If you are wondering how you can keep flies away from your compost, you are not alone. Flies are a common challenge for most people who compost. Keeping them off can be quite challenging, but with the right information, you can totally keep your compost bin free from flies.
There are various flies that can invade your compost. Depending on aspects like humidity, acidity, or even the sweetness within the waste, you might come across different species. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can prevent or drive out flies from your compost.
In this article, we are going to look at the significance of flies and maggots in compost bins, what you need to get rid of flies in your compost, the different flies notorious for invading composts, and the different techniques you can use to keep flies away from your compost.
The Significance of Flies and Maggots in Compost Bins
There are certain flies and maggots that are essential to the decomposition process.
These aerate the pile and help maintain an optimal temperature for effective decomposition. They also release nutrient-rich excretions that enrich the compost pile.
But even though some flies and maggots are useful for the decomposition process, they can be a problem in large numbers. A few occasional maggots and flies are acceptable, but you must attempt to get rid of them if you detect too many.
Flies That Are Notorious for Invading Compost Bins
There are a few commonly known flies that typically invade compost, particularly when the compost is out in the open, oozing a smell.
These are the scariest looking of all flies, but are the most beneficial to the decomposition process. They are large, brown, and scaly, and the more mature they are, the more they resemble was wasps.
Although most people find them disgusting, these insects are excellent at breaking down organic material.
Worms and soldier flies work well together because they don’t predate on each other. However, despite their benefits, it is vital to ensure there are only a few.
Fruit Flies and Vinegar Flies
Vinegar flies are small and are attracted to rotting fruits’ fermented juices.
Fruit flies are like vinegar flies, the only difference being that they prefer feeding off directly from the fruit.
Oftentimes you will find fruit flies hovering over rotten fruit in supermarkets.
These are tiny flies that are prone to carrying diseases. These flies are notorious for invading compost and multiplying an alarming rate, which is why it’s a good idea to take preventive measures.
Techniques to Keep Flies Away From Your Compost
There are a few techniques you can use to prevent flies from even getting to your compost, and it’s a way of tackling the issue from the get-go.
Tackling Fly Infestation From The Roots
Flies are obviously interested in eating rotten food, so to avoid this, you need to keep your rotting fruits & vegetables out of reach. For instance, if you store decaying waste in a kitchen bin, you can use the fridge as another storing mechanism or a lid to act as a protective cover to disguise the smell.
Yes, if your ultimate goal is to prevent flies from ever appearing, you can’t leave your waste out in the open as flies are attracted to it like bees are to pollen. Put your waste directly in a compost bin (this 65-Gallon bin from Amazon is affordable and has plenty of ventilation) as soon as you have some of it available.
If you don’t have a compost bin yet, store it in a closed box or container that you know you can empty out in a minute. Prevent the waste from decaying in the container, since worms and bacteria react better to fresh organic waste.
Keep Your Compost Properly Aerated
It is also advisable that you have a healthy mix of browns and greens that is thoroughly mixed to fend off the smelly odors that flies love.
The culprit for a smelly compost is usually excess nitrogen (greens) that needs to be balanced with more carbon (browns). Using cardboard (which is rich in carbon) will help regulate the humidity and nitrate content in the compost, converting your compost in an environment hospitable for bacteria and worms, rather than flies.
You may also want to incorporate crushed eggshells in the compost pile to regulate acidity. They have a high calcium carbon composition that can easily dissolve in acidic environments, which again, it will benefit decomposing bacteria.
Create Physical Barriers
Additionally, feel free to cover your compost bin as it helps maintain the warmth required to decompose waste properly, and it will also prevent flies from invading your compost.
By creating physical barriers, you cut the access of flies and other unwanted insects and organisms into your compost.
Flies are attracted to bad odour, which can be partly suppressed using a lid. Some experts recommended using mesh covers, since they allow air to get through, also allowing for it a healthy moisture level that won’t convert into bad odour, while at the same time preventing rodents or other pests from coming close.
Getting Rid of Flies Already In Your Compost
The only way to get rid of flies – besides igniting a fire that would absolutely ruin your compost, is to create an inhospitable environment incapable of providing flies with the things they seek.
And if you haven’t taken any preventive measures to guarantee that not a single fly gets into your compost, then it’s probably too late for that.
Add More Brown Material
To get rid of the flies and the maggots (a byproduct of the eggs left by flies), you have to add more brown material until you completely cut off the food source (green material).
There will come a point where the flies and maggots won’t be able to reach a food source, and they will eventually collapse or go away.
Increasing pH Levels
Attempt to lower the pH levels of your compost by adding lime, pine needles, or citrus peels, as this may keep the larvae of fruit flies from developing.
It might be crucial, particularly if you wish to avoid an infestation.
Remove the Larvae
Don’t worry, you don’t have to kill the larvae yourself. Actually, all you have to do is simply take the top off your bin and let the birds do the work.
Birds love maggots, so if you provide them with access, they will do the job for you.
However, you can also shovel the maggots out so that the birds only eat the maggots, and not your food waste.
As we have seen above, there are many techniques you can apply to keep flies away from your compost pile.
However, depending on the situation, some are more effective than others. It is advisable that you opt for prevention, and creating an environment from the get-go that is not attractive to flies – one that is properly aerated and doesn’t smell.
Bad odour is often a sign of compost that is becoming unhealthy, so if you try your best to guarantee that yours is healthy, then perhaps you won’t have to deal with flies.
Though, it will also depend on whether the climate in your area provides you with the right conditions to be successful without resorting to too many measures.