While some hydrangea varieties attract bees, you might’ve noticed that yours also attracts many flies. These can be a nuisance, especially if you’re sitting in the garden trying to enjoy a warm summer day. So, why are flies hovering around your hydrangea bushes?
Flies could be swarming your hydrangeas because these flowering plants release an appealing scent that flies like. You shouldn’t ignore this, especially if you’re dealing with a fly infestation, because the flies can damage the hydrangea flowers and leaves.
In this article, I’ll explore what you need to know about the two main reasons why flies attack hydrangeas and how you can eliminate these flying pests with some easy methods – without harming your beautiful hydrangeas.
The main reason flies can be found flying around your hydrangeas is that they can smell their nectar.
When hydrangeas have started their blooming cycle, you’re likely to find swarms of flies around them because the flowers are producing sweet nectar. Even though you might assume that bees will be more drawn to the nectar than other flying insects, nectar is appealing to a variety of insects.
Other reasons why hydrangeas attract flies include the following
- The hydrangea flowers themselves have a pleasant scent. Hydrangeas don’t need to have a strong scent in order to attract insects. Even those that only release a subtle floral scent can attract flies.
- The hydrangea plant is displaying dying flowers. Some insects, such as house flies, will seek organic material to consume. If there are dying or spent blooms on the hydrangea, these will be appealing to flies. Over time, this will cause the flowers to die, since the nutrients meant for the flowers are instead being consumed by the flies.
If you regularly see flies around your hydrangeas, you’ll want to know how to eliminate them without harming your flowers. While you can use insecticides to keep flies at bay, these can damage your plants, so they’re not recommended.
Instead, try some of these effective natural methods:
Mint is a popular herb that’s known for its strong scent, which repels insects such as flies. To make use of it, you can either plant mint near your hydrangeas or hang some leaves next to them.
Here’s how to make use of the mint leaves.
- Crush a few mint leaves so that you have about one teaspoon of leaves.
- Put these crushed leaves in a small pouch. Ideally, the pouch should be made of gauze to better release the smell of the mint.
- Hang the pouch next to your hydrangea bush.
Neem oil is a popular natural ingredient that eliminates pests from the garden. To use it, simply fill a spray bottle with it and mist your hydrangeas. It kills flies when they ingest the oil, but be careful as it will also kill other insects that you might not want to eliminate, such as ladybugs that eat whiteflies.
If you don’t have neem oil, you can purchase a solution that contains this organic pesticide. I’d recommend Bonide Captain Jack’s Neem Oil Ready-To-Use 3 in 1 Insecticide, Fungicide, and Miticide, available on Amazon.
It kills adult insects as well as their eggs and larvae. It’s also quite versatile as you can use it to prevent fungal diseases in plant tissues.
Putting sticky traps around your plants can help you eliminate flies and other insects without having to apply any kind of solution to the hydrangeas.
I’d recommend Stingmon Sticky Traps, which is available from Amazon. These are traps for flies and other flying insects, and you can use them on your indoor and outdoor plants. They come with a paper ‘stake’ attached so that you can place them in the ground next to your hydrangeas.
If you’ve ever heard that you can dislodge aphids from leaves by directing a powerful stream of water onto them, you can also do this to remove whiteflies effectively. These bugs tend to hide underneath the plant leaves. They look like small moths but can quickly infest your plants.
Whiteflies can be damaging to plants because they suck sap from them, and this destroys the plants’ leaves. While these are widespread throughout the U.S., they’re particularly common in the South, such as in Alabama and Maryland.
A solution of dish soap and water that gets sprayed onto the hydrangea plants can also work well to remove flies, especially if you don’t have neem oil.
Soap works well to kill insects because it washes off their body’s protective coating, which dries them out. Small and soft-bodied insects are easier to kill with this solution, so it’s effective on flies.
The important thing to remember when using soapy water to remove flies is to spray them while they’re on the plant. However, be careful of using too much soap as it can scorch the plant leaves, especially if the temperature is hot or the plant is stressed.
Some plants attract more pollinators and other insects, such as flies, than others. It’s useful to plant these close to your hydrangeas so that they will draw these pests away from the hydrangeas. Since the flies are attracted to honey, they will be found in areas where bees are busy pollinating flowers.
Plants that attract bees, and therefore fly, include:
- Blue lily
Epsom salt, which is made from hydrated magnesium sulfate, is an easy way to repel flies from your hydrangeas over time. All you have to do is sprinkle it around your plants. It also helps to keep other pests at bay.
In addition to its pest-repellent properties, Epsom salt has other benefits for hydrangeas:
- It adds more magnesium to the soil. This encourages your hydrangeas to draw more nutrients from the soil so that they can grow stronger stems.
- It produces greener leaves. Since it contains magnesium, Epsom salt helps to produce chlorophyll in the plant, which is responsible for its green leaves.
Garlic contains a sulfur compound that a variety of insects, such as flies, mosquitoes, and other flying insects, find unpleasant. The great thing about using garlic on your plants is that it won’t harm them.
You can safely use garlic as a pesticide because it quickly degrades in the environment and it’s non-toxic.
Here’s how to make your own DIY garlic spray.
- Peel five garlic bulbs.
- Crush the bulbs with the flat side of a knife.
- Mix the bulbs with 16 oz (2 cups) of water.
- Allow the garlic and water to settle overnight.
- Add some dish soap to the mixture.
- Strain the liquid through a stranger.
- Add the liquid to 128 oz (16 cups) of water.
- Put it in a spray bottle.
- Liberally spray this over your plants once or twice a week.
The scent of cloves works effectively to repel pests such as flies. Essential oil from clove buds also repels mosquitos, so it’s great for keeping pests away from your garden during the summer.
However, to make clove essential oil really effective, you’ll need it to be a 25-percent concentration.
If you want to remove house flies from your plants, a study by the Journal of Vector Ecology found that cinnamon and vetiver oils were especially toxic to them, whether the flies made contact with them, consumed them, or were fumigated with them. You can mix the oils with sunflower oil as a carrier if you want an effective, cost-friendly solution.
Note that if you don’t want to spray the diluted essential oils onto your hydrangeas, you can dip a cloth in the essential oils and hang it within close proximity to your flowering plants. You must reapply the oils to the cloth every few days so that the scent remains strong.
Earlier, we mentioned that house flies will be attracted to organic matter on the plant, such as in the form of spent blooms or flowers that are dying. Therefore, remove any dying or dead flowers on your hydrangea bush.
While you’re at it, make sure you remove any other natural debris from around the plant, such as in the form of decaying plants.
If you notice lots of flies swarming around your hydrangeas, you’ll naturally want to eliminate them. This isn’t just because they’re a nuisance but also because they can damage your plants. If you’ve got flies hovering around, there are a few things you can try. Some of the most effective methods include:
- Spraying your plants with neem oil, a natural pesticide.
- Setting up sticky fly traps around your plants.
- Spraying your plants with soapy water.
- Using essential oils to ward off flies.
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- Why Does My Hydrangea Have Small Flowers?
- Why Are My Hydrangeas Wilting?
- What Is Eating My Hydrangea Leaves?
- Should I Cut Off Brown Hydrangea Blooms?
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.