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Flies are essential to the ecosystem, but understandably, we might not want them constantly buzzing around us. Flies can make outdoor activities less enjoyable, especially when they swarm around food and drinks. Moreover, flies that find their way into your home and linger in the kitchen can be bothersome and may even spread bacteria and diseases.

Fortunately, there are many natural compounds that can effectively repel flies. If you’re tired of being bothered by flies, consider trying one of these natural fly repellents.

1. Basil

basin plant in pot
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Basil plants produce a pungent aroma that is remarkably effective at deterring many different types of flies. In fact, basil is considered an effective fly repellent and is being trialed as a natural alternative to chemical pesticides! To get the best results, grow this summer herb in pots around your outdoor seating area and near open doorways and windows.

2. Lavender

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Lavender plants may smell delightful, but their pleasant aroma can help repel moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes. Plant lavender in the garden to keep outdoor insects at bay, and use dried lavender sachets indoors as an effective pest control solution.

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3. Cloves & Citrus Fruit

Freshly squeezed lemon.
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Both cloves and citrus fruit can help to repel flies, so combine the two, and you’ve got a powerful fly repellent! Take any citrus fruit – lemons are a good option – and stud the rind with cloves to release the pungent aroma. Avoid using sweeter citrus fruits such as oranges, which may attract ants and fruit flies.

4. Marigolds

marigold plant
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The leaves and flowers of marigold plants emit a distinctive smell that deters flies, mosquitoes, and other pests. Plant marigolds around your garden to create a natural barrier, and place them in pots on garden tables and near doorways and windows. Marigolds also help attract beneficial insects that can help keep garden pests at bay.

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5. Fans

cooling, freshness and heat concept - close up of fan outdoors
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On a hot summer day, just the simple act of putting some fans around your outdoor seating area can be enough to keep flies away! Many airborne insects are weak fliers that struggle in strong air currents, leading them to move to a calmer location.

6. Rosemary

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Rosemary has long been used as a fly repellent, and can be used fresh, dried, or as an essential oil. The leaves of rosemary contain a substance called borneol that has been shown to have a repellent effect on insects including flies and mosquitoes. Plant rosemary in your garden and pick sprigs to use inside the house.

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7. Citronella

Fresh citronella leaves on wooden background
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Citronella is an essential oil made from distilling the compounds of different types of lemongrass. Its potent smell is highly effective at repelling different types of flying insects, including mosquitoes and biting flies. To keep flies at bay, you can use citronella in oil burners and candles in your yard and near open windows.

8. Garlic

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The strong odor of garlic deters many different flying insects. Place crushed garlic cloves around your outdoor seating areas or mix them with diluted water to make a potent garlic spray.

9. Essential Oil Spray

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Homemade essential oil spray is a great way to deter flies inside and outside the home. Combine a mix of essential oils such as tea tree, citronella, eucalyptus, and lavender with water and a bit of witch hazel or alcohol and spray this mixture around to repel flies. Take care of soft furnishings, as some oils may leave a slight stain.

10. Plastic Water Bags

Water bag to repel flies and mosquitos.
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The light refracting through a clear plastic bag filled with water confuses the vision of flying insects, encouraging them to move on elsewhere. Hang water-filled bags above your outdoor seating areas, and you should find that the number of flying insects has been greatly reduced.

11. Geraniums

Geranium plants
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Geranium plants contain a substance called citronellol, which is particularly effective against houseflies. Plant containers filled with geraniums around their homes to keep houseflies at bay.

12. Vinegar and Dish Soap Trap

gnat and fruit fly vinegar trap
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In some situations, the only way to rid ourselves of flying insects is to trap them. Mix apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap in a shallow dish and place the trap away from your seating area. The vinegar attracts flies, while the soap breaks the surface tension, causing them to drown.

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13. Eucalyptus

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Eucalyptus oil isn’t just good for respiratory illnesses. It is also a highly effective fly repellent. Use eucalyptus oil in a diffuser for long-lasting results.

14. Catnip

Woman rubbing a catnip leaf with her finger
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Catnip contains nepetalactone, a strong repellent effective against mosquitoes and flies. Catnip is easy to grow and can be dried for use indoors. Remember that if you have cats, they will also love to nestle in your catnip plants!

15. Homemade Fly Repellent Lotion

Bottles of essential oil with frankincense, lavender, thyme and other fresh herbs.
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Mix essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) and apply it to the skin to repel flies when outdoors. Remember that essential oils are very potent – just a few drops are enough to be effective and do a skin patch test first to check for sensitivity.

16. Vanilla

Citronella candles used as mosquito repellant
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Vanilla is one of the more pleasant fly-repellent aromas you can use. A mix of vanilla and citronella candles creates a pleasing fragrance that will minimize flying insects inside and outside your home.

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cinnamon on houseplant
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