8 Scents That Flies Hate (and How to Use Them)


Close Up Shot of Fly Zoomed in With Text "8 Scents Flies Hate" Over Top

No one wants to have swarms of flies in their yard or home, and if you have been burdened by some flying critters then you are likely looking for effective ways to repel them! Luckily, there are many natural and effective ways that you can repel flies with ease.

Flies have a strong sense of smell, and they use to find accessible food sources. You can take advantage of this trait by using scents they dislike, such as peppermint, basil, pine, rosemary, rue, lavender, eucalyptus, and bay leaves.

Overall, it’s extremely helpful to know why you should repel flies and how you can keep flies away effectively long term in addition to the scents that repel flies. In this article, we’ll be giving you a full guide on how you can repel flies naturally and how you can keep them away. Let’s get to it!

Why You Should Repel Flies

Before we dive into all of the scents that flies hate and will keep them out of your yard, it is important to explain the reasons why you should repel flies. Although it is obvious that swarms of flies are incredibly annoying, they can also do damage to plants and even make fruits and vegetables inedible.

Simply put, there’s NO reason to let flies ruin the hard work you’ve put into your garden, or annoy the heck out of you while sitting on your patio!

Flies Can Damage Plants

There are many different types of flies out there, and most of them do damage to a variety of plants. Possibly the most notable species of fly that is known to do direct damage to plants is the Whitefly. Whiteflies suck the juices out of a plant’s fruits and leaves, which causes them to yellow and shrivel up. Unfortunately, if there is a large swarm of whiteflies in your yard or garden, plants can quickly become so drained that they die.

Although whitefly infestations can do an extensive amount of damage to plants, other species of flies can damage plants as well. You will likely need to be especially cautious about a fly infestation if you have a lot of fruit and vegetable plants and trees in your yard or garden.

Swarms of Flies Can Quickly Become a Nuisance

In addition to flies damaging various types of plant life, having swarms of flies around can quickly become a nuisance. This is especially true if many flies find their way into your home or frequented outdoor areas such as around patios and swimming pools. Kitchens, areas with plants, and untreated standing water can lead to swarms of flies if you are not careful and make the steps to repel them.

Most Common Flies You May Be Trying To Repel

Some of the common flies that you may be aiming to repel are:

  • Gnats
  • Little black fly
  • Horsefly
  • Common house fly
  • Moth flies
  • Fruit flies
  • Blow flies
  • Deer flies
  • Whiteflies

As we have previously mentioned, flies have a very strong sense of smell, and they use this sense to find their food sources. Luckily, YOU can use a fly’s strong sense of smell to their advantage when it comes to repelling flies.

There are many smells that flies hate, and we will be describing the benefits of the most notable scents that repel flies. These include peppermint, basil, pine, rosemary, rue, lavender, eucalyptus, and bay leaves.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Flies Hate Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is yet another popular, natural, and effective way to repel flies. Like lavender, you have the option to use peppermint in many different ways. Planting peppermint in your garden and around high trafficked outdoor areas is a great way to protect vulnerable plants and keep swarms of flies away from your home.

However, peppermint oil can do a marvelous job at repelling flies from the inside of your home as well.

In one study published by nature.com, researchers found that several common essential oils, geranium, peppermint, citronella, and thyme-oil, significantly repelled both male and female fruit flies from cotton wicks containing raspberry juice.

Interestingly enough, the researchers found that specifically, peppermint oil was particularly effective in repelling fruit flies for up to 6 days post-application.

Now, results of course will vary based on the concentration levels you’re using, but with essential oils – a little goes a long way.

When applying, it’s always best to go with a market-tested product rather than try to make a solution yourself, in my opinion. This will give you the best chance at success because others have already used and reviewed the specific product concentrations.

Wondercide’s Peppermint Indoor Pest Control Spray is one of the more highly regarded indoor deterrents on the market.

It contains an essential oil base of cedarwood, peppermint, and sesame oils and will help to repel other insects in addition to flies. Again, try something market tested with a peppermint scent base, whatever that may be, and use it as directed to get the BEST results possible.

You also have the option to use dried and ground-up peppermint leaves in a pouch around places such as beds, couches, and other seating areas. If you have pets, stick to keeping the grounds AWAY from within their reach.

Grinding peppermint leaves however will provide an extraordinarily fresh smell, to boot! The only downfall is you’ll have to use more leaves to get a stronger scent, as the peppermint plant itself is not as strongly scented as a natural oil-based extraction.

Basil Naturally Repels Flies

Both the basil plant and the basil essential oil have been known to repel flies naturally and effectively. Planting basil in your garden and around other plants can ward flies away from plants that are vulnerable such as vegetable plants and fruit trees.

In addition to this, basil smells great and is an excellent way to repel flies from outdoor seating areas! You even have the option to have a small basil plant in indoor areas as well such as on coffee tables and kitchen counters.

