Keep Carrot Fly at Bay with Netting & Companions

Carrot Fly has an annoying habit of ruining the roots, so that instead of pulling up beautiful carrots like the ones pictured, you end up pulling up a sad looking bunch of blemished roots.

What does the Carrot Fly do?

Carrot flies lay their eggs in the soil at the base of the carrot stems (and sometimes parsnips). When the eggs hatch, the larvae bury down into the soil so that they can start feeding on the carrot roots. To begin with, the damage is minimal, but as the carrots grow and mature the larvae will tunnel through the roots causing brown, rotten looking patches.

This damage can go unnoticed, and often you won’t know anything is wrong until either the leaves start to discolour, or you pull up a carrot and see the damage.

How to minimise Carrot Fly damage:

  1. Use companion plants to mask the scent of the carrots. Plant strong smelling allium plants like onions, leeks, or chives near your carrots to hide the scent. A good way of doing this is to alternate rows of carrots with rows of onions.
  2. Protect the rows with insect mesh. Draping horticultural fleece or making an enviromesh cloche tunnel to go over your carrots offers the best barrier. It won’t be completely fly-proof, but it will minimise the chances of the pests getting to your crop.
  3. Be careful with the foliage of carrot tops. Carrot flies are attracted by the smell of the leaves, and the scent gets stronger when the leaves are bruised or disturbed. When you are out in the garden, try not to disturb the leaves so as to minimise this.