Herbs to Keep Flies Away with SIMPLE DIY hacks

Herbs to Keep Flies Away with SIMPLE DIY hacks

This article continues the discussion of natural remedies that will repel flies.

We had previously discussed specific plants that will either kill or repel house and outdoor flies, keeping us and the environment safe from such disease carrying, airborne pests.

In this article, we will discuss some common herbs that will offer similar relief and protection.

That being said, these remedies really do work! So keep reading as there are a few surprises in there that I think you’ll like…

Common Chemicals Found in Herbs That Repel Flies

There are a large number of herbs that possess compounds which serve to either repel flies, or are natural insecticides which kill them.

These are better to use than man-made chemical insecticides like DEET or naturally found ones like Boric Powder, since they are not as toxic (in fact, many of the herbs included below are edible and regularly used in cooking) and thus can be used without the fear of causing harm to small children and pets.

The main chemicals often found in herbs that repel and/or kill flies include the following:

1.  Limonene and d-limonene – Oil derived from sweet oranges, sweet lemons and other citrus plants contains limonene, which is fatal to flies.

2.  Geraniol – Geraniol is a monoterpenoid and an alcohol. It is the main component of rose oil, palmarosa oil and citronella oil. Geraniol occurring naturally in plants can be five times as effective as citronella plants in terms of repelling flies.

3.  Linalool – Linalool is a naturally occurring terpene found in many flowers and spice plants. It produces a pleasant smell for humans but acts as a fly repellent.

Herbs that contain the above compounds are often mixed in with other ingredients that either attract flies (with a view to killing them) or repel them to create natural, DIY insecticides that can be used around the house or patio.

Some Common Characteristics – Toxicity, Care and Availability

Almost all of the herbs mentioned below are freely available in nurseries, gardening centers at major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Costco and from online retailers such as Amazon.

They are also typically hardy and easy to care for – and will grow either outdoors or indoors in potted fashion.

If there are any exceptions (e.g. herbs that are especially difficult to find or needing special care, we will make note of it under the specific entry).

Most of the herbs are safe for humans and pets, as mentioned above. As such, they are often used close to vegetables and other herbs, and can be planted around areas where food is being prepared or served (e.g. backdoor patios or barbecue areas).

18 Herbs That Repel Flies

Many of the herbs mentioned below actively repel flies, while others are actually toxic to them.

1.  Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum), also called Sweet Basil, is rich in essential oils, tannins and other minerals, including geraniol and limonene. It is a strong insect repellent that can be planted around the house or garden, or indoors.

Dried basil will continue to repel flies and mosquitoes strongly due to its smell and chemical composition. Other varieties of the herb, such as African Basil (Ocimum gratissimum) are also effective.

2.  Mint

A variety of mints are a natural repellent to flies due to their strong smell. Peppermint oil, for example, is used as a repellent, often by itself but equally frequently mixed in with other powerful toxins such as lemon oil and clove oil.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Beefsteak-mint (Perilla frutescens) and Narrow-leaf Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) all contain limonene and linalool, deadly toxins to flies.

3.  Lavender

The Common or English Lavender (Lavendola angustifolia) plant is a pleasant and colorful addition to any garden, but it is also a powerful fly repellent due to high concentrations of limonene and linalool found in its flowers.

4.  Rosemary

Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is also a powerful insect repellent that is often used as a companion plant in vegetable gardens. The strong scent of rosemary makes it useful, plus it contains geraniol and linalool.

Dried rosemary is equally effective, as well as rosemary scented water sprays or essential oils – care should be taken to not too much in a solution, otherwise the scent can be overpowering indoors.

5.  Dill

Common or Garden Dill (Anethum graveolens) is rich is limonene and a strong repellent to flies. Dill is a valued companion plant in the garden from ancient times due to its ability to keep vegetables and other plants free from pests.

In crushed or concentrated form, all parts of the plant can be even more effective. Dill essential oils or seeds are sometimes used as insect repellents, as are crushed dried dill.

6.  Cardamom

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), also known as Ceylon Cardamom or Chester Cardamom, contains the fly repellents and toxins geraniol and linalool. It is used in essential oils.

Cardamom seeds broken out of their husks will also work, either in whole or ground powder form.

