If you’re a gardener, there’s a good chance you’ve dealt with carrot rust flies at some point. The larvae of these little insects can ruin your carrots and other root vegetables faster than you think.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help. There are a number of natural methods that you can try right at home to get rid of these pests.
Keep reading for our top tips on how to get rid of carrot flies using natural means.
What Are Carrot Rust Flies?
You’ve probably seen them before. The adults have black, glossy bodies. They also have yellow legs.
The carrot root fly loves to lay its eggs near host plants , mainly carrots. When the eggs hatch, the larvae (white to yellow-brown maggots) start to tunnel through the roots of the plant. Not good.
Some other crops that are most affected by carrot root fly larvae are parsnips, celery, and parsley.
If you’re still not sure, you can always take a closer look at the damage they’ve done. Wilted leaves, holes in the crop, and an overall decline in crop health are all signs that you may have a carrot fly problem.
How to Get Rid of Carrot Flies Naturally
If you’re seeing signs of carrot fly damage on any of these plants, it’s time to take action. Below are some home remedies and natural methods you can try out.
1. Companion Planting
When it comes to fighting carrot root flies, companion planting is your friend. What you do is plant susceptible crops near other plants that will repel the flies.
You might want to plant French marigolds near your carrots because their scent will deter carrot flies. Other plants that keep away carrot flies include onions, garlic, chives, and leeks.
2. Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is another option for dealing with carrot flies. Avoid growing affected crops in the same planting area every year.
What you need to do is switch up the crops you’re growing in that area, so you break the carrot rust fly life cycle and avoid re-infestation.
3. Avoid Thinning Out
You might be tempted to thin out your carrot plants, but this is actually the worst thing you can do if you want to stay clear of carrot pests.
When you thin out your carrots, you most likely will bruise the foliage and this releases a smell that attracts the critters.
4. Sow Late in the Season
You can also try sowing seeds late in the season. This will prevent egg laying around susceptible crops. Newly-hatched larvae will not find what they need to feed on.
5. Do Not Plant Carrots Nears Parsnips or Celery
Don’t plant your carrots near other host plants such as parsnips and celery.
The roots of these plants are a favorite food source for carrot fly larvae, so by keeping them away from your carrots, you’ll reduce the chances of an infestation.
If you can’t avoid planting them near each other, then make sure to place a barrier between the two crops, like a row of chives. This will help to deter carrot flies.
6. Sticky Traps
You could also try using sticky traps as a carrot fly control method.
These are little traps that you place on stakes above the planting area, and they’re covered in a sticky substance that will catch the flies.
7. Beneficial Nematodes
Beneficial nematodes are tiny, worm-like parasites that feast on the larvae of carrot flies and other soil-dwelling pests.
They can be found at most garden centers or online, and they’re really easy to apply. Just follow the instructions that come with your purchase.
8. Row Covers
Row covers are synthetic fabrics that you put over your plants. They work by forming a protective barrier over your vegetables, which helps stop these pests from coming near.
You can buy them at most garden stores or make your own using sheer curtains or shade cloth and PVC pipe hoops as support.
But make sure they fit snugly over your plants so there’s no space for the pests to get in.
9. Remove Affected Roots
Another carrot rust fly control method is to remove bad crops. Carrot worms love to eat the roots of carrots and other host crops, so if you can remove the damaged ones, you’ll be one step closer to keeping them under control.
Also, remove old carrots from the planting area as this will keep the larvae from lingering around. Just be careful not to damage the healthy roots in the process.
10. Grow Carrots in Tall Planters
If you’re having trouble with carrot flies, try growing in tall planters. This may reduce the incidence of these pests, and you’ll still be able to get the benefits of growing in containers.
You can buy some really nice tall planters from garden stores or online, or you can make your own out of recycled materials.
11. Garlic Spray
The scent of garlic repels carrot pests and other garden insects so they keep their distance from your plants.
So, for a quick home remedy to deter these critters, consider spraying your crops with garlic spray.
There are some simple recipes online, but we’ve already put together an article on how to make garlic spray for plants. Go ahead and give this DIY carrot fly spray a try!
When it comes to controlling carrot flies, organic farmers have a few different options. They can use traps, repellents, or other organic techniques to keep the pests away.
Choose the method that works best for you, and make sure to keep up with the routine to prevent the pest from taking over your garden.