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From my understanding, I tried using vinegar and draw a loop around my meals to prevent attracting the ants. As to prevent the flies, I use another plate to cover my meals. This can be a hard time for cleaning because of the need to clean the plates (that is used to cover the meals) and also the table with the vinegar.

Are there better ways?

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Why dont you just spray an insecticide 30 mins before eating –  Midhat Dec 5 '11 at 7:29
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and a full page of newspaper can cover many plates, instead of covering each one individually –  Midhat Dec 5 '11 at 7:29
    
are you eating outside? –  JoeHobbit Dec 6 '11 at 4:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Another option for covering plates to keep flies away is a mesh net: here's one example I found by using Google to search for flycover food. This won't come into contact with the food, unlike the plate you currently use or the newspaper @AnishaKaul suggests.

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Your link has gone 404-compliant. –  derobert Dec 5 '11 at 17:08
    
@derobert, seems to be a bug with the Stack Exchange URL hacking for Amazon. I'll raise an issue in meta. In the meantime, my Google search term is flycover food. –  Peter Taylor Dec 5 '11 at 17:13
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Assuming you're talking about amazon.com/Coghlans-8623-Fold-Away-Cover/dp/B000FAKT2E ? Amazing it changed the ASIN. –  derobert Dec 5 '11 at 17:22
    
@derobert, for example. –  Peter Taylor Dec 5 '11 at 19:41
    
@derobert Indeed for flies that folding net is better than anything else. :) –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 6 '11 at 3:55

One way to avoid ants and also the vinegar, is to fill a plate (slightly larger than the food vessel) with water and keep the food vessel in that plate.
When the vessel is placed in the plate filled with water, the water will encircle the vessel and thus will tell the ants not to cross the mark.

As for keeping the flies out, the least expensive way is to keep the food vessels together and cover them with a big clean newspaper. You can put paper weights at the end of the newspaper to prevent them from flying as the wind blows.

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You can also try lighting some citronella or lavender candles, the smell of which flies apparently dislike. –  ElendilTheTall Dec 5 '11 at 10:05
    
@ElendilTheTall :) :) The candles are expensive than the newspapers in the place where I live. :) –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 5 '11 at 10:09
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+1 The vessel placed in the plate filled with water is pretty useful. –  Anderson Karu Dec 30 '11 at 4:02
    
@AndersonKaru Happy to hear that. Actually we had bed bugs in our hostel long back, and I kept 4 small steel pots filled with water under the four legs of my bed, and that prevented the bed bugs from creeping back again. :) –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 30 '11 at 4:04

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