Repelling Flies With Peppermint: Here’s How to Do It


Fly on window screen, closeup

There’s nothing worse than hosting a party or having an intimate dinner with some friends or family, then you notice little specks flying all over the room. Flies… and lots of them, and they seem to just multiply once you notice them! 

As a general rule, flies have a very good sense of smell that they use to find food sources. Peppermint plant and essential oil is a natural way to repel flies from your home, indoors and outdoors. You can create a spray, apply it to candles, or plant it if you have the knack for gardening.

We will talk about how it is important to get rid of flies in and around your home, as well as go into how to use peppermint to keep them away! Let’s dive in! 

How Do Flies Get In Your House In The First Place? 

Believe it or not, flies live everywhere humans do. They have a great sense of smell and use it to find their next meal and possibly protection for their eggs, whether it be your plants, food, or even your pets’ feces (gross, I know). There is no shortage of ways that flies could make themselves at home in YOUR home. 

Open Doors or Windows

One of the most common ways, for starters, is that these little guys can simply sneak their way into your home through an open door or window, and you’re none the wiser until you notice more of them buzzing around your kitchen. Your home, and around it, smells pretty good to a fly, especially around dinner time. 

Moist Areas and Drains 

Depending on the species of fly, these unwelcome guests can get into your homes by other means. Drain flies like to make your drain pipes and other dark, moist and wet areas their home. 

Some flies also like to lay their eggs in damp soil, such as garden beds or potted plants. Overwatered plants attract flies as well. 

As you can see, flies like damp areas next to a food source…

Window Screens, Holes, and Gaps in Home

Flies can find their way through gaps in damaged window screens, holes or spaces around pipes, and possibly through the foundation of your home. Sometimes fruit flies hitch a ride on produce from the grocery store as well. 

Not to skeeve you out too much, but flies can pretty much live in and anywhere in your house. They live anywhere humans do, but don’t worry! We will show you how to use peppermint to repel these little buggers (pun intended), as well as other ways just in case you are unable to use peppermint in your home!  

Why Is It Important to Get Rid of Flies? 

Flies, though we are all quite used to them, especially those of us on farmland with farm animals, are not the best-winged critters to have around. Even at a fair or carnival, flies are just a part of life. 

Home-fly on green leaf isolated on white

But they are also a nuisance! They can cause harm to your living space and outdoor plants, for the gardeners out there.  

As we now know, flies look for nice damp, dark, moist places. The females like to lay their eggs in these conditions. When their babies hatch they have enough food and protection to grow and multiply. 

Adult flies also tend to regurgitate and defecate on animal and human food. YUCK!  

Fruit flies like to lay their eggs in your produce, which is also an ideal place for their young to survive once they hatch. 

That being said, let’s talk about how peppermint repels them and what we can do to deter them! 

Does Peppermint Repel Flies?

Simple answer, yes. Flies really dislike the smell of peppermint. It acts as an extreme irritant to the flies so they tend to avoid peppermint if they smell it. 

Close up of beautiful fresh mint growing in the garden

In a study conducted by nature.com, researchers discovered that when given the choice between a candle wick with juice and a candle wick with juice and peppermint oil, all the flies chose the wick with just the juice and stayed away from the peppermint wick. 

Fun fact, stick bugs spray a substance that smells like peppermint to ward off predators. The predators HATE the smell and will leave the stick bug alone once they come in contact with the substance. 

In another study found in the 2009 issue of Veterinary Parasitology, researchers discovered that peppermint oils significantly reduced the number of lice on buffalos in Egypt 3-9 days after application. 

Though lice are different from flies, this just shows that peppermint can help with a variety of other insect species, which we will get to in a bit.

Now, let’s talk more about how peppermint can help against flies, as well as about how to make your own repellent or where you can purchase some. 

How To Use Peppermint To Repel Flies

As we read above, flies really do not like the strong smell of peppermint. The essential oil form can be used in a few different ways to help repel these flying pests, regardless of how they invaded your home in the first place.

