Throwing an Outdoor Party? Here’s How to Keep the Flies Away

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An outdoor party can be a fun time for all ages when done right. However, pesky flies are one of the quickest ways to ruin a good time. Guests will be frustrated, swatting at them when they come around. People may not partake in the food if flies are landing on it. In a worst-case scenario, your guests may make an excuse and leave early rather than dealing with these annoying bugs. This is why I’ve gathered the best ways to keep flies away during an outdoor party. 

There are several different ways to keep flies away from your outdoor gathering, including the use of sprays and chemical repellents. However, we’ll start with homemade and chemical-free options and then work our way down the list!


One of the best ways to limit pestering flies is to set up a couple of electric fans outside. Flies (and other winged insects) are not the strongest fliers, so keeping a breeze going around the outdoor gathering can help keep them away. Plus, this has the added benefit of keeping your guests cool. 

Sandwich Bags and Pennies

There are many proponents, and at least as many opponents, to this tactic for repelling flies at a party. The thinking goes that if you fill a clear sandwich bag with water and throw a couple of copper coins inside, it will keep flies away. Many people swear by this method. However, there are others who contend that it actually attracts flies. 

After digging into this research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the good outweighs the bad. But, there is also reason to believe that sunlight shining on the bags of water makes this homemade fly repellent effective because it has a refractory effect, confusing the fly’s compound eyes. 

The fact is that there are just too many people who have had success with this method for me to not include it on the list. Personally, I’ve never tried it, but I think I will the next time I throw an outdoor party. 

How To Do It

Just fill several sealable sandwich bags about halfway with water. Put a couple of pennies inside, and hang the bags up where they will reflect the sunlight. 

Homemade Fly Trap

There are a ton of different ways to make your own fly traps. After all, flies aren’t too discerning when it comes to the type of bait they’ll come after. Essentially, all of the traps are similar in that they provide irresistible bait, an easy way in, a sticky substance to gum up fly wings, and a small exit. If this sounds complicated, don’t worry. It’s really not. 

You can use a plastic water or soda bottle with a little modification to create the trap. For this, you’ll need:

  • A plastic water or soda bottle.
  • ½ cup white vinegar. (Or apple cider vinegar).
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar.
  • ¼ cup water. 

How To Do It

Cut the top of the plastic bottle off carefully. Set aside. Mix the water, vinegar, and sugar in the bottom of the bottle. Remove the cap from the top of the bottle. Place the top of the bottle upside down inside the bottom of the bottle, creating a cone-like entrance to the sweet concoction below. Inverting the top of the lid like this makes it easy for flies to get in, but not to get out. Eventually, the flies will get stuck in the liquid substance and perish, saving your outdoor gathering. 

This works well, but don’t expect immediate results. Ideally, you’ll make a few of these traps and set them outside a day or two before the party starts. 

Here’s a video of another trap, this one using shrimp meat as bait!

Food Covers

If your main concern is keeping the flies away from your food (after all they can carry disease), then these food covers are your best bet. Just place them over the food as soon as it is brought outside to protect it from the gross and harmful bacteria that flies carry with them. 

These Simply Genius food covers are reusable and collapsible. They’re also tall and wide enough for most dishes at 17” X 17”. 

Electronic Fly Trap

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One of the most effective ways to keep your outdoor party free from flies is to use an electronic bug zapper. These attract flies with ultraviolet light and zap them when they land on the electronic mesh inside the safety screen. They work best at night, but can also work during the day. For best results, turn on the zapper about three hours before you plan on having people in the area. 

The TBI Pro Bug Zapper is a popular favorite. It attracts flies and mosquitoes with both UV light and a non-toxic attractant. It’s also rainproof and easy to clean. It does, however, need to be plugged into an outlet to work. 

Disposable Fly Traps

Disposable fly traps are ideal for those homeowners who don’t have the time or inclination to make their own. They work in a similar fashion, attracting flies with bait through a small hole. Once inside, they become trapped. Once the trap is full, you can simply throw it away. 

I recommend these Rescue Brand Hanging Fly Traps. They’re inexpensive, effective, and can trap a whole lot of flies!

Offer Bug Repellent

Finally, you can offer your guests bug repellent in the form of a spray or a lotion. Obviously this is not an ideal option unless you’re only having a few guests and you don’t have any other fly deterrents on hand. Plus, this will only keep the flies from landing on your guests. It won’t do much to keep the little bugs away from any food or drinks you may be serving. 

Many people aren’t comfortable with DEET chemical insect repellent, so it’s good to have some chemical-free repellent on hand. I’ve included a recommendation for one of each, so you have the option. 

  • DEET Insect Repellent by Repel Brand – DEET is considered safe for use by many health organizations. There are some instances of adverse effects, but they are incredibly rare. Still, some people don’t like the smell and feel of DEET, which is completely understandable. 
  • DEET-Free Repellent by OFF! Brand – This is a plant-based repellent that uses naturally occurring scents to keep bugs away for up to 2 hours. Safe for kids and adults!

Justin Childress

Justin Childress is the creator of He is also a devoted husband and father of his 1-year-old son Gabriel. Justin enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, of course, contributing to Read more about me or follow me on Pinterest to stay connected.

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