Hola muchachos. Welcome back to another episode of Olivia madness…essential oils to get rid of flies!
Today you are in for quite the treat. So the other day I tried killing a fly invading my space. I spent hours (3 minutes really) ‘hunting’ it with no success. Those pesky little creatures are faster than The Flash.
If you have tried swatting one you know what I’m talking about. It’s like they can read your mind. The way they dodge your slow and petty swat attempts like Neo in the Matrix is just unbelievable. But how on earth do they do this?
To illustrate this superpower, consider a clock’s minute hand. As humans, we see the clock ticking once every second. To turtles, the hand ticks twice as fast. For flies, each tick happens in slow motion. A single tick happens 4 times slower. I know, this is a bit technical so I’m trying to keep it as simple as I can (haha I’m beginning to sound like a female Sheldon). Because of this, we can say that the speed of time varies depending on the animal species.
You see, all animals view the world like a long continuous video. But the brain doesn’t process information like this. It works more like a high-end camera taking continuous shots. The brain pieces together images caught in flashes.
The human brain averages about 60 flashes per second. Turtle brains do 15 flashes while the tiny fly brains do 250 flashes a second. Imagine that. So flies see the world around them in slow motion. If you have watched the animation Epic, you have a clear understanding of what I’m talking about. Time is relatively relative if that makes any sense.
But let’s not get caught up in all this ‘superpower’ stuff and forget the problem at hand. Flies are a dirty and gross nuisance without any real purpose in the food chain. They defecate even on their food and spread diseases with their touch. It is therefore understandable how one can kill them with no remorse.
To help you get rid of flies in your home, we shall look at different essential oil blends. But before that, here is a background of the problem.
9 Fun Facts About Flies
We all know what a fly is. But just so we are on the same page – flies are tiny flying creatures. They are usually black or gray (depending on the species) and are covered in hair. Unlike butterflies, they have a single pair of wings. Female flies are bigger than male flies.
Here are 9 fun (mostly disgusting) facts about flies:
- First, houseflies survive on a diet of liquids only. The fact that they do not have mouthparts makes them unable to chew food. So instead of chewing, they drink their food. But since most foods they land on is solid, how do they achieve this?Well, house flies normally regurgitate digestive juices on solid foods. The juices will break down the food into tiny pieces that can be sucked through the proboscis (haha, sounds naughty).
- Houseflies taste with their feet. In this light, they are similar to butterflies. Their taste receptors are on their feet and lower legs. When they land on their meal, it could be feces, a dead animal or yes, even your lunch, it wanders around for a bit to taste its food before it gets to eat it. It is the same thing we humans do while trying out new foods at restaurants (the tasting of food that is).
- Houseflies tend to defecate a whole LOT! And the worst thing about this is that they do not care about where they do it. Scientists say that they defecate every time they land and they do it even on their food. The liquid food they have goes through their digestive system very fast; that’s why they drop deuces all the time.
- Houseflies are known to spread diseases. It is said that they carry close to 100 pathogens or even more. These pathogens include E.coli and Salmonella. With their dirty habits, flies contaminate cooking utensils and food.
- Now flies have another superpower – they can walk upside down. They are like little Spidermen, only that they did not get their powers from a spider bite. If anything, a spider would eat them alive after soaking them in digestive juices.
- The anatomy of houseflies allows them to climb and walk on just about any surface regardless of its inclination. Their feet have two fat pads covered in hair that produce a sticky substance made of oils and sugars. This substance provides them with a great grip which is perfect to scale any surface.
- You and I have a 180-degree field of view. When I realized this I was very impressed with myself (weird I know). But as it turns out, the simple human eyes got nothing on the compound eyes of houseflies. These have a whopping 360-degree field of view. This allows them to see in any direction – even behind them. With these eyes, they can navigate their environment as they keep an eye out for danger. That’s part of why you just can’t catch these suckers.
- Houseflies have a very short lifespan. The oldest housefly (the housefly methuselah) is 30 days old. At this age, I picture a housefly with wrinkled skin, impaired hearing and sight and probably crooked flying since their wings are weak from old age. But anyway, in their short life, houseflies lay about 500 eggs. These eggs are usually in batches of 75-150. So while they may not last as long as we do, an infestation can happen in days and last for generations.
- Last but not least, male houseflies are always on the prowl for a mate. Talk of having a high sex drive. Studies reveal that male houseflies have a specific part in their eyes known as the love spot. This area is basically used to detect and chase fly hotties.
8 Common Diseases Spread By Flies
Houseflies can be much more than a nuisance in your home. In addition to the buzzing noise, they also pose a threat to your health given that they spread several diseases. This in itself is reason enough to want the flies out of your house and environment.
I realize that some of these may not pose a direct threat to you and your family, but it is sobering to know how dangerous they can be.
