How to Keep Flies Away From Food at an Outdoor Party

Last updated on December 10th, 2021

The summer is here, and so are outdoor parties and an opportunity for you to spoil your guests with plenty of food. However, having flies turn your food into a playground is not only annoying but also unhealthy. Swatting them away with an old newspaper may not be the best option because it leaves you exhausted and your guests unimpressed by the sight of dead flies littering the compound. So, what is the best method of how to keep flies away from food at an outdoor party?

There are several techniques to keep flies away from food at an outdoor party but the best one is to make your outdoors have a scent that flies cannot stand. This involves using scent diffusers and filling them with lemon and clove essential oils that would repel flies. Citronella candles also produce a scent that these flies hate but it is only ideal when it’s not windy. 

We have dedicated this post to show you how to keep flies away from food at an outdoor party. Also, we have got a bonus for you on how to keep them away from your home ultimately.

Let’s dive in!

Why Keep Flies away at an outdoor party

They are a nuisance

Who doesn’t get annoyed when these pesky insects swarm around their compound? Seeing them play on your arm, dishes, or food on the table is unsightly and distractive

Cause diseases

Flies are the number one cause of dreadful diseases such as Dysentery, Typhoid, Cholera, etc. They transport harmful bacteria to food, which in turn cause poisoning. To protect your family and guests from such diseases, keep away flies from food, especially during outdoor parties.

Natural Ways to Keep Flies Away from Food at an Outdoor Party

Apart from swatting, below are other natural methods you could use to keep flies away from food at an outdoor party.

Keep the compound clean

Flies love dirt. It is from here that they hatch before they get to contaminate food and drinks. To keep them away, keep the compound clean. Here are some of the ways you could do this:

  • Cover all the trash cans to keep away flies.
  • Keep the lawns and grass short as these are common breeding zones.
  • Avoid creating dump sites around the compound.
  • Pick up all the dirt.
  • Avoid stagnant water and clogged sinks.

Keep all the food covered

Flies are attracted to food scents. With plenty of serving going on at your outdoor party, you are most likely to attract these uninvited guests. Make sure to cover all the food. Some of the ways to do this are by using aluminum foil, plastic wrap, airtight containers, and waxed paper. Also, store away all the food that remains after the party to avoid attracting the flies.

Keep away dirty dishes

All outdoor parties come with loads of dirty dishes. After enjoying the main meals, keep away the dirty dishes to avoid attracting flies to your dessert. Below are a few steps to help you stack the dirty dishes away to wash later.

  • Scrap off leftovers from the plates into plastic bags.
  • Add a few drops of baking soda to a bucket of warm water.
  • Soak the dishes to wash later.
  • Cover the bucket to keep away stray flies.

Clean up spillages and food crumbs

With serving and eating comes spillages and food crumbs. To keep flies away from the dinner, make sure to clean away all spillages before they pile up. Use a piece of cloth dipped in warm salted water to clean the dining tables.

Use natural herbs and oils

Natural scents scare away flies. They hate the smell. Using these natural aromas spices up the party and keeps the flies away from food.

Basil, Lavender, Citrus, Mint, Rosemary, Garlic, Mint, Lemongrass, and Cloves are some of the best scents you could use to achieve this. For example, cut small pieces of lemon, rosemary leaves, and garlic into small bowls. Place these bowls on each table. Your guests could use the herbs to spice their food while unknowingly keeping away flies from the food.

If you have the time to do a little kitchen gardening before the next outdoor party, consider adding some of these herbs to your farm. You will be surprised at how much these scents will keep your home fresh and free from flies. 

Grow some carnivorous plants around your compound

Another way to keep flies away from food at an outdoor party is by growing several carnivorous plants. You must have heard of plants that “eat” insects, such as the Venus flytrap. This plant produces chemicals that appeal to the smell of insects, attracting them for prey.

Having these plants in different corners of your compound will keep away flies from your outdoor parties. Besides, they will add to your home’s good looks as they are attractive.

When bad comes to worse, set up natural traps

Flies can be stubborn, pushing you to set up a few traps to kill them. Unlike most natural scents, cider is appealing to flies. Set up a natural trap by mixing up some apple cider with soap in an open glass jar.  This aroma will attract the flies, trapping them and keeping them away from food. However, this method works best only when you place the jars away from the dining table, as the sight of dead flies can be disgusting.

Artificial Ways to Keep Flies Away from Food at an Outdoor Party

Put up electric fans

Electric fans are economical and eco-friendly to keep flies away from food at an outdoor party. Flies cannot fly in strong winds. Therefore, a running fan limits the flies’ movement.

The breeze from the fans scares away the flies and helps you and your guests relax. Besides, if you are holding your party at night, electric fans will keep away mosquitoes.

