can of fly spray being sprayed

Does Fly Spray Kill Plants?

Buzz! Smack! You have troublesome flies around the house, and whacking them with a newspaper isn’t cutting it. You’ve decided to go for the heavy-duty stuff, aka fly spray. Yet you worry your indoor plants may be affected if you apply the fly spray too close to them. Will your plants die from fly spray?

Does fly spray kill indoor plants? Fly spray, a type of chemical insecticide, could certainly harm and kill plants if you’ve sprayed it too heavily around your plants.

My years of first hand experience with keeping pests away from my plants has taught me that it’s much better to avoid the use of harsh chemicals. Instead use organic or natural methods to remove flies and pests from around your plants. 

In this article, I’ll explain more about what fly spray is and why you don’t want to spray it around your houseplants (or yourself). I’ll even elaborate further on some natural methods that will stop your fly problem, but not at the expense of your indoor plants.

What Is Fly Spray and What’s in It?

So first thing’s first, what is fly spray anyway? This insecticide is a chemical product typically available in an aerosol.

The chemicals within fly sprays are organophosphate compounds, sometimes referred to as phosphate esters. The organophosphate compounds in the fly spray will stop acetylcholinesterase, a type of enzyme, through binding.

Flies and other animals have a type of nerve transmitter substance known as acetylcholine. This substance comes from the motor neurons in the neuromuscular junction.

Each time a muscle contraction occurs in the common fly, acetylcholine is released. Yet when there’s a lack of acetylcholine, the muscles won’t contract.

With no more cholinesterase in a fly’s system that’s been sprayed, the fly’s neuromuscular junction fails to process acetylcholine. Their muscles begin contracting constantly in what’s called tetany.

Now, the fly can’t respirate, nor can it fly. It soon asphyxiates and dies.

Gruesome, yes, but that’s how fly spray works. Besides ridding your property of flies, fly spray also removes wasps. 

Does Fly Spray Harm Indoor Plants?

It’s convenient to reach for the fly spray when an annoying fly gets in your home, and especially if you suspect you have a wasp buzzing from room to room. Yet if you get the fly spray on your indoor plants, what will happen?

Fly spray will harm your indoor plants. It’s just a matter of how much harm it will do to your plants.

This CDC’s page on organophosphates, the main chemical ingredient in fly spray, also paints a harrowing picture. According to the CDC, outdoor plants and crops typically receive a bath of organophosphates during harvesting time.

In addition to harming the growing plants, the chemicals commonly used in fly spray can also get into the soil as well as nearby surface water.


Organophosphates don’t appear to be washed away in the rain. Instead, the chemicals travel, so now plant surfaces and soil that may not have received a direct application can be affected. 

The CDC notes that the organophosphates don’t linger long in the environment so as to prevent a buildup, so you don’t have to worry about your produce and other edible crops being covered in chemicals, nor about the local wildlife passing organophosphates around that eventually end up on your dinner plate.

The other issue is that fly spray can directly impact your health. Organophosphate poisoning can lead to symptoms such as dilated pupils, leaky eyes, salivation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, wooziness, and headaches. 

That’s only if you maybe breathed in some of the fly spray indirectly or for a very short period. If you continue dousing your garden with fly spray and breathe greater quantities in, your symptoms will be more severe.

These can include changes to your personality, depression, disorientation, no appetite, memory loss, anxiety, and confusion. 

Although more research is needed, it’s believed that organophosphates could contribute to leukemia and lymphoma in children and adults. Other home pesticides can cause brain cancer, leukemia, and soft tissue sarcomas in children, notes the CDC, so fly spray likely can as well. 

So yes, even if your houseplants would be okay if you used fly spray, the same can’t be said for yourself and your loved ones.

Natural Tactics for Removing Flies

It’s much, much better to remove your flies the natural way. Try the following tactics, which are all chemical-free and thus much safer for humans and your houseplants.

Grab Your Flyswatter

Flyswatters are a handy little tool to have around the house. You have to be quick, as flies can travel fast if they want to get away, but with a bit of perseverance, you can whack that fly dead.

I’d only recommend flyswatters if you have a few flies around your indoor plants from time to time. A larger infestation calls for a more advanced removal method.

