Gardener’s Corner: Wrestling With Carrot Fly

Carrot flies, as every gardener knows, are evil. They’re so small you can’t see them and when they attack they decimate your crop, drilling tiny holes in practically every carrot. And, to make matters worse, they have superpowers – an enormous nose that can smell a carrot from two miles away.

We’ve tried the usual countermeasures. Planting onions with the carrots to mask the carroty smell. Didn’t work. Watering the carrot bed every time we thinned it out to make sure any carroty odour was immediately washed into the soil. Didn’t work. Last year we tried one of the new carrot fly resistant varieties. We even followed the seed company’s advice to plant a non-resistant variety around them as a barrier. Not only didn’t that work but the non-resistant variety had less carrot fly damage than the resistant carrots.

The only thing we’ve found that does work is … the wall.

According to experts the carrot fly can only fly a few inches above the ground – presumably because of the weight of its giant nose. So, if you ring your carrot bed with a wall – we push slates into the soil – the carrot fly will be stopped.

The wall should be at least 18 inches high as tests have shown that’s the maximum height a carrot fly can fly at. I toyed with the idea of adding a small ditch in front of the wall. After all, with all those flies rushing in from miles away driven wild by the smell of carrots wouldn’t they smash into the wall at speed? And create a pile of comatose bodies at the base of the wall which, over time, would reduce the height of the wall?

My ditch idea was vetoed, as was my moat, and the motte and bailey. But Shelagh liked the idea of the wall. Even more so when it worked. It takes a bit of time to build and you need a lot of slates but until the carrot fly learns how to build a siege engine, it’s the only way to save your carrots.


Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novel – Resonance (Baen) – can be downloaded for free here. More information about his other work can be found on his  BVC bookshelf .

Coming this month: Nous Sommes Anglais true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.

Recently released from Book View PressInternational Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a  glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth. Forget  Bruce Willis and his team of miners. Send for the kitties!

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Gardener’s Corner: Wrestling With Carrot Fly — 9 Comments

  1. Lol, now I imagine a bunch of carrot flies building a trebuchet that could kick several of them over the wall. 🙂

  2. As a person whose daylilies have been neatly beheaded by deer, I can only agree.

  3. So true. I’m fighting a war of attrition with a family of voles for more years that I care to count. The only thing that decimates them for some time is to get a professional ferret hunter, but even the ferrets don’t find all of the lot.

  4. I have four cats. For a period of time they were presenting me with a vole a day. I think they have been more or less exterminated by now, and new ones do not move in. How smart do you have to be, to avoid a yard patrolled by four cats?

  5. Lol yes, four cats would see the end of those pests. But I’m a single who travels a lot and won’t keep pets for that reason – else I’d probably have some snakes. But you can’t find anyone to feed those, and setting them free for a week or so to live off voles is not a good idea. 😉

  6. One way to protect your blooms from deer that I’ve heard is to contact your local zoo and ask if you can have a bucket of lion droppings. You then spread the droppings around the area you want to protect and the deer smell predator and keep away.

    Though it might attract other lions:)

  7. Nothing really works with deer; they will eat cast-iron porch railings if they’re hungry enough. Rats with hooves!

  8. When we lived in Devon, we had a deer park with 35 red deer. We managed to get the adults to respect our electric fencing but the calves snuck under and ate all our specimen trees.

    Then 200+ Canada Geese flew in and ate all our water lillies and aquatics we’d planted in our lake.