If you live in the U.S you may not have to worry about this condition as much. But if you plan on traveling to Africa or South East Asia where it is prevalent, you should be cautious. Do note that I’ve nothing against countries in these regions, I’m just stating a fact.
So, don’t kill the messenger, I’ve been to Madagascar and loved it btw. Cholera was prevalent in the U.S back in the 1800s until modern sewage and water treatment methods eliminated its spread by contaminated water. Today, research shows that only about 10 cases of cholera are reported yearly in the U.S.
Cholera is basically a waterborne disease that is synonymous with diarrhea and dehydration. When left untreated, it could lead to death. It is caused by drinking water or eating food contaminated by vibrio cholerae.
This bacterium is carried in water and food contaminated with feces from an infected person. The symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate
- Reduced skin elasticity
- Low blood pressure
- Dry mucous membranes
When most people hear of this word, they immediately think of food poisoning. For this reason, it is rarely thought of as a disease in itself. That said, the bacteria is spread by flies. It’s also common in improperly stored and cooked meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy. Flies do the dirty job of transferring it to foods that are close by. Out of the many diseases I will list, this is by far one that is mostly associated with flies.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include:
The symptoms of this disease start between 12 and 72 hours and last for about 4-7 days.
3. Typhoid Fever
Granted, this is not a disease you are likely to contract in first world nations but nonetheless, they are serious enough to attract attention. The bacteria causing typhoid fever has its habitat in contaminated water. However, with the help of flies, the bacteria can spread to clean water fast.
Symptoms of typhoid fever include:
- Poor appetite
- Generalized pains and aches
- Severe fevers of 104F
With time, chest congestion may develop as well as abdominal discomfort and pains. Improvement is noticed between the 3rd and 4th week in patients who do not develop other complications.
This is basically an infection of the intestines. It causes severe diarrhea laced with blood. In some patients, mucus may be present in feces. Symptoms may persist between 3 and 7 days. Other symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
Dysentery thrives in areas with poor hygiene. If one does not wash their hands after using the washroom toilet, anything they touch may be potentially contaminated. This infection can also spread through contaminated water and food. This is where flies come in. They are the go-between in this process.
It is also important to note that there are different types of dysentery. Most people who acquire dysentery have either amebic or bacterial dysentery.
Bacterial dysentery is caused by Shigella, Salmonella, Campylobacter or enterohemorrhagic E. coli. Amebic dysentery, on the other hand, is caused by an amoeba. Amebic dysentery is prevalent in the tropical locals that are characterized by poor sanitary conditions.
The first thing that crosses my mind when I hear the word anthrax is terrorism. In case you have no clue what I am talking about, read up on the 2001 anthrax terrorist attack in the U.S. But far from this connection, it is an infection that is caused by Bacillus anthracis. These bacteria produce spores. These spores are protected by a hard shell which preserves them for years.
Though this condition is common in farm animals including cows, sheep, and goats, we can also contract it by coming into contact with the infected animal. But getting in contact with such animals is not all there is to it. To get anthrax, you will need to breathe in lots of the spores into your lungs, consume meat contaminated with these spores or get spores in superficial wounds.
6. Epidemic Conjunctivitis
Epidemic Conjunctivitis is not the normal pink eye you are used to. As a matter of fact, the disease represents something much more irritating and contagious. The symptoms of this viral infection can last for about two weeks. These symptoms include:
- Cornea inflammation
- Extreme fatigue
- Lymph node swelling
The infection develops when the pathogens found on flies come into contact with the eyes. How does this even happen you wonder? Well, it is quite simple. And you may not even be aware of it. Touching an infected surface and later rubbing your eyes is all that is needed to infect your eyes. To prevent this disease, you simply should keep your hands clean and work hard to reduce the population of flies in your home.
Poliomyelitis is also known as polio. Polio can lead to paralysis or even death. It is caused by a poliovirus which travels to the spine and brain tissues. When the virus gains entry into your body, it causes flu-like symptoms to develop. These symptoms include:
- A sore throat
Over time, the symptoms worsen (typically after a few days), and causes paralysis and meningitis. Though polio vaccine has been created and today there are fewer cases in most parts of the world than before, you need to be careful when traveling to South Asia or West Africa. Also, note that polio can be transmitted through fecal matter from infected persons. This happens when flies feed on feces and land on food or water.
I’m sure you have never heard of this disease. Tularemia is a disease of humans and animals that is caused by Francisellatularensis. Rodents, hares, and rabbits are most susceptible. During outbreaks, they die in large numbers. Humans can be infected in different ways including:
- Skin contact with the infected animals
- Ingesting contaminated water
- Laboratory exposure
Common Signs Of Fly Infestation
Having a few noisy and irritating flies in your dining room (or any other part of your house) or even office does not mean that you are dealing with an infestation. Nonetheless, it should act as a warning for you to take preventive measures to keep a possible infestation at bay.
