Pest Guides

How To Repel Deer Flies

How To Repel Deer Flies

Deer flies can be one of the most annoying things when you are out on an outdoor experience. Yet, one minute you are having an excellent time with your friends and family.

The next thing you know, deer flies are swarming, ricocheting off your skin, and buzzing around your ears. Plus, their nasty bite can be as painful as a bee sting.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ward them off.

Outdoor enthusiasts have different methods of repelling or discouraging deer flies. And in this article, you will learn how to repel deer flies.


Going out outdoors is a fun way to relax your mind and distress. But that would be impossible if deer flies swarm and bite you.

So to prevent that, outdoor enthusiasts have come up with ways to repel them like:

  • Liquid repellents
  • Staying still
  • Wearing light colors
  • Avoiding water sources.

If you want to enjoy your outdoor activities without deer flies swarming and buzzing around you, the methods below should help you.

10 Ways You Can Repel Deer Flies

Deer flies are bloodsucking insects that can be a pest to humans and animals like horses and cattle. They can live in various places. But the common feature these locations have is dampness.

So you’ll typically find them in wetlands, woodlands, or other damp areas.

Deer fly bites are painful. And they can be a vector to a wide range of diseases and parasites like hog cholera, anthrax, and rabbit fever.

But that shouldn’t bother you because below are ten ways you can repel deer flies by outdoor enthusiasts who encounter them.

1. Test Out Liquid Repellents

Liquid Repellant

People are still debating on the best liquid repellent against deer flies. After all, these pests hunt their prey with sight, not scent.

Experts agree that chemical repellents containing DEETs can protect for several hours from deer flies.

So before you buy insect repellents, ensure that it has DEETs. And apply it occasionally when you do some outdoor activities.

Some claim that essential oils like lavender, peppermint, and citronella can drive away deer flies. So it may be worth applying some when you take a trip to the wilderness.

2. Stay Still

Stay Still

This advice may sound like it came from Jurassic Park, but deer flies are attracted to movement. So staying still may let you escape their sight.

It’s hard to imagine staying still when you’re doing outdoor activities. However, you may avoid attracting more of them if you are still from time to time.

3. Go the Distance

Go The Distance

It’s impossible to run faster than deer flies because they are among the fastest-flying insects. But if you keep on walking, running, or biking, you may be able to put some distance to them.

Deer flies can be quite territorial, so if you notice one buzzing and bouncing around your head after walking for about 10 to 15 feet, it may leave you. But, of course, that won’t stop a new fly from biting you.

4. Wear Light Colors

Wear Light Colors

Besides movement, dark colors, specifically blue, can also attract deer flies. That is why deer fly traps will often have blue colors.

Deer flies don’t seem that attracted to light colors or white. So if you are walking in the wilderness, wearing light colors should make you less attractive to deer flies, making walks more enjoyable.

5. Avoid Water Sources

Avoid Water Sources

As was said before, deer flies enjoy being near damp areas. And it’s because of their life cycle. Deer fly larvae start in the mud, typically along the edges of a pond and stream banks or wetland areas.

It will then crawl out to find drier areas to pupate and become an adult. That is why you’ll notice they’ll appear more if you are near water.

So if you are going outside, stay far from damp areas or at least try to.

6. Always Wear a Hat

Wear A Hat

Covering yourself in full clothing should prevent insects from biting you. And wearing a hat is the first thing you must do because deer flies seem more attracted to the back of your head.

One annoying thing deer flies do is burrow inside your hair to bite your scalp. So wearing a hat should block attacks on the top of your head. And if it has a brim, you can also repel flies away from your ears, neck, and face.

7. Make a Sticky Hat

Sticky Hat

It’s not the most fashionable thing to do, but a hat with adhesive will repel deer flies and put them out of commission.

There are plenty available in stores, like Tree Tanglefoot, which you can put on the back of your hat. So when you walk in your garden, you’ll notice 50-60 flies on it.

8. Tape a Fern on Your Hat

Fern On Hat

It sounds sillier than the previous method. However, taping a plant or even a feather on your hat is an old trick that outdoor enthusiasts and boy scouts like to tell other people.

The idea is that deer flies will circle more on the top of your head where the plant is and will be less likely to bite you.

And ferns are plentiful in the wilderness. So it may be a good option if you are low on insect repellent. It may not be a foolproof technique, but it may provide some relief, especially from the buzzing.

9. Do a Dryer Sheet

Dryer Sheet

Some outdoor enthusiasts claim that dryer sheets can repel deer flies because of their strong and soapy smell. However, the application of this method varies because some like to rub dryer sheets on their clothes, while others like to tuck them in their hats.

There are no scientific studies that say dryer sheets can repel deer flies. However, one study claims Bounce dryer sheets are effective repellents against mosquitoes and gnats. So it may be worth trying.

10. Deer Fly Patches

Deer Fly Patches

If dryer sheets are not your thing, you can use deer fly patches instead. You can put these on your hat and clothing to attract deer flies.

Once they land, they’ll get stuck onto the adhesive. And deer fly patches can last up to three days. So you can use them for a long time before throwing them.


It’s hard to enjoy outdoor activities if deer flies swarm and buzz all over you. Fortunately, there are ways to repel them, like liquid repellents, avoiding water areas, or donning dryer sheets on your clothing.

So, if you are going out with your friends and families into the great outdoors, sharing this article with them should help them know how to repel deer flies.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Treat Deer Fly Bites?

If you have a deer fly bite, clean it with soapy water and apply first-aid skin cream to relieve some pain. Ice can also help ease the pain. If you have allergic reactions, drink anti-allergy medication and consult your doctor if the itching does not stop.

Do Deer Flies Carry Disease?

Yes. Some of the diseases they carry are anthrax, rabbit fever, hog cholera, and equine infectious anemia. So if you feel ill and there are plenty of deer flies in your area, set up an appointment with your doctor immediately.

How Long Does a Deer Fly Bite Last?

Depending on the intensity, a deer fly bite can last more than two days. Bites can be painful because of their sharp mouth. So it’s typically not that much of a problem. But if you scratch it too much, you might get a secondary infection.

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