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How to Keep Compost From Attracting Bugs, Insects, and Pests

It goes without saying that composting creates an environment that attracts bugs, insects, and other pests. A compost bin is dark, damp, and full of waste – the perfect habitat for many of these creatures. While many bugs are a natural part of the decomposition process and actually enhance this situation, some bugs are detrimental and simply annoying. 

So what can be done to keep compost from attracting bugs insects and pests? There is a range of techniques to manage bug problems, including shredding organic material before putting it in your compost, managing water content, and burying waste. 

The best thing to remember is that some bugs are valued in the decomposition process and actually make the compost better. The trick is being able to differentiate between harmful pests and helpful ones. We take a look at the problems bugs cause, the advantages of pests throughout the composting process, and the steps you can take to manage bugs and insects around your compost. We will also take a look at different bugs, insects, and pests so you can learn to differentiate between those that are harmful versus helpful. 

What Problems Do Bugs, Insects, and Pests Cause When They Get Into Compost?

 In most cases, bugs, insects, and pests are only a problem because we perceive them to be creepy and dirty. In reality, they play an important role in the food chain, enhance soil quality, and don’t cause too much trouble. That being said, there are certain times when bugs are a problem for home composting. 

Bugs, insects and other pests can cause the following problems with composting: 

They can be generally annoying 

The last thing any of us want is a gathering place for insects. We want to be able to walk around our yards in peace, not avoiding swarms of insects that have collected around our pile of rotting waste. 

There’s no getting around the fact that composts attract bugs, insects, and other pests. This means that if we want to create a home compost, we will have to deal with them at some stage. Some bugs don’t actually impact the decaying process, but they are annoying and don’t create a nice feel in the environment. 

They can carry diseases 

A problem associated with the gathering of insects and other pests is the spreading of diseases. Insects like house flies provide zero benefit for the compost process, yet they are often ridden with different diseases that can be transferred to people. If you want to avoid this spread of diseases, you will want to keep your bug problem under control. 

They can spread to your plants 

There are some bugs and insects, like slugs, sowbugs, and white grubs, that will help to break down the organic matter in your compost. This can help make the material decompose faster, meaning your compost will be ready sooner. 

The problem occurs when these bugs inevitably escape the dark corners of the compost. At some stage, they are likely to go exploring for other food sources, and the chances are high that this will be the closest garden bed. 

Before you know it, these pests will have infiltrated your garden beds and vegetable patch, wreaking havoc on these poor plants. The only solution is to manage the bugs around your compost before they have the chance to spread throughout your yard. 

They can impact your ability to use your compost 

Swarms of insects can make it difficult to get to your compost. Think about it – if you are faced with a big swarm of bugs every time you want to deposit some food scraps, are you going to want to keep doing it? Probably not. For some, a collection of bugs can be life-threatening. 

People with allergic reactions to particular bugs may be prevented from using the compost because it becomes too dangerous to do so. Even without allergies, nobody wants to be bitten by bugs just for disposing of their organic waste in an environmentally-responsible manner

Other bugs, such as ants, provide no value to the composting process whatsoever but are likely to set up home in your compost bin. If ants are not kept under control it can be hard to open the compost bin without getting covered in these crawling creatures. 

How Can I Keep Compost From Attracting Bugs, Insects, and Pests? 

To avoid these problems, the best thing you can do is monitor the situation and take action before it gets out of control. Implement the following strategies to keep your compost from attracting bugs insects and pests. 

Shred all material before putting it in the compost 

Organic matter that has been cut and shredded into small pieces will decompose more quickly. The quicker this happens, the less likely it is to attract bugs and insects. These pests are looking for food, but if the material decomposes quickly, there will be nothing for them to eat, and they will stay away from your compost. 

Manage the moisture level of the compost 

Don’t allow your compost to become too wet. It needs to be damp in order to work, as this creates the heat and conditions necessary for decomposition, but too much water will attract a lot of bugs. Begin with a wet compost and then continue to monitor this dampness over time. The compost should have the same wetness as a sponge that has had the water squeezed out, so only add more water as it is required. 

Pick out white, c-shaped grubs 

Most of these bugs are harmless. However, some have a real appetite for vegetables and may find their way to your garden. There is unlikely to be a huge number of these in your compost, so the best way to deal with them is to pick them out with your hands and destroy them. 

Bury waste in dirt 

Wet, fresh waste is significantly attractive to insects and other pests. Always ensure this organic material is covered thoroughly by dirt. Bury it right in so that none is uncovered. Otherwise, insects will be sure to hunt it out. Green matter, such as food scraps, can be particularly attractive to flies. 

If it is sitting on top, they will seek out this food source and set up camp within your compost. They will likely lay eggs in this location as there is a healthy food source available. If this waste is buried, pests are less likely to seek it out, and you will reduce the number of flies hanging in and around your compost. 

Choose the right compost bin 

The type of compost bin you choose can impact the severity of pest infestations. Select one that is sealed to try and discourage bugs and insects from hunting down food and taking up residency. Remember that bugs can get in very small holes, so you may need to do some research to find a compost bin that is right for you. 

Never add meat or pet droppings to your compost 

Meat and pet dropping should never be added to your compost as they simply do not make good plant food. The other reason is that this is a surefire way to attract bugs, insects, and other pests. 

The meat and droppings will have creatures from all over the place coming to your compost. Funnily enough, corncobs also seem to result in the same problem, although these are perfectly suitable for your compost. To avoid the bugs, just make sure they are buried properly in the soil. 

