Summer outdoor cooking and keeping flies away

Does anyone happen to have an advice on how to keep those unpleasant and intrusive beyond measure flies away? We have an outdoor cooking nook that we like to use in the evening during summer and the presence of flies bothers me enough to discourage me from using it even when it is very hot. I always take care to cover food throughout the cooking process, but they still bother me with being around. Thank you.

  • Posted by: Droplet
  • August 5, 2011


Marsha July 7, 2018
Place a dish of dinner mints in center of table. Absolutely no flies
R E. August 14, 2017
Any open drink container is a green light for stuff, put a lid/cover on every drink and that will cut down on bugs from finding you.

Use drink container protectors, get the ones that you can flip it over and also use on cans. Google drink container protector and they’ll pop up, a flip one is also made in the USA at Pittsburgh Pa, there neat.
R E. July 22, 2017
Do not cause a Bee problem with your drink
You will never get away without having bugs join your outing enjoyment, but you can keep them from sharing your drinks. Put a total cover on your drink containers, no holes, no straws, and no slurpee lid.
By doing this, things will have a harder time finding you and your drink, just Google drink container protector and you’ll find them, one of the better ones is made in the USA at Pittsburgh Pa.
Some are reusable and easy to take along and use everywhere. I even use it at work to keep my drink germ free.
Hana A. July 19, 2017
Hi all - thanks for keeping this thread alive and well! I'd love to see if you've come across any new, proven ways to ward off flies this summer. Or even confirmed favorite methods (ie: citronella)? Six years later and people are still trying to find the best way, so I'm all ears. Thanks in advance!
nutcakes July 16, 2017
If I don't keep the dog poop scooped we are in trouble in this hot weather.
BerryBaby July 15, 2017
I have no idea why, but I rarely see flies. Last year there was one that flew into the house, which I quickly released by opening the door. No mosquitoes either.
R E. July 14, 2017
Prevention should be the first step before you cause drawing no-see-ums, bees, flies, etc. to share you and your drinks.

Sure sprays and stuff work some what, however most bugs are attracted to open drink containers then to your body.

Odor and smells seems to be the attraction for bothersome bugs, so by having any drink container completely covered helps by not advertising it. Ever run from a Bee or Wasp?

A solid lid is a great way to reduce attracting things, no straws, no sippy lids. One that I found is made in the USA at Pittsburgh Pa works great, just Google drink container protector and you’ll find a bunch.

I even use one at work to keep other peoples germs from my coffee mug.
caninechef March 25, 2015
Probably a bit more than you bargain for but a few freerange hens would probably do the trick. I had very few insects arrounf of all types the summer I had hens.
Sam1148 December 25, 2014
Aparently...there's one bug here that needs to get shooed away.
Dana September 18, 2013
What is a good idea is instead of trying to repel the flies, attract them away from where you are eating. Say you were eating on your deck, get a bright light and move it around 50 yards away add some garlic cloves to the table and presto! Bug free meal!
sexyLAMBCHOPx August 6, 2011
Well my kitchen light fixtures attract and serve as a killing field for flies and other assorted flying pests. I can't stand it.
susan G. August 6, 2011
Not a problem! Asking, that is. The beasties are a problem and undermine your wonderful food experiences. And we all have something to learn here.
Droplet August 6, 2011
I would also like to apologize to everyone for the nature of the question. Soon after I posted it I realized that I probably made a mistake as far as appropriateness and due to the length of the discussion that followed it kept popping at the top of the question row, so I'm sorry guys if you were looking for dinner inspiration and had to pass by it.
Nan December 26, 2014
I think it's a great question to ask I love some of the answers and I will try them.

Droplet August 6, 2011
Sam, ideally I just wanted to find a way to keep them away. I would really rather not have them sticking to or into things. But thank you though. Those mesh covers are handy.
Sam1148 August 6, 2011
@droplet they sell these mesh "food umbrellas" to cover food on a picnic table to keep out flies.
They have various sizes..big one for almost the entire table. And little pop-up ones for a individual dishes.

