Natural Black Fly Repellents

Black fly season has come early this year thanks to the warm weather we’ve been enjoying. Traditional chemical repellents don’t do the trick and are full of harmful toxins, but there are some natural ways to beat back those little beasties.

Watch the video here or follow the recipes below;

Greenmoxie’s Shoo Fly! Black Fly Repellent Recipe

Mix 2 cups water with 1/4 cup of vinegar and 10 drops of spearmint, mint or peppermint essential oils. Spray pets, family members, strollers, clothing and around doors and windows.

Lemon Multi-purpose Pest Control Spray

Mix together 1/2 cup of warm water, with 10 drops of lemon juice, and witch hazel in a spray bottle and spritz it around your doorways, windowsills, and anywhere else you tend to see flies. Witch hazel is a plant extract that is commonly used as an astringent, skin toner, and natural remedy which has been shown to be effective against a variety of pests, including flies. You can also apply this spray on your skin for protection from biting insects. If you don’t have witch hazel on hand, try using vinegar instead. This natural pest control spray will not only help keep flies away but will also leave your home smelling fresh and clean.

Wear the right clothing

When in doubt, ask yourself: Would Indiana Jones wear this? Always opt for white, beige, khaki or other lightly colored clothing as biting bugs are attracted to dark hues.

A great way to prevent getting bitten is to cover up. If it’s very warm, opt for cool organic cottons and other breathable fabrics.

Minty Goodness

Mint, spearmint and peppermint are great deterrents for black flies. Growing your own mint is really easy. Add a couple of drops of cocktail gardenessential oil to your body lotion, to the final rinse of your laundry or just dab some on your clothing. Applying essential oils directly to skin may cause reactions or rashes.

You can also make a minty spray that combines not only a minty smell, but the power of vinegar too.

Lemon eucalyptus oil 

This product from down under is also a great way to keep those flies at bay. Dab some on clothing or add 10 to 15 drops to a cup of water in a bottle and spray the flies away. Other oils you can buy  include sassafras, pennyroyal, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon balm and cedar.

Notoriously itchy and achy, black fly bites are the pits. You can mitigate some of the discomfort by applying aloe vera or witch hazel to affected areas.

Snake problems? See snake repellents here.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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20 thoughts on “Natural Black Fly Repellents

  1. Pingback: Natural Black Fly Repellents | Going Green Space

  2. Lynn Walbridge

    Years ago there was a spray that my mother used to spray on the window screens and it would let the air in, but NOT the black flies (or here in VT we call them no see ems) looking for a recipe with essential oils that would work the same way.

    1. Joy

      No-see-ums are not the same as black flies. black flies are much larger. We have both in Maine, and you have both in Vermont, and they are not the same–though just as pestiferous, and are related, but no-see-ums are in the family Ceratopogonidae and black flies are in the family Simuliidae, both in the Order Diptera.

  3. Tom Fix

    Vanilla extract works wonders for black flies, and lasts for hours. I just dampen a paper towel with water, pour on the vanilla (the real stuff) and wipe down. It lasts for hours and smell good too.

  4. Sher Crone

    I get eaten alive by black flies, mosquitoes anything that sucks your blood. I love to be outside but I suffer for it every time.
    Please help, I must have sweet blood because everyone else is bite free.

      1. Joy Metcalf

        Just a caution about using essential oils: Citrus oils can cause major sensitization in the sun. If you’re going to use any citrus oil, including orange, spray it on your clothing and not on your skin if you’ll be out in the sun.

    1. Joy Metcalf

      I put apple cider vinegar in the water for my livestock and it seems to help quite a bit.

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  6. Claudine Galitello

    I am going to try your black fly spray recipe. What type of vinegar, white, Apple or some other.
    Thank yoi

    1. Nikki Fotheringham Post author

      Hi Claudine. I use white vinegar – thanks for reading it and do try it. I use it non-stop in the spring to great effect.

      1. Claudine Galitello

        Thanks for the response. This is going to be my first encounter with black flies. Will let you know how it works.

  7. Pingback: How to Stop Black Fly Bites from Itching – sustainmalaysia

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