Basil also comes in essential oil, which can be very useful when it comes to spritzing some common problem areas when it comes to flies such as around windows. Like all essential oils on this list, if you do use an essential oil it should be diluted properly as a carrier oil.

Also like lavender and peppermint, you could use contained, dried, and ground-up basil leaves as a fly repellent as a great way to keep flies away from small indoor areas!

Pine Oil Keeps Flies Away

Pine oil, similar to peppermint essential oil, is one of the universal oils that works well to repel a multitude of insects and critters alike.

In a study published by Environmental Entomology, researchers tested the effectiveness of pine oil in deterring the common housefly (Musca Domestica Linnaeus.)

Macro Shot Black House Fly on Wall

Researchers took a honey-based solution and mixed it with a concentration of pine oil. Long story short, the study found that when approaching the pine oil-treated honey-based solution, 95% of flies kept at least 6mm away from the pine oil-treated honey.

I find this quite interesting because while 6mm does not seem like a lot, flies go for ANYTHING sweet. So, the fact that researchers found that only 5% of approaching flies actually went close enough to investigate honey.

If you’ve ever spilled juice, soda, fruit, or sauce on a table near flies, you’ll know that they truly love to land on anything with a high sugar content.

One viable fly repelling option is to use Pine Sol as a floor cleaner! Pine Sol contains actual pine essential oil, so instead of using a diluted essential oil blend, you could just keep your floor squeaky clean with pine sol and keep flies away in the process.

Rosemary Effectively Deters Flies

While most research regarding rosemary as a fly deterrent and repellent is based upon mosquitoes and not other flies, there’s a common consensus that the strong, bold scent of rosemary is an incredibly effective deterrent for flies, as their senses easily pick up on rosemary as they approach it.

The anti-sweet scent of rosemary can be used either as a plant or as an essential oil blend to heighten the strong smell of rosemary.

If you go the plant route, you’ll be able to use the herb once its fully grown as well in your favorite dishes!

For essential oil concentrates, Wondercide’s Rosemary Indoor Pest Control Spray (similar to the peppermint Wondercide spray above) is a preformulated blend with an essential oil base of cedarwood, rosemary, and sesame essential oils and comes highly regarded to repel flies and crawling insects alike.

Use Rue As a Fly Deterrent

Rue is yet another herb that is great at repelling flies both in its natural form and as an essential oil. Rue plants have been reported to be quite effective at repelling flies and can be used near plants, seating areas, and food.

Additionally, rue can be great when planted out in the garden, in a planter on the patio, and even in a small planter in the kitchen!

Rue also comes in essential oil, which is great for treating areas that would be difficult to treat otherwise such as curtains, window sills, and other surfaces by using a diluted spray mixture. However, it may be useful to see what effect a rue plant gets you in its natural form to repel flies!

Lavender Repels Flies

Lavender is a great scent to use when it comes to repelling flies because it is both effective at its job and it smells great to us humans. This scent also provides the luxury of having the option to employ it in many different ways.

A very common and easy way to use lavender to repel flies is to have lavender plants growing in your yard. This can be especially helpful when planted around patios, decks, swimming pools, and other high traffic outdoor areas. You can also mix these plants in with your vulnerable vegetation to offer these plants some protection.

For indoor spaces, you can use lavender to repel flies in several ways. The first common way that people use lavender to repel flies inside is by spritzing lavender oil on and around problem areas such as in kitchens and around windows.

You can use lavender oil straight out of the bottle or dilute it by mixing it with a carrier oil. Many people also use lavender oil in an oil diffuser or grind up dried lavender leaves and put them in a pouch around beds and seating areas.

Eucalyptus Oil Repels Flies

Eucalyptus oil is yet another essential oil that is a great natural repellent for flies. You can use this essential oil both right out of the bottle or diluted.

The scent of eucalyptus is one that infuriates the senses of a fly, and thus, deters them from the source.

Eucalyptus Oil (again, used diluted here) is great for reaching difficult places to normally treat that attract flies such as around windows, inside of pantries, and doorways where flies may enter your home.

If you’re looking for a personal fly repellent as opposed to one you may use around the home, take a peakski at REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, as it’s formulated using oil obtained from the leaves of the Eucalyptus citriodora tree.

Plant or Use Bay Leaves to Deter Flies

They can add a bit of flavor to your favorite dish AND repel flies. A win-win!

You can use bay leaves as a natural fly repellent by grinding them up and sprinkling them around areas that attract flies and better yet, this method can be used both indoors and outdoors to boot!

However, you may want to contain the ground bay leaves in a mesh, closable bag outdoors. This way the ground bay leaves will not be carried away with the wind. You can also use this method when placing ground bay leaves around areas like beds, chairs, couches, and other areas where people tend to sit, lie down, and relax where flies are likely to both you.