7.  Fennel

Common fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), also known as Roman Fennel, Bitter Fennel, Sweet Fennel or Aniseed-Weed, has strong concentrations of limonene and linalool and can be used as a fly repellent.

Dried and crushed fennel may be more effective. In more concentrated form, such as essential oils, it acts as a toxin to flies.

8.  Marjoram

Marjorum (Oreganum majorna), originally from Asia, is now commonly found in North America. The herb repels flies due to its smell from a large number of terpenines, and also Rosmarinic-acid, in it.

It also contains limonene and linalool, toxins to pests. It may be easier to use marjoram as an insecticide when the shoots of the plant are crushed to extract essential oils.

9.  Cloves

Cloves are the flowers of the plant Syzygium aromaticum, native to Indonesia originally but now widely available throughout the world. The strong scent of clove, either fresh or in dried or essential oil form, is a strong fly repellent and insecticide.

The active ingredient of cloves is eugenol, which acts as both a toxin and a repellent to flies.

10. Oregano

Common oregano (Origanum vulgare) is often planted with garlic and onion in the garden, due to its strong fly and pest repellent characteristics.

It contains limonene and linalool. It can also be used indoors after the parts visible above ground are dried and ground into powder.

11. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa officianlis) is a well-known ingredient in herbal teas. Its strong smell repels flies, plus it can be deadly toxin due to the fact that it contains d-limonene, especially when used in essential oil form.

12. Thyme and Lemon Thyme

Many varieties of thyme, such as Sauce/Spanish Thyme (Thymus zygis, subsp. Sylvestris), Thymus longicaulis and Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus) are fly repellent since they contain geraniol.

Lemon Thyme contains limonene in addition to geraniol, giving it both fly repellent and toxin capability. Lemon Thyme is best used by crushing the leaves to release the essential oils trapped in the leaves and stem.

The Common Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) contains linalool, a natural insecticide.

13. Cinnamon

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) contains a number of compounds that have been found to repel and kill flies, including trans-cinnamaldehyde and linalool. Powdered cinnamon will also work.

To use cinnamon in oil, mix with water and other essential oils. If using cinnamon powder, the best way is to sprinkle over windowsills and baseboards.

14. Black Pepper

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) is extremely repellent to flies due to its strong smell, as is white pepper. In addition, the herb contains limonene and linalool, and is toxic to flies, especially when dried and ground into powder.

15. Coriander

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also known as Cilantro or Chinese Parsley, is an excellent fly repellent and can be a deadly toxin due to the concentration of d-limonene.

The antidote may be more effective when the leaves are crushed to extract the essential oils. Dried coriander, either leaves or ground, may also work.

16. Chinese Giant Hyssop, Hyssop

Chinese Giant Hyssop (Agastache rugosa), also known as Korean Mint, is a medicinal and ornamental plant from Asia that possesses d-limonene, which both repels, and can be lethal to, flies. Hyssop (Hissopus officinalis) also has d-limonene.

17. Sweet Woodruff

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) or Hay Plant has the delicious potpourri fragrance of vanilla, cinnamon and honey, brilliant white colored blossoms and are an extremely potent fly repellent.

Not only would fresh woodruff around your yard work, a few sprinkles of dry woodruff would do wonders inside your house.

18. Catnip, Lesser Calamint

Catnip (Nepata Cataria) or catmint contains geraniol, an extremely powerful insect repellent, as well as monoterpenoid compounds called iridoids, which have proven to be effective against species of outdoor flies such as horn flies.

This plant, originally native to Central Asia, Middle East, southern and eastern Europe and China, has now been naturalized to many other parts of the world including North America.

The Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepata) contains d-limonene, a toxic compound for flies.

In Conclusion …

Between the plants mentioned before, and the herbs here, the homeowner should have a plethora of options to plant, nurture and adopt natural repellents to keep flies away.

Many of the above herbs also contain powerful toxins, some of which may be best extracted and used in the form of either crushed or ground plant parts or as ingredients in essential oils.

They have the advantage of not only being non-toxic, but in most cases, their aromas are pleasant to humans and they will be edible – that’s why they are called herbs in the first place.

If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:

Pest Category






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All the best


Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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