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How to Get Rid of Flies While Camping (10 RVer Tips)

| Updated Sep 16, 2022

Saying “Shoo Fly” doesn't cut it when camping. Here's how to get rid of flies at a campsite, according to your fellow RVers. Even though you might think this is late in the season for flies, turns out some people are still having trouble with them.

Make sure you bookmark this post because what's one major drawback while RVing? The bugs!

Flying insects can be especially annoying; they get right up into your personal space! And in my opinion, flies are the second worst offenders. (Second to mosquitos, of course.)

We have written about how to keep mosquitos and ants away from your RV and campsite. But what about keeping flies at bay? 

Recently, RV Lifestyle member, Veronica, posted a fly-related question in our Facebook group. She asked, “What are your tips to keep flies away from (your) campsite?”

As usual, our members had many excellent ideas to keep these little creatures at bay with almost 200 comments

Most of these suggestions are now on our Amazon list –> Outside the RV – Camping Essentials

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

The Curse of the Black Flies!

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One of my and Jennifer's favorite places to RV is Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Despite the black flies, and boy, are they miserable!

You can see from this video that the flies are serious pests in the area. So, we can definitely relate to having to battle flies while camping.

Now, the flies in the UP are biting black flies. In this article, though, we're going to focus on flies in general. That way, no matter where you're camping, you can battle the flies with the following tips…

How to Get Rid of Flies When Camping

The following are the top suggestions by real RVers on how to get rid of flies at your campsite. Oh, and by the way, you should also check out the Ultimate ‘Bug Off' Shopping List for Your RV.

1. Fans

How to Get Rid of Flies While Camping (10 RVer Tips) good fan

Many commenters touted the effects of using a fan to repel flies. For a fly, flying into a fan's air stream is like a small plane flying into a storm. It's too difficult to fly in it, so it either stays away or is blown away.

Rob, one of our RV Lifestyle followers, uses this approach. He says that he points it to blow across the door from the side. In addition, he mentioned he uses a candle to keep the mosquitos at bay! 

2. DIY Fly Trap

A few members suggested making a DIY fly trap jar and gave similar instructions. One member named Mark calls it the “hot dog fly trap.”

The jar is simple to make. It does not contain any toxic ingredients, making it safe for children and pets. 

To make it, gather a mason jar with a lid, two hotdogs, and syrup. Place the syrup and cut-up hotdogs inside the jar. Then poke holes in the lid that are just big enough to let a fly pass, and tighten the lid to the jar. 

Flies will enter the jar, get stuck in the syrup, and be unable to fly out. 

3. Citronella Candles

This suggestion is what I like to call an “oldie but goody.” That is because Citronella candles have been around for many years. But there is a good reason for that! 

They work!

Citronella candles are an essential oil made from the leaves of the Cymbopogon plant, also known as lemongrass. This scent repels bugs since they do not like the smell. That is why they generally stay away when you burn these candles.

4. DIY Bug Repellent

Many folks responded to Veronica’s question by saying they use Pine Sol to keep bugs away. Most seem to use a 50/50 mixture of water and pine sol. They wipe down surfaces and doors to keep the flies away!

Another RV Lifestyle member, Tim, commented that he has tried a mint cleaner. Similar to pine sol, but the scent is mint. 

He went on to say that he sprayed it around his door, and it appears to be working, despite the fact that he is not far from a dumpster. He no longer has flies near his door trying to enter his RV.

Another member had another DIY repellent suggestion. Will said that orange peels and vinegar in a spray bottle has been a good way to keep the flies away. 

5. Horse Fly Spray

We're talking about fly spray for horses, not spray for horse flies. Although, I suppose it'll still help either way.

Now, keep in mind that this product is made for animals! It's specifically an “insecticide & repellent for use on horses, ponies, foals, dogs, horse barns and stables.” So, don't go spraying your kids with it.

However, it is a good option for spraying around your campsite.

6. Screen Tent

best screen room for camping How to Get Rid of Flies

Another great option is to purchase a screen tent. You can place it over your table or in another sitting area outside. 

Plus, it'll keep more than flies away!

The drawback is that it might obstruct your view of the great outdoors. Or confine you to one area to relax. 

7. Bubble Machine

 Bubble Machine How to Get Rid of Flies

Now, here is a less traditional fly repellent method: a bubble machine. Lisa, one of our followers, said that she saw a video touting this tactic! 

This makes sense because the bubbles distort the fly's vision and confuse them.

