Looking for a way to keep hover flies (sweat bees) away from you and your drinks, food and outdoor activities this fall?
When it comes to being one of the most annoying insects of the autumn season, hover flies, or sweat bees as they are more commonly known, are certainly high on the list! The tiny flying insects seem to invade any and all outdoor activities in late summer and early fall. Especially ones that happen to include food, beverages and humans!
Although they are often referred to as sweat bees, the “bee” portion of their name is a bit misleading. One thing hoverflies cannot do is what most bees can – and that is sting. But even without a stinger, this little bee can still be quite annoying when you are trying to enjoy the great outdoors.
As much as the word “bee” doesn’t quite fit their nickname, it’s ironic that the first word “sweat” does. That’s because hover flies are most attracted to salt. And as it just so happens, the sweat of humans has more than its far share of sodium. So much so that hover flies love to linger close by for a taste.
Why Hover Flies Are Important
Before you go reaching for that can of bee spray or the nearest insecticide, it’s important to realize that not only are these flying insects harmless to humans – they also happen to be incredibly important as a pollinator.
Hover flies are one of the few bee species that will work and pollinate every flower they come upon. Many other pollinators such as honeybees and butterflies will only work a specific set of plants. And without the hover flies efforts, many wild flowers might not be able to survive.
Because of that, keeping them around (but far away of course) can actually be incredibly helpful to the plants around your landscape. With that in mind, today’s article is all about how to co-exist with hover flies – allowing them to survive – but without having them ruin your time outdoors in late summer and fall!
How To Keep Hover Flies Away
So how do you learn to co-exist with hover flies? The best path to success is to put a few simple measures in place that keeps them far away from where you are – but lets them live and pollinate everywhere else. The good news is that doing so is easier than you might think!
The Power Of Mint With Hover Flies
When it comes to repelling hover flies and keeping them out of your personal space, mint is at the top of the list. They simply cannot stand the scent of mint. And where it is, they will not set up shop.
For patios, decks and outdoor dining spaces, grow mint in pots and place on tables and around sitting areas. It sounds so easy and it is – a few pots of mint on an outdoor dining table will keep sweat bees from swarming the table.
Mint is actually easy to grow in pots and is both drought and pest resistant. And if you need a little extra protection outdoors from sweat bees, you can just crush a few leaves and rub on your arms, legs and exposed skin. Not only will you smell minty fresh – you will keep hover flies from hovering in front of you!
Last but not least, mint sprays and essential oils will work to repel sweat bees as well. By putting a few mint oil drops in a diffuser and turning it on wherever you are outdoors, it can aid greatly in keeping hover flies away. Product Affiliate Link : Pure Mint Oil
One final note on mint – it also has the same repelling qualities against mosquitoes. It’s certainly a great way to keep two of summers most annoying pests away at once!
The Power Of Fans – How To Keep Hover Flies Away
Want to stay cool and keep hover flies away at the same time? Then a perfectly placed outdoor fan is the answer.
Hover flies are extremely lightweight and cannot handle strong breezes or flowing air. Because of that, a fan placed near an outdoor entertaining space is the perfect way to keep hover flies from being able to fly near you.
Ceiling fans are also a great weapon against hover flies as well. The downward push of air is simply too much for their tiny wings to navigate. A ceiling fan can be a great investment for an outdoor dining area on a covered porch – not only will it help to keep sweat bees away, but it works magic against mosquitoes too!
One More Reason To Mulch Your Flowerbeds – How To Keep Hover Flies Away
We already know that mulching your flowerbeds can help eliminate weeds, keep moisture in the soil for your plants and help to regulate soil temperatures (See: How To Keep Weeds Out Of Flowerbeds Forever) – but did you know that mulch is also a great weapon against hover flies too?
Unlike other bee species which often live in colonies or trees, hover flies live in a single family unit in the ground. But again, because they are not the strongest of bees, they look for easy, bare ground to make their nests. And when the soil is covered in mulch – they move on.
To stop weeds in flowerbeds, a four inch thick coating of mulch is essential. But that same mulch is more than enough to keep hover flies from nesting in the flowerbeds right near your outdoor spaces too.
Another key area of bare soil to cover that is often missed is the pots and planters that sit on your patio. Again, a coating of mulch on top of the soil will help keep hover flies from nesting right where you enjoy your outside time.
Last but not least, this same “bare soil” concept applies to lawns as well. By mowing your lawn at a higher setting, you help protect the soil from being bare. And in turn, that makes it harder for hover flies to nest in the lawn.
Keeping your lawn mowed at a minimum of three to four inches is ideal. Not only will it protect you from nesting hover flies, it will also keep your lawn greener, healthier and more vibrant!
Here is to keeping hover flies away. All, of course, while allowing them to still pollinate freely far away from where you enjoy the outdoors! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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