So you were probably reading that paragraph and wondering, ‘then how in the world do I know when I have an infestation on my hands?’ to help you out, below are some common tell signs – you cannot possibly miss them.
Regularly notice flies in your home
Am I starting to negate myself? Am I confused? I just said that noticing a few flies does not mean you have a fly infestation in your home and now I am listing noticing flies regularly in your home as a sign.
Before you crucify me, no I am very much sane and I know what I’m saying. When you start to notice flies buzzing around your house and around the garbage bins and other waste containers, there is a high possibility that a fly infestation is in its early days. Inspect areas where water pools including rainwater barrels, guttering, old machinery, and tires. Some waterlogged plants can also attract flies.
These are basically flies in their larvae stage. When you notice these, it could be a sign you have a fly breeding site on your property. There are high chances of you discovering maggots in deteriorating food and waste areas.
Small and dark clusters of spots
You should inspect the light fittings, upper areas of wall surfaces and rooms. In addition to these areas, inspect areas and spots that are difficult to clean perfectly including your drainage system and subfloor cavities. If you notice small dark clusters of spots, you have a fly problem in your hands.
What Are The 6 Most Common Types of Flies And What Attracts Them To Your Home?
So far I have chosen to focus this article on house flies. It was intentional so as to help you have a better understanding of flies (though general). In this portion, however, we shall focus on the different types of flies and what attracts them. And, knowing what attracts flies is the first step to getting rid of them for good.
Well, let me qualify the above statement…since there are approximately 120,000 species of flies in the world, we obviously won’t get the chance to cover this here in any great detail. Instead we’ll look at the 6 most common ones:
1. House Flies
Generally, houseflies are attracted to filth, garbage, and organic waste. As I’ve pointed out over and over again, these land on any surface and on foods and drinks and contaminate them. House flies are attracted to:
- Rotting meat
- Decaying organic waste including pet waste
- Fly specks on the house walls
2. Fruit flies
Fruit flies are attracted to fermented and sweet liquids. They get their nutrition from these liquids. Similar to house flies, they are gross in that they lay eggs on their food. Below is a short list of all items fruit flies are attracted to.
- Sugar syrups
- Rotten onions, potatoes, and overripe fruits
- Fermenting liquids including vinegar, soda, and alcoholic drinks
3. Drain Flies
These flies love cool and moist places with lots of organic matter to feed on. For this reason, they are drawn to sewer and drains (hence the names ‘drain flies’). They lay eggs on the decomposing organic matter in pipes and drains.
Below is a list of places they are attracted to.
- Decaying vegetation
- Decomposing organic matter
4. Blow Flies
Blow flies are also known as bottle flies. They feed on decomposing meat and untreated wounds present on live animals. I can’t even think about that without feeling nauseated. The name ‘blowflies’ is derived from a term in old English – fly blown. This term was used to refer to pieces of meat that had fly eggs.
Below is a short list of things that bottle flies are attracted to:-
- Wet garbage
- Animal feces
- Decomposing meat
5. Cluster Flies
These flies are generally attracted to warm buildings. This is because they hibernate in warm places. They lay eggs in soil aerated by earthworms. The eggs are laid on solid cracks in the soil. After 4 days, the eggs hatch and maggots penetrate earthworm body cavities. They slowly feed on the hosts as they grow.
Cluster flies are attracted to:
- Warm places in buildings during cold seasons
- Moist garbage and soils
- Warm light. As such, you will find them close to night lamps and windows
6. Horse Flies
A horse fly is a ‘special’ type of fly. It is classified under the fly family Tabanidae. When I say special, I don’t mean it in a flattery manner. It means that they are their own kind of evil. They bite animals and humans. They have scissor-like jaws designed to tear flesh. In comparison, a mosquito’s bite will feel like a kiss. A horsefly’s bite is super painful.
They are most active in warm and humid conditions. It is for this reason that they are mostly spotted in houses close to lakes and beaches. Horse flies are attracted to the following:
- They are attracted to dark moving objects and carbon dioxide. This is how they are wired to locate their prey.
- These flies are also attracted to acetone present in varnish remover or nail polish. And since cattle breath has some traces of acetone, horseflies are attracted to cattle as well.
- Some horsefly species are attracted to ammonia. Ammonia is present in human and cattle urine.
And there you have it – a list of items that attract different types of flies. If you have an infestation in your hands, it would be wise to keep your environment waste-free and clean. This will help to prevent attracting even more flies.
To kill and repel flies already in your home, using Essential Oils will be your best option as they are natural and flies hate the scent.
Can Essential Oils Be Used To Get Rid Of Flies
Before we get into it let me review another ‘viable cure’ for flies – pesticides. The reason I have those in quotes is that I don’t believe in using them. While they may be effective, they have time and time again been associated with all kinds of health problems including headaches, nausea and other long-term and serious problems including cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive problems.