But, if the bubbles don't keep away the flies, they will still bring you joy. You might attract other campers to your site and make some friends while camping. So I think it is a win, win! 

As Lisa said, the worst-case scenario is you “make people smile.”

8. Fly Bag

Another option is to purchase fly bags from Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, or (of course) Amazon. 

Fly bags are disposable fly traps made from plastic. They can hang from the edge of your RV or from a nearby tree. 

Fly bags work by attracting flies using color and odor. Once the fly enters the bag, it cannot escape. 

These are great because they are simple to use, and you can toss them after your trip. 

One of our followers named Cari said that she uses fly bags. She went on to say that they “work FAST”! 

9. Bug-A-Salt Beam

Here is another non-traditional fly repellent idea. Spray salt at them! 

While this was posted humorously, I actually know people who have these. Not only do they work, but they turn fly hunting into a sport.

It'll certainly keep your kids or grandkids busy.

10. Electric Fly Swatter

One more suggestion made by some folks is to get an electric fly swatter. This device look like a small electrified tennis racket. 

They work by holding an electric current that kills flying insects instantly when they come near the device. 

The only drawback is that these are handheld devices. They can only kill bugs if you actively use them, which might not be relaxing to you. I would suggest using this in conjunction with one of the other insect repellents included previously on this list. 

The Great Lakes Adventure Guide Bundle
(The Great Lake Shoreline Tour & Upper Peninsula RV Adventure Guide)

How to Get Rid of Flies While Camping (10 RVer Tips) 1

Jennifer and I have been visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for more than three decades. We’ve hiked, photographed, camped, fished, and explored every region and the problem of bugs in the UP is minuscule compared to the joy we experience every time we visit!

Bugs aside, the UP is our favorite place. So much so that we wrote an Adventure Travel Guide on the Upper Peninsula aimed at RVers.

This instantly downloadable ebook is a seven-day guided exploration of the Michigan Upper Peninsula.

We provide a suggested route and itinerary, links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, and the best spots to see along the way.

Then we've bundled it with one of our newest ebooks on the Great Lakes!

The Great Lakes Shoreline Tour — One of our favorite RV trips has been driving the United States side of the five Great Lakes.

It is a trip of over 4,000 miles and takes you to 8 states!

And it’s filled with beautiful vistas, welcoming towns and villages, and fabulous places to camp, hike, and explore.

Both of these ebooks have something for everyone and all it takes is one visit to make it one of your top destinations.

All you need to do is point the RV north and follow our guide to experience the UP like a Yooper and explore The Great Lakes like an explorer. CLICK HERE for more details.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-09-15

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

8 Responses to “How to Get Rid of Flies While Camping (10 RVer Tips)”

August 11, 2023at9:13 pm, Pam Shook said:

Make Grandma’s Fly Spray by using a clean used gallon plastic milk jug. Put an inch of plain vinegar and an inch of plain old fashion dish soap then slowly add water leaving about 2 inches of space. Put the cap on and shake up. Let sit for 24 hours. Put in spray bottle. Safe around kids, food, trash cans and horses. Even used on my ankles. Spray around the door frame or on tables before put the food out. Last about 4 hours. We carried the gallon jug in our horse trailer for at least 3 years and it still worked.


August 12, 2023at9:26 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Sounds like an option we need to try! Thanks for sharing, Pam! Team RV Lifestyle


September 16, 2022at11:21 am, Alan Dambrov said:

I am surprised no one mentioned flypaper. The are effective, cheap and available most everywhere. Have to be careful handling because they are so sticky. HAVE ALWAYS WORKED FOR ME.


September 17, 2022at2:16 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Good suggestion and thanks for adding this to the list! Happy trails – Team RV Lifestyle


September 15, 2022at1:01 pm, Bob Thompson said:

DIY Mosquito
It works for most flies. Mix 1 bottle of stale warm beer with 1 bottle of warm blue mouthwash and 1/2 cup of Epsom salts. Mix thoroughly until a the salt dissolves. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray the foliage in your immediate campsite. Safe for people and pets. Reapply in an hour or two to keep the bugs at bay.


September 16, 2022at9:44 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Hadn’t heard of this. We love homemade solutions! Thanks for sharing, Bob – Team RV Lifestyle


September 15, 2022at9:21 am, Carla Rushing said:

For some reason had way more flys this year. Got a FLY BAG started working as soon as put out. Highly recommend, does smell but really works. Haven’t tried the one for mosquito yet.


September 16, 2022at9:44 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

thanks for the feedback! Those Fly Bags are amazing – Team RV Lifestyle


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