Basil: Why It Works to Repel Flies (And How to Use It)

close up of basil

What can be more annoying than having a fly buzz around your home? They are attracted to food, garbage, and light. It seems impossible to get rid of them, but thankfully it’s not! In this article we’ll dive into how you can use basil and other easy methods to keep them away.

Basil can repel flies because they detest its fragrant smell! The scent exuded from basil is highly effective in deterring flies. You can use basil to repel flies by placing it in various areas throughout your house such as near your food or near your garbage cans. 

If you are ready to learn all about how you can maximize basil and other scent’s effects on those pesky flies, then please keep reading! 

* This post contains affiliate links.

What Is Basil?

Alright, let’s start from the beginning. What exactly is basil?

Basil is a natural herb that grows from the ground that is commonly used in cooking. It has a scent that is quite strong and that most people find very pleasant. Basil is commonly used to enhance the flavor and taste of food. It is often found on top of pasta or mixed in with a delicious bowl of salad. Yum!

But, thankfully for us, its strong scent can repel flies as well.

So How Exactly Do You Repel Flies Using Basil?

basil aka Thai basil or sweet basil plant (scientific name Ocimum basilicum)

We have established that basil is a useful and beneficial herb to humans, so why exactly do flies hate it so much?

While most people tend to love basil for its fragrance and taste, flies just can not stand its smell!

There are many ways to use basil to get rid of those annoying flies.

Get a basil plant and place it around your food. Basil plants are easy to take care of and in just a few days and you will notice that flies have not come near your produce or food! Cool, right?

You can also get basil leaves and put them around your garbage cans or plant them outside near your garden and crops, both areas which are high traffic for attracting flies.

Be sure to take very good care of the basil plants and leaves. Watering them consistently, trimming them, and providing support and care will help keep the plants stronger.

If the basil plants are strong and healthy, they will have fantastic longevity and provide you with the support in repelling flies for a long time.

Who doesn’t love a gift that just keeps giving?

Use Basil Oil For a Stronger Fly Deterrent

Now, while the basil plant itself does give off quite the strong smell, it’s still a whole plant. The source of the smell comes from the oil within the leaves itself.

You can get a quality basil oil, like Cliganic Organic Basil Essential Oil, a plastic spray bottle, and some water to create your own fly repelling basil spray!

For dilution, you can get 4 ounces of water for every 15-30 drops of essential oil. Then, go ahead and spray where you need to keep flies away!

Does Basil Repel Other Pests?

Not only does basil repel flies, but it can be very effective in repelling other pests as well, especially ones that you find as intrusive as flies.

Aren’t mosquitos so exhausting? Walking into your house after a night sitting outside in the summer heat and finding your arm covered in mosquito bites is not a pleasant experience.

Well, I have some great news for you!

Basil will repel mosquitoes in the same way it repels flies as they also can not stand its smell!

You can use basil to deter mosquitoes in the same way you used it to deter flies. Get some basil plants and place them in the areas you frequently see mosquitoes. 

Usually, these areas are near lights or screen doors. Not only will the mosquitoes stop coming to your house, but you can enjoy the wonderful scent of basil as well!

That sounds like a win-win situation for everyone! Well, not the flies or mosquitoes…

Alternative Ways To Repel Flies

While basil is fantastic for getting rid of those flies and keeping them away, there are additional methods you can use that will also repel flies. Let’s go over some of the most popular and effective ways you can do this.

Other Herbs Can Be Used to Repel Flies

Believe it or not, there are other herbs flies also detest the smell of. Let’s take a look at some of them!

Flies Are Repelled By Mint

Do you like mint? Well, most people do! If you don’t like mint though, you’re not alone. Flies also hate the smell of mint!

Get a hold of some mint leaves and place them around the frequented areas where you often hear flies buzzing. This is essentially the same way you would use basil to repel flies. 

You can crush the mint leaves and leave them in bowls or, if you so desire, you can even get a small mint plant.

Lavender Will Keep the Flies Away

Beautiful blooming lavender field on summer day, closeup

Lavender is so often used in soaps, shampoo, conditioner, perfumes, and colognes. While for us it may enhance the smell we carry throughout the day, for flies the smell is repugnant.

If you have a garden or an outdoor area, you can grow lavender or buy a small lavender plant to deter flies from coming closer.

Or you can get dried lavender and, in much the same way you used the mint, place it in small containers around your windows, screen doors, and garbage.

Other Smells That Also Work as Fantastic Fly Repellents: Citronella Candles And Natural Oils 

Just like basil, mint, and lavender, there are other scents that may be popular for people but not for flies. 

I recommend a fantastic product like the Repel Insect Repellent Citronella Candle. Why do I recommend it? Well, it smells great and is popularly used to repel flies as well as other insects and pests!

Place this candle near the areas flies frequent, especially outdoors near your garbage bin or near your garden. If you often use an outdoor grill, you can place the candle close to that so you can grill food in peace without flies buzzing around.