Use Eucalyptus

You have two options here for implementing eucalyptus in your home or office. You can grow a gum tree or eucalyptus plant, which belongs in the Myrtaceae family.

The indoor variety of eucalyptus or Eucalyptus gunnii may grow 12 to 18 inches tall a year when planted in a pot. 

The eucalyptus plant prefers well-draining soil. Provide six daily hours of sunlight at the very least from a south-facing window. Water the plant often, and when the top third of the soil begins to dry out, water again. 

If you can’t get your hands on a eucalyptus tree, you can also buy eucalyptus oil and use that. Apply the oil to strips of fabric rather than the houseplant itself and then place the fabric strips where you see flies the most. This method is slower but it works.

Mix Lemon and Cloves

From your indoor citrus tree, take a lemon or two. You can also buy lemons at your grocery store almost year ‘round. Split your lemons in half. 

Next, you need cloves. These flower buds come from the Syzygium aromaticum tree in the Myrtaceae family.

Clove trees aren’t the easiest to grow, especially indoors, as you need to provide wet and hot conditions. You can always buy cloves at the grocery store as well.

When you have what you need, sprinkle a huge quantity of cloves per each lemon half, about 20 to 25 cloves. Then, put the lemon halves out around your indoor garden. Flies despise the aromatic smell of cloves, especially houseflies.

I’ve found using lemon and cloves to be a great way to get flies to avoid the area .  

Lure Flies in with Apple Cider Vinegar, Then Trap Them

Unlike cloves, flies love apple cider vinegar, so use that to your advantage. Find an empty, unused glass jar around the house and fill it with apple cider vinegar. Then, make a funnel of paper that’s wide enough for flies to get in.

Leave the jar out somewhere easily accessible for the flies. They’ll enter the paper funnel and get stuck, dying in the jar. 

If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use other fly attractants in the same way, such as meat, fruit, wine, molasses, or honey.

Add a Venus Flytrap to Your Indoor Garden

The Venus flytrap or Dionaea muscipula is considered carnivorous, meaning it’ll eat your flies. A member of the Droseraceae family, the Venus flytrap comes from the United States’ subtropical wetlands.

You can add a Venus flytrap to your indoor garden, but you want to maintain moist potting mix and water the houseplant with distilled water only.

Insects can act as fertilizer for the Venus flytrap, so you can skip the stuff you usually feed your plants. The standard indoor temperature of your home or office should suffice.

You do need to tend to your Venus flytrap occasionally, removing traps or leaves if they blacken.

Then, just sit back and let the Venus flytrap take care of fly removal. The plant will be satiated, your home will be fly-free, and everyone wins.  

Combine Dish Soap and Apple Cider Vinegar

For a quick fix that will surely get rid of flies, find a glass, squirt a couple of dollops of liquid dish soap, and then add apple cider vinegar, roughly an inch of the stuff.

Rip off some plastic wrap and put it over the top of the glass, attaching a rubber band around the glass to hold the plastic wrap in place.Use a toothpick or a fork to make holes in the plastic wrap.

Again, since flies like apple cider vinegar, they’ll willingly enter your trap, not knowing it’ll be their death. The slick dish soap prevents the flies from being able to escape.

Fly Spray And Plants: Related Questions

Will Raid kill houseplants?

Okay, so you know from this article that fly spray in general around your plants is harmful and can kill them. What about Raid? This insecticide contains allethrin, a type of synthetic pyrethroid, as well as permethrin, prallethrin, and tetramethrin. 

According to the brand that produces Raid, SC Johnson, your houseplants and outdoor plants are supposed to be unharmed if you use Raid around them. That said, SC Johnson does recommend proper use to spare your plants.

If you want to take your chances, that’s fine, but I really wouldn’t advise it. Any chemicals sprayed on or near your houseplants can’t be good for their long-term health.

Why do my indoor plants have flies?

If you’ve noticed more flies in your home or office since you started an indoor garden, that’s not a coincidence. Small flies like fungus gnats find great appeal in your plant’s decaying materials as well as the moisture of your potting soil.

The gnats will make a home in the soil, laying eggs and increasing the spread of flies.

By reducing how much moisture is in your plant’s pot at any one time (unless the plant needs very moist conditions), that should lessen your quantities of fungus gnats. 

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