The sparkling waters of a swimming pool attract more than humans; they also attract an assortment of biting and stinging pests. Keep flies away from the pool with a multipronged attack that includes fly traps and bug zappers. Beyond the annoying habit flies have of walking across your bare skin and their ability to spread pathogens, some fly species don't hesitate to take a bite out of any warm-blooded body in the vicinity. While it's nearly impossible to completely eliminate flies and other biting and stinging insects, you can knock back the pesky population to make your backyard activities a more pleasant experience.
Fly and Insect Prevention
Prevent flies from gathering and breeding around your house by thoroughly cleaning trash cans and keeping them covered at all times. You can also apply fly spray to the inside of garbage cans to kill any flies that sneak in under the cover and the resulting maggot infestation. Read the directions carefully and keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
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Cover food on patio and picnic tables with mesh food covers to keep flies off your tasty treats. Wipe tables with a solution of 2/3 cup of household ammonia mixed with 1 gallon of water when preparing for outdoor gatherings and cleaning up spills. This also helps discourage yellowjackets and other stinging insects.
Electronic Bug Zappers
Flies tend to gather near the water, swimmers, and picnic tables. Electronic bug zappers work both day and night, using light, nonchemical, and chemical lures to attract flies, moths, and other bugs. Because the fried bugs tend to drop to the ground under a bug zapper, hang the device near an outdoor ground-fault circuit-interrupter outlet 6 to 7 feet above the ground and at least 10 to 15 feet away from tables, porches, and the pool. Ideally, position the bug zapper under the eaves where it is protected from rain and the dead flies fall into a bush or the flowerbeds.
Disposable and Reusable Fly Traps
There are a variety of disposable fly traps available online and in local stores. In general, the trap features a cap that opens into a water-filled bag. The bag contains an attractant that lures the flies into the bag, where they drown. Just cut the plastic on the dotted line, pull up the cap, add a string or cable tie (not included), and fill the trap with water.
Hang these nontoxic but strong-smelling traps 20 feet from the house or pool. You may have to top off the water in the trap every few days in hot weather. When the trap is full, put it in the trash and hang up new traps.
Reusable fly traps work in a similar manner, attracting flies into the trap to die. Once the trap is full, dump the contents into the trash, wash it, and add fresh attractant and water. Rehang it 20 feet from the house along the fence, near trash cans and/or dog runs, and around other areas where flies tend to gather. These traps are not intended for indoor use because they have a strong odor that attracts flies.
Horse Fly Traps
Horse fly traps work a bit differently. The traps feature an inflatable black ball on the bottom of the trap, which warms in the sun to attract the female horse flies. The female lands on the warm ball to feed and when no blood is available, flies up into the funnel that directs it into the trap. For best results, set up horse fly traps in spring in sunny locations near damp areas or between the source (wet soil or horses and cattle) and your swimming pool and garden.
While there are horse fly repellents available in spray and wipe-on formulations, they are primarily intended for use on horses, ponies, cows, dogs, and their environment. Read the instructions before applying and do not use it on puppies, cats, or humans.
DIY Fly Traps
The simplest do-it-yourself fly trap uses a 2-liter plastic bottle and a homemade attractant. Remove the cap and cut off the top third of the bottle; this becomes the funnel entrance. Fill the bottom section with a homemade fly bait, such as 1 cup of water; 1 to 2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid; and a few pieces of overripe fruit, 2 tablespoons of canned cat food, or raw meat scraps.
Turn the top section upside down and tuck it into the top of the bottom section. Set it in the sun or dappled shade or punch holes in the sides to hang it from a fence or trees approximately 20 feet from the swimming pool and house. Add more water as needed to keep attracting and drowning flies and other stinging insects.