Once you light this citronella candle, the smell will last up to 40 hours which is plenty of time to get rid of all those flies! So no need to worry about lighting the candle all the time. It has great longevity.

Tea Tree Essential Oil is another fantastic product you can buy online. It is often used not only for its wonderful smell but to get rid of flies and other pests.

One of the best ways to use tea tree essential oil is to find some old rags or cloth you are no longer using, soak them in this oil, and lay them around outside so you can deter flies.

Try it out and see if it works for you! I recommend trying both products and figuring out which suits you and your needs better. You can read through the reviews and learn about how others found them to be useful as well.

You can also find natural oils and put them in spray bottles. Mix them up with water and then get to work spraying the smells around your house (if you enjoy the smell) and outside.

This is also a great way to repel flies. Don’t you think so too?

If you’re interested, you can read our full guide on the scents that flies hate here!

Shining Lights to Get Rid of Those Flies

There are few things better than an evening spent relaxing under the lights with your loved ones… And there are few things worse than a bunch of flies coming to spoil the evening. 

Did you know that flies are attracted to bright lights? It’s true! They are interested in the shiny effects of the lights and will fly towards them.

The Katchy Indoor Insect Trap is a great product to use in times like these. But how exactly does it work?

The Katchy Indoor Insect Trap has an ultraviolet light that ensnares flies. Basically, flies, along with other insects, see the ultraviolet light and think, “Wow, that’s nice and shiny!” Or in the case of A Bug’s Life, “I can’t help it! It’s so beautiful!”.

When they get close to the Katchy Indoor Insect Trap, they get stuck on the sticky surface. While this is very effective, if you rather be more gentle to the flies, then using basil or another herb is a great way to go for you.

Store-Bought Fly Repellents That Are Easy to Use

basil growing in a wooden tub next to other aromatic plants

If you would rather purchase a product that is known to repel flies and opt not to use an oil or herb, there are some useful items you can buy online that will deliver to your house in no time.

One such product is the Quickbayt Fly Bait. These are little pellets that interest and attract flies.

Some people who use the Quickbayt Fly Bait like to put it on some old pet food and place this in bowls outside. The flies will instantly be attracted to the bait and then you can easily dispose of them. 

If you are interested in other products, I suggest an item called the Golden Malrin. What exactly is the Golden Malrin? Well, let’s take a look.

The Golden Malrin are small pellets that are similar to the Quickbayt Fly Bait. The way you can use the Golden Malrin effectively is to place it around the areas you often find flies buzzing.

When the flies smell and find the pellets, they will try to eat them but then will fall to the floor due to its strong effect. Spreading the pellets around is sure to work because flies will flock to them no matter where they usually are in your garden or backyard.

Give these products a try and let me know if it works out well for you! I sure hope it does and am confident they can help you out.

Can Basil Be Used to Repel Flies? Wrapping it Up!

It is time to say goodbye and good riddance to those flies once and for all! 

I am so glad you came to Pest Pointers and took the time to read through this blog post about basil and repelling flies.

Just to make sure you can retain all the information, let’s break it down in a quick digest format:

  • Yes, basil is awesome to use when you want to get rid of flies!
    • Get basil plants that you find at your local nursery or even grocery store. Put them around your house and garden.
    • Get basil leaves, crush them, and place them in small bowls, Tupperware, or containers around the areas you frequently find flies.
    • Do not forget to enjoy the smell yourself!
  • Remember that other herbs are also fantastic to use!
    • Lavender and mint are wonderful for these purposes.
    • In the same way you would use basil, you can get small plants or you can crush the leaves and place them in small containers around your house
    • Try it out! You also get the added benefit of enjoying the beautiful smells around your house and garden.
  • Essential Oils and citronella candles
    • You will want to get ahold of citronella candles like the one mentioned earlier in the article. Place this around the populated areas where the flies are commonly found.
    • You can buy some natural oils and soak them in rags. Place those rags around outside. Watch those flies disappear!
  • Store-bought products
    • If you rather a product does the job for you, then you can easily buy a few popularly used items that do the trick.
    • Take a look at the links provided above. You can purchase the products directly from these links.
    • Once they arrive at your door, use them as soon as you can to get rid of those flies for good!

Thank you so much for reading this article and for visiting Pest Pointers. We always appreciate you stopping by and hope that our tips prove to be effective for you and your needs.

Take care and see you next time!


Moon, R. D. (2019). Muscid flies (Muscidae). In Medical and veterinary entomology (pp. 345-368). Academic Press.

Fareham Borough Council. Flies, maggots, and bin smells.

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. Controlling Houseflies.

Rozendaal, J. A. (1997). Vector control: methods for use by individuals and communities. World Health Organization.

Lachance, S., & Grange, G. (2014). Repellent effectiveness of seven plant essential oils, sunflower oil and natural insecticides against horn flies on pastured dairy cows and heifers. Medical and veterinary entomology, 28(2), 193-200.

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