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What Smell Do Flies Hate?

What Smell Do Flies Hate?

Getting stung by a swarm of flies is not anyone’s favorite thing to experience. Aside from the itchiness and possible swelling, flies can bring a multitude of serious damage and negative effects to any human being.

With this, one way to outsmart them is by taking advantage of the flies’ sensitive sense of smell.

The main reason flies have an intense sense of smell that they mainly use it to look for potential food sources.

And when you make them smell something they hate, they are off to find better spots where they don’t feel uncomfortable or disturbed.


You’ll be surprised that most of the scents the flies hate are just sitting in your backyard or on your kitchen counter. This also means it’s easy to think of creative ways to use these scents and repel mosquitoes, flies, and other pests.

  • Flies hate the natural scents of peppermint and pine oil, rosemary, and basil.
  • You can also use herbs like rue and lavender to scare them away.
  • Seasonings like cinnamon, citrus, and cayenne are also on their list of most-hated scents.
  • Other homeowners also prefer apple cider vinegar because flies hate its intense sour smell.

You don’t need to buy expensive or branded mosquito repellent to trigger the flies’ sense of smell. And in this guide, you’ll learn about what scents they hate and how you can use these to deter and keep these pesky pests away.

How Flies Can Detect Various Scents

How Flies Can Detect Various Scents

Like most tiny pests, flies have a great sense of smell that makes it easy for humans to trigger and cause them to escape.

If you’re wondering how they can smell, flies use their antennae to detect various odors. They also use their antennae for hunting for potential breeding mates and looking for food.

The olfactory sensory cells in the flies’ antennae are sensitive, so they are not fond of chemicals with intense scents. This is also why flies can smell scents that even most humans are not capable of.

When you understand what chemicals and substances they despise smelling, it becomes easier for you to repel and keep them away.

Flies’ List of Most Hated Scents

Flies' List Of Most Hated Scents

Flies are certainly not fans of anything with pungent smells, including the detergents or sprays you use at home.

These products normally contain essential oils like lavender, peppermint, and more.

Moreover, flies are not attracted to anything that smells fresh and relaxing. Don’t worry; we’ll talk about almost the entire list below.

1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint, like lavender, works best in keeping flies away because these pests hate its scent.

These tiny creatures hate how intense and triggering peppermint’s scent is, leaving them uncomfortable and wanting to escape. With this, most homeowners prefer peppermint to keep flies and other tiny pests away.

One way to take advantage of peppermint oil is to plant it in your garden. This is an effective way to protect other vulnerable plants in your area from swarms of flies that could damage the leaves.

But aside from repelling pests outside, you can also use peppermint oil to eliminate flies inside your home. This has been proven by various researchers who published a study online.

Even more fascinating is that peppermint oil effectively kept flies away until six days after applying. Aside from its proven efficiency against several pests, it’s also economical.

If you’re planting peppermint in your garden, don’t dispose of its leaves. You can grind them and place them in your couches, beds, dining chairs, and other seating places.

2. Basil and Pine Oil

Basil And Pine Oil

Like peppermint, basil also has an intense scent that will keep flies away. This herb is a great choice to plant in your garden, and strategically place it among other plants that are easily eaten and damaged by pests.

Depending on your preference, both the basil plant and essential oil are effective. Basil smells great and is ideal for placing small basil plants inside your home on kitchen counters and coffee tables.

If you prefer the essential oil, dilute it in water and place it in a spray bottle. This solution is proven effective to spray on windows and help flies stay away. Using dried, ground-up, and contained basil leaves also effect as fly repellents.

Aside from basil, pine oil also has that distinct pungent smell that can trigger the flies’ antennae.

Smelling this essential oil will cause them to feel disoriented, so they will try to run far away from the area. Pine oil can also leave your home smelling woody.

3. Rosemary and Rue

Rosemary And Rue

Rosemary is an herb you can use to make your dishes smell and taste better. But aside from pairing it with thyme to make your delicious roast chicken, rosemary can also help deter and repel flies and mosquitoes.

Moreover, thanks to its intense bold scent, flies easily pick up how they smell and will try to escape. Flies specifically hate rosemary’s anti-sweet yet strong scent.

Another famous herb for making delectable dishes is rue. It can also come in essential oil form, and you can use it to treat window sills and curtains. You can use rue essential oil by mixing a few drops with water and spraying the area.

4. Bay Leaves

Bay Leaves

We know bay leaves can make your dishes taste more flavorful. But did you know that flies and other pests despise their scent?

Homeowners are fond of planting this in their gardens because it serves various purposes. Bay leaves are also preferred as natural fly repellents you can spray outdoors and indoors.

If you’re using crushed bay leaves, we recommend placing them inside resealable bags, especially when you’re placing them outdoors.

This ensures the leaves won’t get carried away by strong winds. Ground bay leaves are effective when you place them on chairs, beds, and couches.

5. Common Dish Seasonings

Common Dish Seasonings (Cinnamon)

The most basic seasonings effectively deter flies because these pests hate how they smell. It’s the same reason most cooks love mixing cloves and onions into their fish dishes to mask the fishy and pungent smell.

The most common spices and seasonings fly hate to include the following:

  • Cinnamon – you can light cinnamon candles and place them inside rooms to keep flies away
  • Cayenne pepper – flies are not fond of hot and spicy scents
  • Citrus – flies, especially fruit flies, don’t like sour and tangy scents
  • Lemongrass – one of the most effective against fruit flies

6. Eucalyptus and Lavender

Eucalyptus And Lavender

Landscapers and gardeners love planting lavender because, aside from its naturally beautiful appearance, this plant smells great!

Moreover, it’s easy to grow lavender plants and take care of them, so they remain healthy. Plus, most pests like flies, mosquitoes, and bugs hate its strong fragrant scent.

Another interesting fact about lavender plants is that the dried-up leaves still have intense scents that fly despise.

If you don’t have a garden at home, a lavender essential oil also keeps flies at bay. Like peppermint, you can mix a few drops with water and spray in areas where flies normally thrive.

Eucalyptus also works the same. We know it has medicinal purposes that can help ease muscle pain and fatigue. But for pests, its scent is enough to keep them away, especially flies.

Use the Scents That Flies Hate

Now that you have a brief background on the various scents that flies and mosquitoes hate, you can use these and keep them away from your home.

Moreover, because most are essential oils, you can also use them in making your rooms and entire home smell more fragrant and appealing.

It would be best to continue using seasonings and spices when cooking fishy dishes because flies hate their scents. This will make sure these pests won’t go near your food, which can prevent serious health effects like food poisoning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Flies Hate the Scent of Vinegar?

Because vinegar is a fermentation product, it presents a scent that most pests don’t like, including flies.

Some homeowners prefer using apple-cider vinegar to keep these pests away because it’s natural and economical.

However, one thing to know about all kinds of vinegar is that they are less effective than essential oils and common spices in repelling flies and mosquitoes.

What Are Scents That Flies Are Attracted To?

Depending on the type of fly, these pests have various scents they are attracted to:

  • House flies: filthy and decaying scents like garbage or rotting meat
  • Drain flies: mildewy scent
  • Fruit flies: anything sugary and sweet

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