Get electric scent diffusers

Unlike natural scents that require you to spare some time for preparation, electric diffusers are ready for use. You can get them at your nearby grocery store at affordable prices. Here is how to use an electric scent diffuser to keep flies away from food at an outdoor party.

  • Find a suitable location. Scents are more effective in an enclosed area such as the patio. 
  • Plug the electric diffuser into a power outlet.
  • Most electric diffusers require water to work. Add water to the recommended level.
  • Add the desired amount of blended scents.
  • Turn on the diffuser and watch the flies become helpless!

Flies hate these scents. Not only will they fly away, but you will also impress your guests with these aromas. Most of the diffusers are also aesthetically appealing.

How about ultrasonic pest repellers?

Contrary to popular opinion, ultrasonic repellents are not just the enemy of mosquitoes. You can also use these devices to keep away most pests, including flies.

When plugged into a power source, these gadgets emit sound frequencies that are irritating to flies without touching the human ear. The frequencies scare them away, with some high-powered ones killing the insects. 

However, there are debates on the effectiveness of these devices as a long-term pest control method. Before buying one for your home, seek professional advice to get the best out of your gadget.

Light up several Citronella candles

Citronella is an essential oil used in most insect repellers as a non-toxic biopesticide. You can use Citronella candles to keep away flies from food at an outdoor party on summer nights when the wind is not strong. 

Impress your guests by laying up several colorful and sweet-smelling Citronella candles around the dinner. Not only will this keep away the flies, but it will also protect them from mosquito bites.

Install yellow light bulbs

Flies seem to have trouble seeing through yellow light compared to the white and blue lighting. Setting up several yellow light bulbs around the compound is one way to send the flies wandering off into the darkness. The lights will keep the flies away and also brighten the party.

Get some fly killers

Fly killers, commonly known as fly zappers, are devices designed to use ultraviolet light to attract flies before killing them. There are two types of fly killers, fly zappers and fly glue boards. Below is how each one of them works.

  • Fly zapper

This unit comprises an ultra-violet bulb and an electrified metal grid. Flies are drawn to the bright light before they are electrocuted and killed on the spot. We like this method because it is less messy as the dead flies drop on a tray covered by the external bars. 

  • Fly glue board/trap

The glue board comprises an ultra-violet fluorescent bulb and a replaceable sticky board. The bright light lures the flies before the sticky board traps them. 

Consider hanging a few fly killers of your choice on the patio to stop flies from messing up with your outdoor party.

Wear body fly repellents

When not praying over your food, flies love playing on your body. It could be on your arms, forehead, back, etc. To keep off flies from your outdoor party, consider wearing body repellents that come in the form of lotion, cream, or spray. Go for the ones that are certified for body use, like lemongrass oil.

When using the lotion and cream, apply small amounts on areas that mostly attract flies, like the forehead and the arms. Be careful to read the instructions before use, in case the lotion contains components that may be reactive with your skin.

Before using the spray, shake the can first to distribute the contents evenly. Hold the can a few inches above the skin before spraying. Also, consider spraying some on your clothes to keep off the flies.

However, wearing body fly repellents only works well when you are having a small family outdoor party. Having your guests queue to be “vaccinated” against flies can be more annoying than the flies themselves.

Can you get rid of flies out of an outdoor party completely?

Yes, you can get rid of flies out of an outdoor party completely. The best way to keep flies away is to deny them a chance to exist in the first place. Flies breed in dirty areas and so, the most effective way to keep them away is by keeping your home clean.

Here is how you do that.

Make your home’s hygiene a top priority

Make it your mission to keep your home clean. Ensure all garbage cans are covered, all animal waste is collected, clean all the dishes as soon as possible, clean outdoor surfaces regularly, no dumping sites within the compound, etc.  In a nutshell, be CLEAN!

Frequently check mouse traps

Decaying debris in the mouse traps and other corners of your home is the ideal source of flies. Frequently check them out to ensure they are clean. Also, constantly clean and disinfect pet houses to get rid of animal waste that could attract flies.

Say no to clogged sinks and drainage systems

Entertaining those clogged drainage systems in your home will turn it into a fly breeding zone. You can avoid this by cleaning the systems with hot water and a disinfectant.

Put on your gardening hat

Consider adding some of those scents that “piss off” flies to your garden. Visit the botanic offices and get some carnivorous plants to blend in.

Hold a “clear garbage” campaign in your neighborhood

Flies can supposedly fly up to a distance of 5 miles. Having a clean home in a dirty neighborhood will frustrate your efforts. Organize with your neighbors how you could keep the environment clean and free from flies. 90% of them are likely to jump at the idea.


Keeping flies away from food at an outdoor party in summer can be devastating but you can start off by employing one of the methods mentioned above. However, we recommend going the long term way of keeping your home and its environs clean, as this will prevent flies from breeding.

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