Additionally, if you’re dealing with flies in the kitchen, specifically fruit flies, you can plant bay leaves in your house leave a potted plant near your window!

Where to Use These Scents to Keep Flies Away

In short, these scents that flies hate are great to use both inside and outside. Depending on which scent is best for your specific situation, you should ALWAYS do more research and consult a professional regarding usage if necessary.

For instance, if you’d like to use lavender oil in a specific use case, research proper usage from the manufacturer regarding dilution and application, as every product is different based on the concentrations.

When used properly, these scents are great for repelling flies around areas like:

  • Patios
  • Decks
  • Porches
  • Outdoor seating areas
  • Around swimming pools
  • Around plants and gardens
  • In greenrooms and greenhouses
  • Kitchens and pantries
  • Other indoor areas

Based on what product, oil or plant you get, you can plant in or spray these areas according to the manufacturers directions and keep flies away!

Long Term Solutions For Keeping Flies Away

Although the above scents are great at repelling flies, you will likely need to make some other changes in order to effectively keep flies away in the long term.

House Fly Musca domestica resting on wild flower

For example, if you have a lot of lavender in your yard, but your garbage can is wide open then you are likely to still get flies, regardless of how strong the lavender is.

Therefore it is important to make some long term solutions for keeping flies away such as keeping your yard clean, keeping your garbage cans closed, removing standing water from your yard, and setting up fly traps when needed

Here are the long-term solutions that you will need to make in order to keep flies away effectively!

Keep Your Yard Clean

In order for the scents on our list to effectively repel flies, you will likely also need to keep your yard and other areas of your home clean. This includes eliminating any garbage, rotting fruits and vegetables, and keeping food covered if it is going to be outside of a refrigerator or freezer for a while.

In addition to this, it is also a good idea to keep piles of leaves and other plant debris out of your yard and eliminate spots where flies can potentially breed!

Keep Garbage Cans Closed

Most flies are attracted to garbage cans. This is because the smell of rotting fruits, vegetables, and even meat and dairy products attracts flies.

In addition to this, the warm, wet, and dark environment of a garbage can is an ideal place for a female fly to lay her eggs and have her larvae develop.

Therefore, it is crucial that you remember to keep all garbage cans and dumpsters closed when attempting to reduce the number of flies in and around your home. This will reduce the smell that attracts flies and allow the fly repelling scents to do their job.

Remove Standing Water (if Possible)

Some species of flies also spend most of their time in shallow standing water.

Therefore, you will need to have things like puddles and marshy areas taken care of if they just won’t go away on their own. This is, of course, if eliminating this standing water is possible. In areas where eliminating these types of fly harboring environments is impossible, learning how to manage flies in this kind of environment is key.

Set Up Fly Traps

If you have found that you are still getting flies after placing some fly repelling scents around then you may want to invest in some fly traps.

There are many different types of fly traps out there including fly traps that work by trapping flies in sugar water and fly traps that stick flies onto a surface.

In addition to this, there are plants that you can purchase that eat flies such as venus fly traps, and you can also use a bug zapper outdoors. All of these options will eliminate flies, but they will not repel them.

For a homeade fly trap, take a simple glass, pour some juice or soda into a glass with a thin layer of saran wrap overtop and place it on your countertop.

Poke a few holes big enough for the flies your trying to deter to enter (but not too many) and the flies will crawl into the sugary mixture and will be unable to get out.

That’s a Wrap!

There are many scents that flies hate and although these scents are effective at repelling flies, you will likely need to make some other adjustments in order to keep flies away long term.

Doing things like keeping your yard clean, keeping your garbage cans closed, eliminating standing water around your property, and setting up some fly traps will help to keep flies at bay. Using these four tactics along with fly repelling scents will ensure that your yard and home are fly-free.

References

Benelli, G., Pavela, R., Cianfaglione, K., Sender, J., Danuta, U., Maślanko, W., … & Maggi, F. (2020). Ascaridole-rich essential oil from marsh rosemary (Ledum palustre) growing in Poland exerts insecticidal activity on mosquitoes, moths and flies without serious effects on non-target organisms and human cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 138, 111184.

Maganga, Mwandacha E., Gerhard Gries, and Regine Cries. “Repellency of various oils and pine oil constituents to house flies (Diptera: Muscidae).” Environmental Entomology 25, no. 5 (1996): 1182-1187.

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

Waliwitiya, R., Kennedy, C. J., & Lowenberger, C. A. (2009). Larvicidal and oviposition‐altering activity of monoterpenoids, trans‐anithole and rosemary oil to the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae). Pest Management Science: formerly Pesticide Science, 65(3), 241-248.

Lee, S. H., Do, H. S., & Min, K. J. (2015). Effects of essential oil from Hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa, on physiology and behavior of flies. PloS one, 10(12), e0143450.

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