There are many interesting facts about hoverflies. For instance, did you know that hoverflies are the second-largest pollinators in the world? They stand right next to bees on the leaderboard. However, one of the least exciting things about hoverflies is that they can be annoying.
Unlike wasps or some types of bees, these insects are not parasitic. Instead, they positively impact the plants’ growth in your garden — through the good old deed of pollination. However, having too many hoverflies that hover in your garden can be a problem. And that is a problem that you have to fix if you want to keep a healthy balance in your garden.
Here is the thing, though. You cannot get rid of hoverflies in the same way you get rid of other pests. It is the reason why we decided to create this guide on getting rid of hoverflies. We wanted to educate people about the important role that hoverflies play in the ecosystem.
On second thought, you do not even have to get rid of hoverflies completely. You want them to step down from their aggressive approach. If you wish to do so, you need a clear understanding of hoverflies in the first place. Only then can we determine the perfect way to keep hover flies away from your garden.
Before we suggest the most effective ways to get rid of hoverflies, we want to answer some of the common questions you may have about them. This will explain why you should take a balanced and strategic approach while dealing with hoverflies.
What Are Hoverflies?
Hoverfly is the common name of a garden insect that goes by the biological name of Allograpta obliqua. Even though hoverflies look closely similar to bees, wasps, fruit flies, houseflies, and yellowjackets, they happen to have a few unique traits.
Other names of hoverflies are syrphid fly and flower fly. These flies get the name flower fly because they are found near flower plants. During the spring and summer seasons, houseflies can be seen hovering over flowers. We have to keep in mind that there are so many hoverflies globally, with the number of species crossing 6,000 on the West Coast itself.
Hoverflies get the bad reputation they have because of this high number. As it happens, though, hoverflies can be beneficial to gardeners. Hoverflies happen to be some of the most effective natural pest control you can get today.
Growing and adult hoverflies tend to consume a variety of bugs and pests that can be pretty problematic in the garden. In particular, these insects are good at getting rid of aphids and leafhoppers. Having a good number of hoverflies in the garden can be a positive thing. More often than not, though, keeping a healthy number of hoverflies can be a tricky thing.
It brings us to our next question.
Are Hoverflies Bad?
Technically speaking, hoverflies are not bad. However, an increasing number of hoverflies in your garden is a tricky affair, indeed. We will explain why.
Under normal circumstances, hoverflies are a boon to your garden. They are one of the most effective agents of pollination after honeybees. Many plants from your garden will fail to bloom and reproduce without hoverflies in the equation. Hoverflies work as an effective pest control system as well. Because they feed on aphids and leafhoppers, you do not have to try inorganic pest control methods if you have a good population of hoverflies in the garden. By all means, hoverflies can be called gardeners’ friends. But these are normal circumstances we are talking about.
There are times when the number of hoverflies can become so high. At this point, they become more of an annoyance than a friend. You do not want a massive group of flies to welcome you when you enter the garden. So, many gardeners tend to ignore the positive things that hoverflies do and get rid of them. So, it is okay if you feel the same.
But you do not have to kill hoverflies. Instead, we need an effective way to repel these flies and keep them away from our plants. Are you wondering whether hover flies can cause other problems?
Do Hoverflies Sting or Bite?
Hoverflies do not sting or bite. The only thing hoverflies harm are pests in your garden. Even if they wanted to attack, hoverflies could not do that. It is because hoverflies have a feeding mechanism that is heavily optimized for pollination. Therefore, even though they look eerily similar to wasps and honeybees, you do not have to worry about getting bitten or stung. Too many hoverflies in the garden can be an annoying thing. You would not want to stand in the middle of a group of flies hovering on top of you, right?
Why Do Hoverflies Hover Near My Garden?
We believe you can guess the answer to this question now.
Hoverflies hover near your garden because your garden has something that attracts these flies. It could be a flower with a lot of pollen. Hoverflies can detect the presence of pollen-filled plants from a vast distance. They would not take more than a second to reach the plants and collect the nectar. It is the most optimistic possibility, though.
On the other side of things, hoverflies hovering near your garden also means there are pest-infected plants in the garden. As we said earlier, pests like aphids and leafhoppers are typical food of hoverflies. The entire life structure of hoverflies is designed based on the availability of resources. Adult hoverflies lay an egg, which then becomes a cocoon. Baby hoverflies come out from these cocoons and start feeding on pests and nectar.
So, if you see a group of hoverflies hovering over your garden, you can expect the numbers to increase soon. But, on the positive side, there will be a decline of diseased plants in the garden.
What Are Hoverflies Attracted To?