Also, if you’re interested in our full list of scents to repel flies, you can read our top 8 scents that flies hate here.

Spray Peppermint Oil

Make your own spray! In a spray bottle, combine water with a few drops of peppermint essential oil. Shake it up well and spray around your counters, sinks, bathtub, and any area that flies might be hanging out.

Rubbing alcohol is a great substitute for the water solution as well. It will bind better with the peppermint oil in the spray bottle. 

Reapply every few days. The smell will hopefully encourage the flies to move out! 

Just be careful before spraying on fabrics, as some may not take to the spray well. Always double-check and test a spot before spraying on surfaces you are unsure of. 

Plant Peppermit

If you are unable to spray it, another simple way to use peppermint to deter flies is to plant it! For those of us with a green thumb, this is a great way to repel flies as well as keep a fresh stock of peppermint in your garden. 

Beats going to the store all the time! 

If you don’t have a garden, planting peppermint in pots and placing them in high foot traffic entries to your home is a great alternative too! Plant in areas near entries to deter them from even being tempted to see what you are serving for dinner! Window boxes also work since flies could sneak in through a small hole in the screen. 

Light Peppermint in a Candle

In the study above we learned that researchers used candles with drops of peppermint essential oils to repel flies and other insects. This method of deterring flies is a great alternative to citronella candles, which are used outdoors.  

Simply add a few drops to the wick of the candle and light it! Not only does it smell great to you, but it smells bad to the flies! You can place these anywhere in your home in your problem areas, such as the kitchen or bathroom, or even on your windowsill! 

If you have children or pets, be sure to put the candles in areas inaccessible to them. 

What Other Insects And Pests Does Peppermint Repel?

Oriental fruit fly
Oriental fruit fly

Peppermint helps not only repel flies but several other pests. The smell drives most insects crazy so if you are treating your fly problem with peppermint, chances are you are helping deter other insects as well. 

Other pests peppermint can help repel include the following, but is not limited to:

  • Ants
  • Cockroaches
  • Bed bugs
  • Spiders
  • Moths
  • Stink bugs
  • Fruit flies
  • Wasps
  • And more! 

Other Solutions To Repel and Prevent Flies

Though we have learned that the essential oil peppermint and peppermint plants can be a great deterrent to the flies in and around your home, there are other preventative measures we can also take to reduce their prominence around your property.

You can read some more in-depth tips by reading our guide on keeping fruit flies away from your garbage here.

Reduce Moisture

We mentioned before how flies like to make themselves at home in moist dark areas, which include drain pipes. A great way to avoid this is to clean often and make sure you keep these areas as dry as possible. 

In high-humidity areas, a dehumidifier is a great way to try and reduce this moisture they love so much. 

Clean Often

Remember, flies can smell very well and are attracted to spills and messes that could prove to be an easy meal. Be sure to clean high-traffic areas frequently, such as the kitchen countertops, floors, tables, and living spaces. The smell of the cleaning solutions can deter them. 

Be sure to clean spills or crumbs as well. 

Make It Hard For Them To Get To Your Food

Store your food well so flies will have a heck of a time getting to it. A lot of us, myself included, leave fruit and other foods that do not need to be refrigerated out on the counter or table for easy access. Well, this is irresistible to fruit flies. 

To prevent them from using your apples and bananas as their personal buffet, eat the fruit promptly and also store the fruit somewhere where they cannot get to it. 

One way is to meal prep and refrigerate fruit, if possible. For the foods we can’t refrigerate, such as bananas, the best thing to do is eat them on time. Or make banana bread! 

If I am too busy right away, which I often am, I peel and freeze the overly ripe bananas to make the bread later! Just take them out when ready, let them thaw, and bake away! They usually keep for about a month in the freezer. 

Keep Your Trash SECURE

Flies love trash. We’ve all seen flies swarming around trash cans and dumpsters for an easy meal. Plus the aroma is quite pungent to us, let alone a hungry fly and its friends. 

