How to Keep Maggots and Flies Out of Your Vegetable Garden
When you have a vegetable garden, you quite literally reap the fruits of your labor: You are rewarded with fresh produce when it's time to harvest. And while delicious, organic recipes are the end result, you also get to enjoy a lovely outdoor space during the growing season—that is, until flies and maggots invade. Luckily, with the right precautions, you can keep these critters out of your garden for good. Here, exactly how to do so, according to garden experts.
Maggots feed on the roots of vegetables.
Josh Matta, the senior biologist for Spectrum Brands and a garden, plant, and bug expert, explains that maggots feed on the roots of vegetables; eventually, they grow into adult root maggot flies and you will have an infestation on your hands. "Maggots are harmful to vegetables since they eat the roots of plants deep in the soil preventing their growth," Sabine H. Schoenberg, a home and garden expert and the CEO of Smart. Healthy. Green. Living, notes.
They are attracted to plants that give off moisture.
Maggots will make their way onto young, newly planted rows of plants that release excess moisture, Schoenberg explains. "Root maggots and flies are typically attracted to the roots of turnips, rutabagas, onions, carrots, and radishes and will also feed on cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and broccoli," Matta says. "They are known to feed on many types of vegetable roots."
Take measures to keep them away.
"Some gardeners lay layers of paper on top of the soil to prevent the laying of eggs," Schoenberg says. "There is also so-called row cover, which is a polyester 'blanket' which has openings to allow sunlight, water, and air to flow through; openings are small enough, however, to keep insects out." Consider the HOTBEST Anti-Bug Garden Netting ($25, walmart.com), if you want to go this route. Another option? Apply beneficial nematodes, since they maintain the soil ecology.
Your planting practices and garden tools could make a difference, too. "Refrain from planting too early in the spring," Matta says, "and do not use manure in your garden—it could already be contaminated with maggots." Be sure to prioritize clean-up at the end of the season; clear away dead plants and roots in the fall to keep any potential pupae away. And in terms of insecticides, Matta has a few top picks. "I advise using a multi-purpose insecticide formulated for organic gardening that can be used on a range of garden plants and shrubbery against listed insects, like Garden Safe Multi-Purpose Garden Insect Killer ($7.35, walmart.com)," he shares.