When the warm weather swings around, it’s only natural to want to rush out and dust off the BBQ, ready to get grilling. While BBQing and eating outside can bring much summer joy, one pest threatens it all: flies. 

But we’ve got you covered, so your food doesn’t have to be. Keep reading to uncover 10 clever ways to keep flies away from your food and BBQs.

How to Keep Flies Away Outside

1. Repel Flies With Lemons and Cloves

Repel Flies With Lemons and Cloves

Lemons and cloves are some of the best natural fly repellants. Flies can’t stand the high concentration of citric acid lemons contain and they detest cloves’ strong odour. 

To repel flies with lemons and cloves, cut some lemons in half and poke cloves into the fleshy part. Place several lemon halves on a plate and set it in the middle of your outdoor table. And voilà! No pesky flies. 

2. Spray All-Natural Fly Repellent 

Spray All-Natural Fly Repellent 

Fly repellent sprays are easy – you can buy them as is, with minimal effort. But if you’re choosing a shop-bought option, ensure it’s all-natural.

All-natural fly repellents are typically made from natural ingredients such as herbs, vinegar, and essential oils, making them safe to have around food. 

My absolute go-to all-natural fly repellent is the Incognito Insect Repellent Spray

3. Grow Aromatic Plants That Flies Hate

Any plant with a strong odour is often enough to keep flies at bay. Furthermore, the aromatic properties of these plants can block food odours. 

Adding fly-repelling aromatic plants around (or even on!) your table is a subtle yet effective way to keep flies away from your food. Some of the best aromatics to repel flies are:

4. Reduce Flies Using Carnivorous Plants 


Carnivorous plants are a stellar way to keep the fly numbers down in your outdoor eating area. However, they won’t stop flies from approaching. 

Yet what they lack in preventative measures, they make up for in visual interest – who doesn’t want to watch a carnivorous plant at work?

While carnivorous plants typically prefer heat, certain varieties thrive in the UK climate:

  • Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia)
  • Dew-thread sundew (Drosera filiformis var filiformis)
  • Pinguiciula grandiflora
  • Pinguiciula vulgaris

5. Distract Flies Using the Plastic Bag Trick

According to old folk remedies, hanging a plastic bag filled with water over your outdoor seating area can effectively repel flies. People still swear by this method today.

Supposedly, the water in the bag reflects the light, creating a distorted image that confuses flies, causing them to fly away. Cool trick, huh?

6. Create a DIY Homemade Fly Trap 

Who wants fly strips hanging from walls or unsightly fly traps for all to see? That’s what you’ll get if you buy a fly trap from a shop. Luckily, you can make your own. All you need is:

  • A jar, like an old pasta sauce or mason jar
  • Vinegar
  • Piece of paper

Pour a little vinegar into your jar and funnel the paper into the top. Then watch the fly trap work its magic!  

7. Light Insect Repelling Candles

insect repellent candle

Candles are a great way to keep flies away. But it’s only specific candles that do the trick. You can buy insect-repelling candles from online retailers  – these often contain insect-repelling essential oils like citronella. 

8. Set Up an Electric Fan 

Setting up an electric fan around your food and BBQ area can keep flies away as the strong wind makes it much harder for them to hover nearby. Choose an industrial fan for a big gathering area or a wall-mounted or pedestal fan for a small seating space. 

9. Switch Your White Lightbulbs for Yellow Ones

White and blue light has a shorter wavelength which flies are naturally drawn to. In contrast, yellow light has a longer wavelength, making it far less attractive to flies. 

Therefore, switching your white bulbs to yellow ones can reduce the number of flies around when you eat outside during the evening.

10. Make Use of Essential Oils

essential oil diffuser

Essential oils have natural insect-repellent effects. Not only will they deter flies from coming near your food, but they’ll also repel ants, ticks, and mosquitoes. The most effective essential oils to repel flies are peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender. 

However, if these scents aren’t for you, you could also try:

  • Citronella
  • Tansy
  • Lemongrass
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Geranium

Either place an essential oil diffuser near your table or spray outdoor surfaces with your chosen essential oil.