Also look into scented 'bait traps' with a attractant and 'one way' funnel type entrances for the flies. But place those away from the eating area because to catch the flies--they have to attract them first.
Droplet August 6, 2011
Thanks for that info too, Susan. I didn't know, but will keep it in mind now. I assume only the essential oil acts as an abortifacient and the plant itself would be alright to grow ? I have heard of neem. I will see if I could use it in one of those plug in diffusers; and plug a fan nearby.
susan G. August 6, 2011
Caution on pennyroyal oil: it is an abortifaciant, particularly for cats. You do often see it in natural insect 'discouragents'. Good option is something neem based, such as one from Neem Aura. That's worked really well for me against ants in the house, lasting about 2 weeks, and food and people and pet safe. Garden centers are carrying neem products since it is good against lots of insect pests. Love the lemon/clove advice! (How about a spray with oil of clove, and lemonade on the side?)
Droplet August 6, 2011
I also read an advice by an elderly lady who says to cut a lemon in quarters, stick a clove in each piece and place the pieces around. Apparantly they hate the smell of cloves, as this was mentioned in several other places. Just thought I'd share it. And sorry to have brought up an unpleasant question.
Droplet August 6, 2011
Thanks everyone for your input. S of E, I too keep things covered with kitchen towels and have to peek sometimes to remember what was where. Thank you for the list of plants Susan. I remember having read somewhere about pennyroyal and I have also seen it being sold as an essential oil; might just make a spray with it. I am not near dairy cattle but there are neighbours in the proximity that keep chickens and dogs and cats too. It is the common house fly I was talking about.
SKK August 6, 2011
Embarassing to share and I must.
I learned this stuff about flies because we had an infestation in a house we moved into when my daughter was 3. (She is 23 now and survived.)

The first question to answer is what kind of flies are they? House flies love manure and garbage and rotting fruit and vegetables. Blow flies are those huge ugly ones tht like all of the above plus dead animals. And we had blow flies and from there discovered dead mice in the attic.

And fruit flies are those little annoying ones and they like fruit and vegetables and drains.

Until you figure out the kind of fly, and the environment that is feeding it, you won't be able to have peace.

Greenstuff August 6, 2011
Are you near dairy cattle? Most of the places that I've tried to eat and been plagued by flies have all been near dairy cattle. I'm unfortunately familiar with those flypaper strips that Sam1148 mentioned, and mostly I've used them indoors. They work. But my advice with them is to be careful where you place them--you don't want anything to drip into your serving dishes. (Sorry for that little vision.) The only general advice I've heard for outside is to keep everything as overly clean as possible and to keep a breeze going.
susan G. August 5, 2011
"The most effective anti-pest plants are: Citronella Grass, Catnip, Rosemary, Marigolds, Peppermint, Garlic, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Lavendar,
Artemisia, Basil, Pennyroyal, Rue, and Tansy."

Read more: How to Repel Flies and Mosquitoes Organically |

A quick search turned up this list, and other articles that look helpful. At the least, you'll have an attractive area. I think I'd go for the culinary herbs so that you could get double benefits!
Smaug July 7, 2018
Huh? Many flies (there are countless species) are passionately fond of basil. In fact, if you want to get rid of them, water your basil with fish emulsion and stand there with a swatter- You'll draw every fly within 2 blocks. I grow a lot of that other stuff, and have never seen it repel flies noticeably, though they do have preferences for what they land on.
susan G. August 5, 2011
For future summers, look into plantings that may discourage them.
Summer O. August 5, 2011
I don't think anything is foolproof, but we use a fan on the patio with some mosquito sticks, they look like incense, we light them and stick them in the ground all around the patio and add in some citronella candles. Sometimes we spray the yard with anti-mosquito spray. But if you are having a tasty dinner I doubt you can keep them away. It's a shame. I just cover everything with tea towels..
steven H. December 25, 2014
Shooaway - a battery operated tabletop device that KEEPS FLIES OFF YOUR FOOD AND DRINKS!!

It works. It has holographic dots that refract light and acare flies from coming near your food. It being sold in 5 different countries in the world but is now coming to the USA. See our website
Sam1148 August 5, 2011
I've heard many myths about this...such as hanging plastic bags filled with water...which is false. Some tiki torches with citronella might help, or some nice silvery 'windsock' like pinwheels or hanging spinning decorations could help or a box fan to make some rapid air movement. The best way is to do your entertaining after sunset.

While it's not most attractive solution..the tried and true fly-paper strips work well, they're cheap. Be careful when opening them tho, there's a over sized thumb tack like roofing nail in the top which you can you use to hammer them in a wood beam. Or you could get normal 'fly paper'---if you don't have cats. A feed supply store will have those and the hanging strips at home-depot.

Marsha July 7, 2018
Place dinner mints in center of table. Tried it for the forth. Worked like a charm.
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