Keep your trash secure and clean the trash bins often to deter flies. There are a variety of air-tight trash cans you can get at almost any home goods store. 

Get Rid of Standing Water

Remove, if possible, any source of standing water. This is a safe place for some female flies to potentially lay their eggs, and grow even more flies. Some types of fly eggs can hatch within 2 to 3 days after the female lays them. 

According to an article in the Floriculture Indiana journal, shore flies can have a generation cycle of 15 to 20 days! One female can lay up to 500 eggs! That’s a lot of flies! 

Empty any standing buckets of water or pools of water around your property to prevent these pests from multiplying!

Fruit flies primarily breed in damp places. You can learn more about the things that fruit flies are attracted to here.

Alternate Ways of Deterring and Repelling Flies 

If peppermint plants or essential oil sprays are not for you, there are several other ways you can repel flies. 

There are a variety of safe and easy-to-use products that will help you with your fly problem if you are unable to use peppermint around your home. 

Fly Paper

Barns and farmhouses are a common place we find flies. They are attracted to the farm animal manure and smell. A great way to catch these flies is to hang strips of flypaper around the farmhouse. 

Catchmaster Sticky Fly Trap Ribbon is great to use and they are easy to install. Just be sure you do not hang them in high-traffic areas. I speak from experience when I say these things are STICKY! And you don’t want them getting caught in your hair! 

Electronic Zappers

Next up, the Bug Zapper Indoor and Outdoor. This handy product is great for gatherings or campfires. Just place it near you and let it do the work for you! It not only protects against flies, but moths, bees, mosquitos, and more! 

Alternative Sprays

Some alternative sprays come in concentrate, where you can just add water. Some come ready to spray! One of our favorites? Mighty Mint 8oz Insect and Pest Control Peppermint Oil made with natural peppermint oil.

Other Essential Oils and Herbs to Repel Flies

Herbs and oils such as lavender, basil, and lemongrass are also effective in repelling flies and other insect pests around your home. Some you might have in your garden already! 

I caution you though that some of these can be harmful to pets. In particular, cats are sensitive to lavender so avoid this herb if you have feline friends! 

Call A Professional!

Always consult a professional if your fly problem is more than just a small problem. They might have other recommendations or strategies to help get rid of them.

Let’s Recap! 

I threw a lot of info at you, so let’s recap! 

We learned that flies can reproduce quickly and like moist places with an abundant food source. These places can include farmlands and barns, kitchens, bathrooms, and even damp and wet-saturated soils. 

One way to help repel them is using their smell to our advantage with peppermint, a scent that they hate! Spray it or plant it around areas where you have noticed flies. 

If peppermint isn’t an option, there are plenty of alternative tactics to help repel these annoying winged pests, as well as repel other pests that could be problematic around your property. 

Last but not least, you can use a combination of these methods to solve your pest problem. Several tools are better than just one! 

References

Geden, C. J. (2012). Status of biopesticides for control of house flies. Journal of Biopesticides, 5, 1-11.

Renkema, J. M., Wright, D., Buitenhuis, R., Hallett, R. H. (2016). Plant essential oils and potassium metabisulfite as repellents for Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Nature.com Scientific Reports, 6(21432), 1-10.

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).

Griffith, A. (1908). The Life History of House-Flies. Public Health, 21, 122-127.

Richardson, C. H. (1917). The response of the house-fly to certain foods and their fermentation products. Journal of Economic Entomology, 10(1), 102-109.

Cloyd, R. A. (1994). Shore Flies. Floriculture Indiana, 8(3), 4-5.

Khater, H. F., Ramadan, M. Y., El-Madawy, R. S. (2009). Lousicidal, ovicidal and repellent efficacy of some essential oils against lice and flies infesting water buffaloes in Egypt. Veterinary Parasitology, 164(2-4), 257-266.

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