It’s normal to find insects in your shrubs. For example, you can find butterflies and ladybugs, which are always nice to see. Others, like flies, may not be as welcome.
Your shrubs may attract flies because of damp soil, plant debris, or decaying organic material. Depending on what kinds of flies they are, there are a few ways to get rid of them, such as spraying the shrubs with neem oil.
In this article, I’ll discuss the common reasons shrubs may be attracting flies. I’ll also discuss some ways you can solve this problem.
1. Nearby Garbage
There are several different reasons that your shrubs may be attracting flies. For example, most house flies are attracted to decomposing organic matter like dead animals, because those are prime places for laying eggs.
Garbage heaps and trash cans are also attractive breeding grounds for flies.
How To Fix
The first thing to do is to move the garbage away from your plants. If you have to leave your garbage out and about, make sure they’re in bags that are sealed nice and tight. The basic rule here is to keep the surroundings as clean as possible.
There are also various ways to keep flies away from your garbage. For example, you can mix soap and apple cider vinegar in a bowl, and put it in a place where the flies are likely to go. This solution is known to draw in and drown flies.
2. Damp Soil
Many types of flies rely on moist soil to breed. They also tend to be drawn to areas with standing water. So, if you notice places in your garden where water is accumulating or taking too long to dry up, you should do something about them ASAP.
How To Fix
Check the soil to see how damp it is, and be careful when you water your plants. The right amount of water for a specific shrub species depends on the soil or the climate.
Fortunately, there’s a way to measure soil moisture with a reasonable degree of accuracy.
For example, you can insert a long screwdriver or garden trowel into the soil near the roots of the shrubs. If the tool doesn’t go in by about 3-4 inches (7.6 to 10.1 cm), you probably need to water the area (source).
Additionally, you’ll need to keep an eye on the shrubs and check the soil and leaves regularly to determine if they’re getting too much or too little water.
3. Animal Feces
Flies may also be attracted to your shrubs because an animal is using the area to relieve itself.
While most dogs won’t usually use shrubs, and cats often bury their waste in your garden, this can happen often enough that you should consider it as a possibility — especially if your area tends to attract wild animals.
How To Fix
Depending on who’s “doing their business” in your yard, you have two choices: Clean up after the animals, or keep them out. For example, if your pets tend to relieve themselves in the yard, you’ll need to check the soil regularly for feces.
If your area is a haven for stray or wild animals, consider installing a fence.
Alternatively, you can plant flowers that have natural fly-repelling abilities. For instance, marigolds are known to repel flies, and lavender keeps away insects including moths, mosquitoes, and flies.
The beauty of this method is that you can keep nasty pests out without the use of synthetic pesticides that can harm the environment.
4. Plant Debris
Dead leaves and other debris that fall off your shrubs can attract many species of flies, such as fruit flies and fungus gnats.
In case you haven’t heard of the latter, fungus gnats look like mosquitoes up close and leave behind a slime trail that looks like traces of slugs or snails (source).
How To Fix
The simplest solution is to remove the plant waste that accumulates in your garden regularly. However, the simple removal of plant debris may not entirely solve the problem.
Like most problems, you have to get to the root of the issue to make sure flies will stay away from your garden for good.
For example, if there’s already a severe fly infestation in your garden, you need to take measures to kill them, such as:
- Placing sticky fly traps in the infested areas
- Introducing the flies’ natural predators into the environment
Of course, for the second option to work, you need to identify the species of fly infesting your garden. If you have a fungus gnat infestation, for instance, you can turn your garden into a prime breeding ground for beneficial nematodes.
5. Decaying Organic Matter
Another possibility is that there’s a dead animal within the shrub. It could be the carcass of a rodent or bird left by a cat.
Whatever the case, the rotting organic matter is extremely attractive to flies, and its scent will draw them to it.
How To Fix
The first thing you’ll need to do is to remove the decaying matter. If there are still a large number of flies in your shrub after this, there are a few different ways you could try to kill them.
I’ve already talked about sticky fly traps and beneficial nematodes earlier in the article.
Although it’s usually not safe to use pesticides on your plants, neem oil is safe for organic gardening. Various products use it, such as Natria 706250A Neem Oil Spray for Plants (link to Amazon).
This product doesn’t just kill flies: It can kill fungi that can wreak havoc on your shrubs
To use neem oil, mix the oil, water, and dish soap, and put the mixture in a spray bottle for ease of use.
However, when using neem oil, you need to keep three things in mind:
- Neem oil can be dangerous if used incorrectly, so follow the instructions carefully.
- Neem oil kills on contact, meaning you have to spray the insects directly. This also means it won’t kill the eggs.
- Neem oil doesn’t differentiate between pests and beneficial insects. It’s also toxic to fish and other aquatic creatures. In other words, you’ll have to be careful about where you spray it.
Flies can be awful to deal with. Depending on the type of fly, there are many reasons you could find your shrubs infested with them. The first thing to do is always to address the root of the problem — be it overwatering or a dead animal.
However, while removing the cause may keep things from worsening, that may not always be enough to deal with the pests already there. Fortunately, there are options for taking care of that, too.