24 Smells that Attract Flies Like Magnets

© iStock.com/PattayaPhotography

Written by Nina Phillips

Published: May 27, 2024

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Flies are an unpleasant part of life. They can quickly make your home feel dirty and gross, or ruin a fun outdoor adventure. There are many articles out there that talk about how to keep away flies. However, knowing what attracts flies is also important if you want to keep as many away as possible. After all, you can’t truly get rid of flies without figuring out what’s attracting them.

This list below covers 24 of the smells that flies like most. Most of them you may know, like trash and rotting food. However, there are probably several on there that you might not realize are attracting these annoying pests into their home.

Keep reading to learn what smells attract flies, and which ones you might want to keep far away from your home to keep flies as far away as possible from your home, yard, and relaxing adventure outside.

1. Carcasses

Bird sparrow killed by car on road. Dead bird lies on the asphalt. Wounded sparrow on the pavement. Animal protection and respect for nature.

Dead animals are unpleasant for everyone.


Hopefully, you don’t have any rotting bodies near your home, but if you are getting a lot of flies all of a sudden, it may be a good idea to go and check to see if a poor animal has died on your property

2. Grease

Grease has a strong smell that’s reminiscent of old food.


Fryers and old grease should be carefully cleaned up and removed from your property to keep away bugs, flies especially.

3. Flowers

Close up of Spurred Snapdragon flowers in bloom

Everyone loves



©PT Hamilton/Shutterstock.com

Usually, you associate flies with nasty smells, but any sort of strong odor can attract these pesky insects. After all, flies are pollinators.

4. Fecal Matter

These smells may be unpleasant for you but flies love them.


If you have pets, you likely have piles of poop in and around your home, or even in bags in your trash.

5. Manure

manure and vegetable garden

It has a strong, pungent odor that flies love.

©filippo giuliani/Shutterstock.com

Since manure is just a special kind of fecal matter, it makes sense that this is also on the list.

6. Decaying Plants

Dead and dry plants in pots on the wall.

Dead plants are ugly and attract the wrong insects, especially if they are in moist soil.

©KYNA STUDIO/Shutterstock.com

it’s not only dead animals that attract flies, but decaying plants too

7. Rotting Food

Spoiled fruits and vegetables. Food loss and Food Waste on the Farm or a market

Try to cover up the smell or seal off your trash container so the odor doesn’t escape.


Flies like trash, so if you have an area in or around your home where the trash is a little more fragrant, then you’re going to attract these pesky bugs.

8. Leaves

Collection of fallen leaves. Raking autumn leaves from the lawn on the lawn in the autumn park. Using a rake to clear fallen leaves. The concept of volunteering, seasonal gardening.

Wet, decomposing leaves are the perfect habitat for flies to reproduce.


Piles of leaves can be a breeding ground for flies, especially if you live in a more humid environment.

9. Fruit Trees

fruit of a european spindle tree

Strong-smelling fruits when ripe may also attract flies.

©Katja Bruckner/Shutterstock.com

If you don’t manage to harvest all of your fruit on time, rotting fruit on the ground will attract flies.

10. Food

human-grade food

Food of any kind, fresh or rotten attracts flies.

©Unknown author / Public Domain - Original / License

When you’re leaving food out to cool or even making a tasty recipe, you’re likely to see more flies buzzing around

11. Candles

Candles often have strong smells that are fruity or floral.


The smell of these kinds of candles can attract flies who think food is nearby.

12. Fermented Foods

Mess of fermented cheese or cottage cheese or greek yogurt on waffle towel to separate it from whey

If you’re working on fermenting your own foods, like beer, kombucha, or sourdough bread, be prepared for flies.

©Tatiana Foxy/iStock via Getty Images

The strong yeasty smell that these ferments produce will bring all the flies to your kitchen.

13. Standing Water

A forest of cypress trees growing in a swamp.

All water, when left to stand for a long time, gets a swampy sort of smell to it.

