping you identify a sick or rotten plant playing host to the pests. 

Notably, the larvae spend close to 10 days on the plants before the housefly can emerge from the cocoon. During winter, the process takes longer.

Most hoverflies have a lifespan of twelve days; only a handful of these species live beyond 50 days.

Do hoverflies bite?

No, hoverflies don’t sting or bite. So, if you notice them hovering around you, relax. They are only after your sweat. These flies will lick that salty sweat on your skin and enjoy the thrill.

How to get rid of hoverflies

Since they are great pollinators and their larvae feed on aphids and other pests in the garden, they remain a key player in the ecosystem. For these reasons, lethal methods should be avoided in getting rid of the hoverflies. Instead, use repellant approaches to address the menace.

Some of the common methods you can use include:

1. Fly-Repellents

There are many approaches to coming up with a natural fly repellent that will work perfectly on hoverflies. They include:

  • Vinegar Solution. In a spray bottle, add water, soap, and vinegar. Measure four parts of water, a part of vinegar, and soap. Shake the solution, then spray it on your garden. The acidity in the vinegar will have the hoverflies migrating from your garden in hordes. This method is safe for your plants, children, and pets.
  • Lemon Juice. Cut your lemons into halves then squeeze the juice out of them. Then, in a spray bottle, identify where the hoverflies are living and spray them out. Or, you can cut the lemons and stick pieces of cloves on them, then place them within the proximity of where the hoverflies live. 
  • Citronella candles. The smoke from these candles will send the hoverflies on their way.
  • Dishwashing oil concoction. The concoction is a vinegar mixture, dishwashing oil, rosemary, and basil oil. Mix and shake it up, then spray on the affected area. The method has instantaneous results.

These are do-it-yourself fly repellents that you can easily formulate in your home and will work out perfectly in getting rid of the hoverflies. 

2. Fan

Identify the area most infested with the flies and set up the fan close by. The hoverflies dislike the continuously windy environment. However, you have to be consistent and leave the fan on even during the daytime. 

The fan will keep the flies devastated, leaving them with no option but to leave. It’s a great method as it doesn’t harm the garden or your pets.

3. Set Traps 

The hoverflies are a nuisance once they infest your garden, and they can cause mayhem. One option you have to net them is to set traps.

There are several types of traps that include:

  • Fly tapes. These are tapes you hang over your garden to draw the flies to them. First, run them from one edge of the garden to the other. Then, stick corns to the tapes so they can draw the flies. 
  • Zapper. Use an electric zapper to trap and kill the hoverflies. Ensure you place it strategically on areas highly infested by the flies.
  • Trap plants. Introduce plants such as the sundew in your garden that attract and kill the hoverflies. 

Ensure the traps you choose don’t harm the environment in any way. 

4. Remove Bright Flowers

If you are keen on the infested area, you will notice the hoverflies are attracted to the brightly-colored flowers that are fragrant. Consider eliminating the flowers from your garden to discourage the flies.

You could replace the flowers with plants that will naturally repel the hoverflies, such as mint or bay leaves. Mint also repels ants and is one of the best natural insect repellents.

5. Nectar-Filled Plants

Identify an area away from your garden or patio that you wouldn’t mind if the flies settled on. The nectar-filled plants will act as a distraction and keep the flies away.

It’s a win-win situation if you choose to go down this route, as the flies will have their fill, pollinate and feed on the pests while leaving your garden alone.

6. Avoid Overwatering

Stagnant water and soggy soil are fertile breeding grounds for most insects, including hoverflies and mosquitoes. They lay eggs here and consume the water. Work to have a dry garden, and you will be a step ahead in preventing their breeding. 

7. Insecticides

When you choose this as the route to getting rid of the hoverflies, go for good brands that are environmentally friendly. Also, check out spray insecticides that won’t harm your pets, children, or plants.

While cats eat insects, they’re not effective in keeping hoverflies in check. Cats will only eat flies on a few occasions.

Hoverfly importance

The fly plays several critical roles in the ecosystem. They include:

1. Pollinators

Hoverflies are excellent pollinators. As they hover, looking for nectar from one plant to the next, they carry pollen, which is critical for pollination.

Pollination is a critical step in the life of plants as it boosts the shelf life of the plants and improves the quality of the crops.

2. Predators

The larvae stage of the hoverflies feeds on pests such as aphids which could harm the plants if left to thrive.

It’s interesting how the larvae spot the aphids, given that at this stage, they don’t have eyes, but they do a good job clearing the aphids. In fact, the hoverfly can handle up to 70% of the pests in your garden.

Eating up the pests boosts your crop production by reducing the rate of withering and rotting.


A hoverfly is a calm insect that doesn’t sting or bite. All it does is look for and feed on nectar and pollen. If your flower garden or corn is coming up well, arm yourself early enough to handle the flies. You could plant the plant repellents in good time to keep them at bay.

As the plants start coming up, remove any stagnant water on your farm. Then, you will have cleared their breeding zones and solved the problem by half. 

Avoid the lethal methods if the flies are not many. Just distract them so they can leave your garden or use vinegar, citrus fruit peels, or lemon with cloves to get rid of them. That way, the children, pets, and plants remain safe. 


University of Illinois. 3 things you never knew about hover flies.

Washington State University. Syrphid Flies (hover flies, flower flies).

University of Wisconsin. Hover, Flower or Syrphid Flies (Syrphidae).

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