Preventing Flies from Invading Your Compost Bin

Preventing flies from invading your compost bin.
  • 0-1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Boiling water
Leaves, twigs, cut grass
Water and mint essential oil mixture (25 drops oil, 1 gallon water)
Food-grade diatomaceous earth
Gloves and work clothes
Spray bottle
Lid for compost pile
Covered bucket

Composting is an environmentally friendly and cost effective way to reuse yard and garden scraps. Unfortunately, a hot compost pile can also quickly become breeding grounds for thousands of flies, especially if you are composting manure. Proper compost pile management will help keep fly populations under control.

TIP: Expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Plant basil around your compost pile to repel flies."

Put a Lid on It

Keeping a lid on your compost pile with deter flies. Be sure that you aerate your pile regularly.

Add Brown

Fruit flies are typically a sign that there is not enough brown material in the bin. Bins need to keep a consistent mix of 50 percent green material and 50 percent brown material. Add leaves, twigs, grass, and newspaper to the bin, keeping this layer on top to smother the flies and conceal food scraps.

Bury Food Scraps

Exposed food scraps will attract flies. Flies are attracted to vegetable and fruit peels, so these scraps need to be buried in the bin. Wrap the food with a couple layers of newspaper prior to placing in them in the bin. Cover with a layer of grass or newspaper that is lightly moistened. This will keep the flies from having easy access to the food.

Boil Peeling Scraps

Before taking out fruit or vegetable peelings, boil them. When the peeling is boiled, it kills any fly eggs and also takes away the agents that attract flies.

Contain Scraps

If fruit and vegetable scraps are gathered in a bucket before being emptied into the bin, cover the bucket. Flies can't get into an airtight container, so there won't be a group of flies and eggs going into the compost bin with the scraps. It is also a good idea to empty the scraps daily.

Use Diatomaceous Earth

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a natural sedimentary rock that crumbles easily. Add this non-toxic element to compost piles following package directions to reduce and eliminate fly problems.

Scald Flies

If your bin is worm-free or relatively new and you can’t get control of the flies with the other suggestions, try scalding them. Boil water and take it outside to the bin. Pour it over the contents and shut the lid so the steam will continue to kill the flies. The hot water not only kills active flies, it will also kill fly eggs. Boil more water and pour it over the lid and sides of the bin to kill any eggs on the outside of the bin. Once the steam has diminished, smother the pile with newspaper and grass.

TIP: Susan suggests, "Spray compost pile and surrounding area with a mixture of water and mint essential oil. Add 25 drops of oil to a gallon of water and put it in a spray bottle."

Don't forgo your composting! These tips are sure to keep your yard free of pesky flies.