©Marianne Pfeil/iStock via Getty Images

This smell attracts flies who lay their eggs in standing water full of bacteria and algae.

14. Perfume

Close up view of a tree branch with Lime, several white flowers and a perfume glass bottle containing yellow liquid of Lime (Citrus aurantiifolia) extract. Empty label for branding mockup

Surprisingly, flies like perfume almost as much as you do, unless it’s citrusy.

©Light Stock/Shutterstock.com

Like candles, perfume sometimes has a strong floral or fruity odor that can attract flies.

15. Deodorants

Beautiful young woman using deodorant under armpit in bathroom during morning time. Girl applying deodorant roll on after shower on underarms. Girl using antiperspirant roll-on at home after waking up

Mild smells will work better than a strong floral smell.

©Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com

Go for more mild or less fruity and floral smells with your deodorants if you want to keep flies away.

16. Body Odor

closeup asian female got problem of armpit sweat which makes her smelly stinky odor and uncomfortable

On the opposite side of the spectrum, body odor is probably worse than wearing a fruity deodorant, as far as flies.


Body odor has a sharp, pungent smell that’s attractive to flies, so make sure you bathe regularly and put on deodorant.

17. Animal Food

Theme of dog's feed

It’s not just your food that flies are attracted to.

©alex_ugalek/iStock via Getty Images

Dog food, cat food, and livestock feed are all attractive to flies, especially the wet stuff that has a strong smell.

18. Sugary Foods and Drinks

Opened soda can with wasp, yellowjacket, view from above

Bees, wasps, and flies are all attracted to soda.

©A. Kiro/Shutterstock.com

If you make a mess, such as spilling a soda or dropping cookie crumbs on the floor, you’re going to see a lot more flies in the area.

19. Scummy Water

Drain in stainless steel sink with a mesh lid close-up

Have you ever noticed flies around your drains?


The scummy water that sits around your drain and in the p-trap attracts all sorts of flies and gnats.

20. Vinegar

white vinegar on the wooden table top

Vinegar, also known as

acetic acid

, is another smell flies love.

©focal point/Shutterstock.com

This is because it’s the main product in fermentation, especially in fruit.

21. Grills

Grilling outside is a dangerous game when there are flies around.

©Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.com

The cooking meat, charred bits, and fat drippings are a deadly and irresistible combination for flies.

22. Overwatered Soil

Soil PH and moisture meter for indoor plants

Keep your soil on the dry side to prevent attracting bugs.


Some flies and gnats, like fungus gnats, will often be found around plants that are overatered.

23. Sewage

Draining sewage from pipe into river, pollution rivers and ecology

Sewer water smells gross, and attracts nasty bugs too.

©Dmitriy Prayzel/Shutterstock.com

Obviously, animal poop attracts flies, but sewage smells from toilets, septic tanks, and open sewer valves are also hotspots for lies.

24. Yeast

loaf rye bread and fresh sourdough on whole grain flour in glass jar, yeast-free leaven starter for healthy organic rustic bread, spices are scattered on table, bottom view

Yeast has a strong odor flies love.

©Trofimov Denis/Shutterstock.com

It was already mentioned that yeasty fermentation attracts flies, but there are other yeasts too, such as bacterial yeast on your body, and some tree saps.

Why This Matters

A cut apple has attracted fruit flies to feed on it

If you don’t want bugs, you need to learn what smells to avoid.

©Anne Webber/Shutterstock.com

Most people don’t want to attract flies, so why does knowing what does matter? Well, once you’re aware of what’s causing so many flies in your home, you can work on elimitiating those problems.

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About the Author

Nina is a writer at A-Z Animals, FIDIS Travel, and Giant Freakin Robot. Her focus is on wildlife, national parks, and the environment. She has been writing about animals for over three years. Nina holds a Bachelor's in Conservation Biology, which she uses when talking about animals and their natural habitats. In her free time, Nina also enjoys working on writing her novels and short stories. As a resident of Colorado, Nina enjoys getting out in nature, traveling, and watching snow hit the mountains from her enclosed porch.

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