It is a good idea to check what hoverflies are attracted to before you follow measures to repel or remove them. In most cases, the following things are responsible for the presence of hoverflies.
- Hoverflies are attracted to garden plantings that have a good harvest. If your garden has plants that spread a lot of fragrance, hoverflies will be on their way. In general, though, if your garden is filled with flowers, you can expect a crowd of hoverflies.
- Like a good plant, plants in non-ideal conditions can also attract hoverflies. As we said, aphids are a typical food for these insects. So, if your garden has a plant that suffers from aphid infection, you can expect to meet a lot of hoverflies.
Sometimes, human sweat is the reason why hoverflies are in your garden. However, we should also keep in mind that the preferences vary based on the species. While some species of hoverflies can be so attracted to pollen or nectar, other species may not behave in the same way.
What Kills Hoverflies?
Both organic and inorganic elements can kill the hoverfly population in your garden. While you can use some of them on your own, others are region-dependent.
For instance, some species of wasp are known for killing hoverflies. The wasp is called ectemnius cavifrons and can be a natural way to get rid of hoverflies. The second option can be one of the many biological and chemical pesticides you can find on the market. Or you can come up with a homemade agent that kills hoverflies.
Here is the thing, though. As we said earlier, hoverflies are an important part of the biological ecosystem in your garden. Killing the entire hoverfly population is not a good idea in that you may end up disrupting the natural balance. So instead, you can follow an effective method to repel them from your garden and keep the place hoverfly-free.
We will talk more about it in a bit.
Do birds eat hoverflies?
Typically, birds do not eat hoverflies due to a single reason.
Most hoverfly species are good at mimicking the actions of wasps and bees. The antenna movement would make it feel that they are wasps with the ability to sting. Most birds do not want to take this risk, and they leave hoverflies alone.
However, it does not mean that hoverflies have no enemy. Some birds risk eating hoverflies. Because it is not easy for most birds to distinguish between hoverflies and wasps, this is a less likely scenario.
Hoverflies are safe from birds. On the other hand, some wasps like ectemnius cavifrons can be an enemy to hoverflies in the garden. We use the same logic to eliminate hoverflies by introducing the said type of wasp to the battlefield!
How Long Do Hoverflies Live For?
Compared to other insects, hoverflies do not have a long lifespan.
The average lifespan of these insects is around 12 days. However, there are always many cases of exceptions. In some instances, hoverflies were found to live for a whopping 55 days. We must add that hoverflies have a quick cycle of procreation.
Therefore, you cannot expect the entire population to die out in an instant. By the time the adults die, new cocoons would have burst to let the new ones out. So, if you want to get rid of hoverflies, you need a few strategic methods.
How to Get Rid of Hoverflies?
Here are some of the most effective ways to eliminate hoverflies from your garden.
Use A Hoverfly Repellent
The easiest way to get rid of hoverflies is to create a homemade hoverfly repellent. It is also the most eco-friendly option since you do not have to bring toxic chemicals into your garden. We do not recommend the use of pesticides unless extremely necessary. In case you are wondering about the potential repellents, there are many. For instance, you can combine lemon and clove to create a mixture that keeps hoverflies away.
Set Up a Fly Trap
A fly trap is a strategic tool to reduce the number of hoverflies and other insects. Unlike the repellent, this method may lead to the death of insects, which can be a problem. You can set up a fly trap with the help of some sugary water and glue. You have to arrange the sugary water so that the flies get stuck on the glue.
Planting More Plants
We already mentioned that hoverflies are attracted to nectar and pollen. By planting a nectar-rich plant in another part of your garden, you can easily distract hoverflies. They will move to the new plant, leaving the main garden alone. You have to make sure that the newly planted flowers have more pollen than the ones you have in the garden.
Did you know that essential oils can be used to get rid of hoverflies? Well, the intense smell from essential oils can be a good repellent in many cases. But, of course, it does not harm the hoverflies. Instead, the group will move to the next best location when they can. In any case, they will not use your garden for producing the next set of flies, which is a solace.
Use A Fan
It may sound too simple but using a fan to blow the hoverflies away is a good method. Hoverflies do settle down when they find a place to be peaceful. The quick airflow from a fan can change that perception in a minute. You can use this method if you are looking for a temporary solution. With the dawn of the new season, these flies may reappear.
You can always turn to predatory wasps and chemicals, but we do not recommend any step to tumble the ecological balance.
The Bottom Line
We believe we have answered all your queries about getting rid of hoverflies. Instead of throwing some steps at you, we have tried to explore the bigger picture. We hope you will be able to handle hoverflies better with this knowledge.