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Do Flies Eat Plants? (Read This First!)

Finding tiny fruit flies or gnats loitering above the dirt of your potted plants is a common complaint among indoor gardeners. Suppose you are wondering if flies eat plants or not. We will be discussing it all.

Usually, flies do not feed on plants, but there are some specific types of flies or maggots that can cause harm to your house plants.

The good news is it’s easy to get rid of those flies that can harm your plants in natural ways. So, eventually, you won’t have to spend a single penny on pest control.

Do flies eat plants? 

Flies do not eat plants. But certain kinds of flies can and do eat plants. They are more active during sunny and warm days. Flies mainly feed on plant leaves, fruit surfaces, honeydew, and other parts. Flies also tend to feed on decaying materials and rotten food.

They depend on rotting garbage to complete their life cycle. These flies feed on the decomposing organic debris from the potting soil.  

Flies can cause harm to your house plants and various parts of them. Such as:   

Plant leaves:

Flies can make a five-course out of your indoor garden. Whiteflies usually infest on leaves. Depending on their types, they can suck nutrition from your plants.

As a result, your plants get weaker, have poor growth, and can end up having discolored leaves. You can prevent your plants from flies by keeping the leaves damp. 

Plant flowers:

Adult flies feed on flowers. They eat nectar and honeydew. Different types of flies are attracted to different flowers. They invest in plants or decaying materials.

Some flies even infest on the bulbs of lilies. The basic reason behind flies being attracted towards flowers is the wet, damped soil they are planted in and tons of decaying debris.

Do these flies eat plants?

Let’s walk through this section to know if the following flies eat plants or not –

Fruit flies:

Fruit flies do not eat plants. They usually feed on the nectar of flowers, surfaces of fruits, honeydew, plant secretion, and other parts. Fruit flies are also attracted to garbage and decaying or decomposing materials.    

Dragonflies:

Dragonflies are predators. They do not scavenge or eat plants. The larvae will consume small aquatic creatures that they can find. This includes small fishes, aquatic worms, tadpoles, and other dragonfly larvae.

The good news is dragonflies are not bad for your garden. They will not cause any harm to them.

House flies:

House flies do not eat flies. Adult house flies usually feed on decaying materials and harvest their eggs on them. Decaying organic material includes rotten fruits, vegetables, meat, and plant secretion. Male flies and female flies both tend to suck nectar from flowers.

But they are not harmful; rather they are beneficial bugs. They work as decomposers and decaying organisms.

Crane flies:

Crane flies are harmful to plants. The larvae of the crane flies tend to eat the roots of vegetables and other plants. And this continues till they are in their adulthood.

Crane-fly larvae can cause serious damage to the stems and roots of a plant. As a result, the growth of the plant is hampered. The infestation of the fly will be pretty visible. It may appear like unhealthy yellow grass patches of brown grass.

Green flies:

Greenflies are a part of wider insects that are known as aphids. They are attracted to all sorts of flowers and plants.  

Greenflies are one of the most common types of flies that you will notice in your garden. These flies are found on all types of flies. They tend to feed on plants using fine tabular mouthparts. They insert these mouthparts into the plant cell and suck nutrition from it. 

Drain flies:

They are called drain flies for a reason. Drain flies love plants, but they cannot harm the plants. They are attracted to moist soil. These flies survive on decomposed materials and drain water.

They sometimes feed on the roots, but it does not cause any severe damage to the plant.

Black flies:

Black flies can also spread virus diseases. They infest by sucking plant sap. They often cause damage to your plants. A bad fly infestation can weaken the plant terribly.  

Green bottle flies:

Green bottle flies are known as filth feeders. They usually feed on lifeless animals, garbage, feces, and decomposing plant parts.

Whiteflies:

Whiteflies are a pretty common greenhouse pest. They infest on leaves and suck up plant juices. But unfortunately, at certain times of the year, these pests can be an issue for vegetables or plants.

Lanternflies:

Laternlfies strongly prefer trees that have an economic impact. Such as maple, grapevines, birch, etc.

What plants do flies eat?

Adult flies are attracted to dill, fennel, parsley, sunflower, and many more. They consume plant nectar for sustenance. Lanternflies are usually known for eating grapevines, maple trees, birch, willow, black walnut, and many others.

Also, flies are attracted to poor quality soil, overwatered roots, and other decaying materials.

Lantern flies are a complex problem. The scary part about lanternflies is that they can feed over 70 different plant species. Unfortunately, it prefers plants that have vital economic importance. 

The feeding on these plants may significantly damage plant growth, which can even lead to life loss.

Adult lanternflies also prefer cultivated grapes or trees of heaven. As the flies grow into adults, their food preferences start to get narrow. Along with grapevines and trees of heaven, they sometimes switch to maples, willow and others. These pests can rarely feed on trees.

How do I keep flies from eating my plants?

Flies are associated with dirt, damped soil, and stink. They can turn the cleanest place into an unpleasant one, even your garden. In case you are wondering how to keep flies from eating your plants, here are a few things you can do:

Deep cleaning the garden:

Flies can get anywhere. If they live in your garden, it’s just a matter of time before they will enter your house.  Their annoying buzzing is way more digressing inside the house.

So, before you plan and clean the areas where they lay eggs in your garden, be sure to check your house areas too — especially the cracks, leaks, and gaps.   

Once you find the place they are laying eggs, try to eliminate all the garbage bags, stagnant water, and stinky spots. Sealing these will help you keep the flies outside your house. Keeping your wheelie bins should help too.

Make sure to disinfect them and cover them tightly. It’s better to eradicate the flies before they even start growing.

Treating your wheelie bins:

Bins are beacons for flies and other pests. No matter how much you clean them or disinfect them, they are gonna keep coming back. You can choose to separate your garbage. And then focus on organic trash.

Specifically, you would want to avoid maggots. Maggots are fly larvae. Although flies don’t live long, they reproduce in large numbers.

Spraying the edges of the bin lids can help to keep the pests away. This will keep the flies from entering the bin and laying eggs inside.

Using DIY fly traps:

More or less, we all drink sodas. And the soda bottles can be used to make fly traps. You can use seed water bottles too. You can try DIY traps to keep them away.

Investing in essential oil sources :

Essential oils are great, and yes, they are pricey. And apparently, they are misunderstood. Essential oils are essence extracted from trees, and flies dislike them.

Suppose you don’t want to spend a ton of money on the essential oil. Try planting these trees, for example, lavender, basil, eucalyptus, elderberry, etc.

Cutting the grass in your garden:

This might sound weird as grasses are fresh, green, and alive. Flies will very unlikely enjoy it. But, tall grass is something they would enjoy very much. It’s a great spot for hiding and decaying materials in the soil.

So, cutting the grass will not encourage the flies to lay eggs. Additionally, keeping the grass short also helps to keep other pests away.

What plants deter flies?

Plants like petunias, marigolds, lavender, etc deter flies. 

Keeping bugs away or deterring them can be pretty challenging. However, if you use plants to prevent flies, your backyard will look beautiful and colorful at the same time. 

Plants such as lavender, basil, lemongrass,  nasturtium, lemon thyme are great options.

Final thoughts

All flies do not eat plants. But a few types can eat plants and they do. Fruit flies, green flies, and lanternflies are some examples. Flies that infest plants usually cause a good amount of damage. The good news is some plants can be used to deter flies and bugs.