Regularly aerate your compost 

Mix and turn your compost material regularly to ensure oxygen is circulating. This will speed up the entire decomposition process, as air can now get to the center rather than just the edges. Make sure the pile is always level and does not build up in the center. If this happens, the middle of the pile will get warm while the outside remains cooler. The aim is to get the entire pile of material decomposing at the same rate. 

Change materials 

In many cases, certain organic matter attracts certain types of insects. If you are finding that your compost is being swarmed by a particular type of fly or insect, it’s time to mix things up. Insects are often attracted to green compost, which is food scraps and other fresh organic matter. 

Start adding brown organic matter to discourage them from coming to your compost and reduce their overall presence. Brown matter includes things like dried leaves, sawdust, twigs, and sticks, hay, plain paper that has not been printed on, cardboard with no wax coating, and fabric. 

Adapt your compost until it consists of 50-80% of brown matter. This way, insects will be put off your compost and navigate elsewhere for food. Always make sure the top layer consists solely of brown material to prevent bug and insect infestations. 

Splash your compost with boiling water 

If all else fails, you might need to boil a pot of water and pour this onto your compost. The hot water will kill insects and larvae that are residing in your compost. Place the lid on the compost bin as soon as you pour the water, locking the heat within the container. You can even pour some water on the outside of the bin, running it down the sides, to create heat from the exterior as well. 

Vacuum up the bugs and insects 

Another way to kill and remove pests in your compost is to vacuum them up. Identify where flies or other bugs are grouping together and use a vacuum to remove them. You can do this by moving the vacuum head around the space. 

Do not vacuum any of the compost material or earthworms, as these creatures play an important role in the decomposition of the compost material. Make sure you empty your vacuum bag as this is likely to be filled with lots of dead flies or bugs. This process will need to be repeated several times a day until the problem is under control. 

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on March 24, 2020.

What Types of Bugs, Insects, and Pests Are Likely to Be Attracted to Compost?

The dark, damp environment of a home compost will attract many types of bugs, insects, and pests. Many of these are harmless, while others may cause issues. Some of the bugs you can expect to see around your compost are: 


These include sowbugs, woodlice, and pillbugs. Isopods don’t typically eat the organic matter in your compost. However, they like environments that are moist and dark, so they are likely to take up residency here. 

Flies and beetles 

These insects are likely to be temporary residents of your compost, setting up home base only when there is a good food supply such as fresh organic waste. The larvae of fruit flies and black soldier flies will eat food waste such as vegetable scraps and coffee grounds. 

Fruit flies are likely to be irritating, especially in warmer weather, when they will hover around you compost in big swarms. On the other hand, black soldier flies should be encouraged. They do not carry any disease, will help to eat the material (especially coffee grounds), and will prevent maggots from existing in your compost. 


Mainly there for the dark home, slugs will likely take refuge in your compost. While they won’t cause too much trouble here, they may cause problems if they make their way to your garden beds. Slugs especially like strawberries and lettuce, so it is best to control their existence before they find their way to your veggie patch. 


While ants don’t negatively impact the composting process, they may make it difficult to access your compost. They can pose an issue for people with allergies. 


Like ants, bees don’t enhance or harm the composting process, but they are likely to hang around the site. Given that they also bite, their presence can become problematic. 

White grubs 

While these grubs are pretty harmless in your compost, they are likely to destroy your garden when they grow up. They will eat your lawn and plants, so it’s best to deal with them before they become adults. 

Are There Any Benefits of Bugs, Insects and Pests in Compost?

While there are a range of reasons why the existence of bugs, insects and pests in and around compost are unsettling, there are also a number of benefits that they provide. The following are advantages of having bugs, insects and pests in your compost. 

Bugs and insects assist in aerating the compost 

Compost decomposes best when it has lots of oxygen in it. Bugs, insects, and other pests eat through the organic material and burrow through the soil, helping to create space through the compost. This allows rooms for air to travel through the compost, enhancing the conditions for decomposition. 

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Bugs and insects create warmth in the compost 

As bugs and insects eat through the material, they create heat. This is especially beneficial for cold piles of compost that are lacking heat for the decomposition process. A warmer compost is likely to decompose more quickly, so the bugs and insects actually aid in this process. 

Bugs and insects increase the fungus and bacteria in the compost 

When bugs and insects live inside the compost, they conduct a range of daily activities. These include eating, growing, and excreting waste. All of the above result in fungus and bacteria being produced. The levels of fungus and bacteria grow as the existence of these pests grow. This is a big advantage as fungus and bacteria both play an important role in the decomposition process that creates compost. 

Bugs and insects provide food for birds 

The bugs and insects attracted to your compost can actually improve the wildlife in your garden as they provide good food for birds. You may notice birds beginning to hang around the compost as they will be able to pick up something to eat. 

Having bugs, insects, and pests in your compost can seem like a problem, but it is actually contributing to the food chain of your garden. You will attract more birds as they will have a reliable food source. Despite it sometimes looking otherwise, a compost with lots of bugs is actually the sign of a healthy garden. 

Final Thoughts 

Bugs, insects, and pests can present a problem for composting, although the main issue is that they are creepy and annoying. Generally speaking, bugs in compost indicate a healthy environment; however, they can also cause a number of problems. 

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on March 24, 2020.

If you want to avoid pest problems that result in the spreading of diseases and ruined garden beds, it is best to keep bugs and insects under control. There is a range of strategies to do this, including burying wet waste, shredding all material before it is added to the compost, and regularly aerating the mixture.