How To Get Rid Of Corn Flies | 3 Effective Ways

Flies are pesky little buggers. Corn flies, a cousin to the fruit fly, are one such pest that likes to live in and around cornfields or other sweet, nectary plants—their buzzing, bothersome colonies a common issue in agricultural areas. With how obnoxious flies are, it’s no wonder people want to get rid of them. 

Generally speaking, the best way to get rid of large outdoor infestations is setting chemical traps. While, for minor indoor infestations or outdoor deterrents, herbs like mint and essential oils like citronella pair well with traps like sticky tape.

But, the right solution depends on the scope of the fly problem and the location of the issue. 

Keep reading to discover solutions to deal with corn flies and the information you need for a successful de-flying. 

Can You Get Rid Of Cornflies Outside?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could spend every moment outdoors unbothered by bugs? A bug-free world sounds great on paper, but it’s not so great for Mother Nature.

Plants and people rely on pollinators like the corn fly to help keep the natural order going, so a world without flies isn’t genuinely attainable. 

But there are ways for you to reduce the presence of corn flies near your home. Keep in mind, there are no permanent corn fly removers on the market, and it’s natural for them to be outside – the outdoors is their natural habitat. 

Why Corn Flies Hang Out Around Crops

Corn flies frequently buzz around – you guessed it – cornfields. However, corn is not the only crop they are known to bother. Any sweet, sugary crop draws in these flies.

Sugar beets, peas, squash, you name it, corn flies will be there. Their presence around crops and gardens makes sense, considering they thrive on the nectar that many flowering vegetables and fruits produce.

Their presence isn’t necessarily a bad thing on crops because corn flies, like bees, are excellent pollinators. Some plants, like squash and swedes, require pollination to grow.

In some ways, corn flies do a bit of gardening and farming work for you. But, just because they are helpful in some cases doesn’t mean corn flies should have free reign over your crops, especially when they start leaving the crops to invade the home.

Why Corn Flies Are In Your House

Corn flies visit homes for the same reason they visit your garden: food. Spilled sugar, sweet fruits, and even sweaty humans attract corn flies because, to them, the home smells like nectar or pollen.

It’s not that the flies have anything against you or that they want to bother you; their instinct is simply to find food to stay alive. 

How To Reduce Cornflies Inside And Outside

When choosing a method for reducing corn fly populations, consider if you want to deter the pests or kill them.

On the other hand, deterrents help keep pests away from the outdoor areas nearest your home and reduce their presence inside the house. 

reduce flies inside and outside

Human-Made Corn Fly Deterrents

Humans are good about inventing things to keep pests away. There are plenty of fly deterrents and population reducers on the market.

Fly Traps

The classic fly trap is still popularly used against corn flies. They come in all shapes and sizes and can usually be used inside and outside, depending on the model. Flytraps use bright colors and chemical attractants to draw in flies.

The fly easily gets in the trap, but the structure design prevents them from leaving the trap. Traps range in capacity, with some drawing in more than 20,000 flies.

Fly Tape 

Fly tape is generally safer for use in the home than other chemical fly traps. The tape uses attractant and color to lure in the pests but typically does not contain chemicals. Most manufacturers use a non-toxic sticky material, like rosin, for their tape.

Insect Killer Spray

Insect killer sprays are popularly used indoors for insect pests. Variations that specialize in killing flies are sold in most grocery and home improvement stores.

The chemicals used in the sprays can be harmful to pets and humans, so caution is recommended with their use.

Natural Corn Fly Deterrents

Mother Nature provides plenty of deterrents to corn flies and their cousins. 

Carnivorous Plants

Venus flytraps eat just about any fly; they aren’t picky. Other plants exist that eat flies, too. Trumpet plants, Pitcher Plants, and Sundew plants are fly-eating machines as well.

Keep in mind that these plants usually need keeping indoors. Stick them in a pretty pot and let the flies keep them well-fed. 

Vinegar Fly Traps

If flies have invaded the home and you need them gone fast, set out a brightly colored bowl of apple cider vinegar and dish soap.

Flies are attracted to the pungent smell, but they become trapped by the dish soap when they land in the bowl.

Use a ¼ cup of dish soap for every cup of vinegar. To make the mix extra attractive, use a floral or fruit-scented soap. 


If you like gardening, consider adding these herbs to the garden and in pots around the house to deter flies:

Basil – often used in Italian cooking, basil is quickly grown in pots or planted in the ground. The smell of basil deters flies, ants, and other biting insects.

MintMint has a pungent odor that deters most insects and helps keep mice and rabbits from the garden.

Be careful when planting mint; it easily spreads and can invade the entire garden. It’s best to grow mint in pots outside or indoors to prevent overgrowth.

Rosemary Rosemary’s strong odor repels flying insects and corn flies. It grows well in gardens and pots. You can dry it in bunches and hang them around the house to deter flies.

Lavender Probably the prettiest fly deterrent on the list; lavender’s scent keeps flies away from homes and yards. Plant it in the garden or hang dried bunches in the house to deter flies. 

flies on a lime

Essential Oils

Any essential oils of the previously mentioned herbs deter flies. There are other fly-deterring essential oils on the market.

Use essentials oils around the house by mixing 10-12 drops total in a full spray bottle of water of your selected oils and spray around the home like an air freshener. 

Eucalyptus Pungent and earthy smelling, this Australian plant keeps flies, mosquitos, and other pests out of the home.

It also works excellent as a wearable bug repellent; just dab a drop on your wrists and behind the ears for added bug protection. 

Lemon GrassLemon Grass essential oils deter most species of flies and mosquitos. 

CitronellaCitronella isn’t just for mosquitos! It deters most flying insects, including flies.

Tea Tree – Tea tree is a popular antimicrobial essential oil, but it also functions as a deterrent for flies and beetles in the home. 

Cedar Wood

Weirdly enough, cedarwood deters flies. Its essential oil works well as a spray mixed with mint or lemongrass oils for indoor and bug spray use.

What Are Corn Flies?

“Corn flies” is only one of the several names these flying creatures have. Also known as “flower flies” and “hover flies,” they belong to the Syrphidae family of insects.

They have long, narrow bodies similar to a wasp or bee, with some sub-species having yellow markings on their backs. 

Corn flies are not bees, and they do not sting.

In fact, aside from being annoying, they are relatively harmless. Their bee similarities are a product of evolution.

These flies evolved over time to appear more like bees as a defense against predators who avoid eating the stinging insects.

The corn fly is merely a bee copycat, but they do live similar lives to bees in many respects. 

Corn flies spend their days hovering around plantlife looking for nectar, just like bees. They don’t make honey with their finds, though.

Nectar fuels the corn fly much like coffee fuels the average American. It provides the energy they need to find pollen – their food – mate, and move around from place to place. 

Corn flies tend to end their day resting on piles of leaves, stagnant water, or occasionally in an empty insect nest.

They don’t have colonies like bees, but they often coexist in moderately sized groups.

The Take-Away

When it comes to handling a corn fly problem, you’ve got options. In many cases, a combination of human-made traps and sprays and natural fly deterrents work well to tame the corn fly invasion.

Keep in mind that homes with pets and children should be careful with any chemicals and essential oils in use.

And remember, corn flies are helpful for your garden and crops, so maybe consider a partial truce and let them do their pollinating work as long as they stay outside. 

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