In addition to those problems, use of pesticides can also lead to skin issues and nerve damage, dizziness, fatigue, systemic poisoning, and headaches. In children, pesticides may impair the growth and development of the central nervous system.
Aside from these health hazards, they negatively affect the environment as well. Chemical pesticides are toxic to living organisms since they are after all, designed to kill. However, their strength is their major flaw. The chemicals pollute the air we breathe and once it dissolves in the water systems, the effects are catastrophic.
So while these are effective, I recommend the use of essential oils often as they do not have such ramifications.
Top 5 Essential Oils For Getting Rid Of Flies
This EO has insecticidal, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties which make it an effective EO – one with a variety of uses. Lemongrass has the ability to keep insects including flies at bay as well as relieve body aches and muscle pain.
Insects cannot withstand the smell of lemongrass. This means that it is perfect for keeping flies out of your space.
Eucalyptus is a tree native to Australia. It is often associated with koala bears as it is their main food source. While it is of great nutritional value to wildlife, the EO extracted from the leaves has great medicinal value. You have probably seen it on the list of ingredients of sore throat sprays, chest rubs, and cough medications. But aside from these, did you know that it is an amazing insecticide. As a matter of fact, research shows that it is great against flies.
3. Tea Tree
If you don’t have a bottle of tea tree EO you should get one now. It is just what you need to get rid of flies in your home. Tea tree EO has antifungal, antibiotic, antiseptic and antiviral properties. It can repel insects instantly. And courtesy of its antiparasitic properties, it works great against lice, leeches, ticks and fleas as well.
Peppermint has a clean minty aroma that I’m sure you’ll prefer to any chemical smell. It is a great natural pesticide that repels and kills flies, mosquitoes, fleas, ants, and mice. A study conducted showed peppermint EO to be effective against mosquito larvae. It killed the larvae within 24 hours of exposure.
Many associate the sweet floral scent of lavender with soaps, sleep, stress reduction, and relaxation. However, and this may come as a surprise to you, it is great against bugs. It has been used as a bug repellent for years. It helps to control the infestation of fleas, beetles, and flies.
6 Essential Oil Blends To Repel Flies
1. Fly and Mosquito Repellent
What you need:
- Lemongrass EO – 7 drops
- Peppermint EO – 5 drops
- Cinnamon EO – 3 drops
- Oregano Oil – 4 drops
- 4 oz. glass spray bottle
Yes, this is one great concoction to get rid of flies. But ain’t you lucky getting a 2 for 1 special. This particular EO blend will also help get rid of mosquitoes. You will no longer have to bear with the high-pitched and annoying noises from mosquitoes at night or stare helplessly as flies buzz around killing your peace. Man, talk about killing the proverbial insects with one stone eh?
Take the essential oils and mix them all up in the glass spray bottle. Fill it up with water and shake well. Use it just like you would a commercial fly or mosquito repellant.
If you want to turn it into a rub for when you are out camping, you can include jojoba oil in the list of ingredients. Simply add the above EOs in 1 oz. jojoba oil and apply the mixture on your body. It will drive away all insects.
2. Essential Oils and Vinegar Fly Spray
What you need:
- Rosemary EO – 15 drops
- Lemongrass EO – 10 drops
- Coriander EO – 6 drops
- Tea Tree EO – 8 drops
- Apple cider vinegar – 2 cups
- Water – 2 cups
For y’all who are interested in natural EO recipes, this is the best one yet. The rosemary in the recipe will repel flies with great effectiveness. Please ensure you add and mix all the EOs in a glass spray bottle.
Spray generously on all your doors, windows, counters, refrigerator, walls, cabinets, and other infested surfaces. If you use it everyday, the flies will stop showing up.
3. Floral Anti-Repellent Fly Blend
What you need:
- Geranium EO – 7 drops
- Sandalwood EO – 5 drops
- Lavender EO – 3 drops
- Rosemary EO – 8 drops
- Lemon EO – 10 drops
- 8 oz. glass spray bottle
Now here’s a blend that will help you sort out your fly problem. But aside from that, it will go a long way in helping you relax. How is this?
Well, Sandalwood EO used in the blend contains high levels of sesquiterpenes. This is a chemical that stimulates the brain (the pineal gland to be specific). This chemical causes the nerves to relax. It is for this reason that Sandalwood EO is often used to enhance prayer and meditation.
To prepare, mix all EOs well in a glass spray bottle and top up with water. Simply spray this mixture to make your entire home smell good and to prevent flies from coming in.
4. Quick and Easy Fly Blend
What you need:
- Lemongrass – 8 drops
- Citronella – 12 drops
- Rosemary – 9 drops
- Myrtle – 5 drops
- Tea tree – 7 drops
Mix the above EOs well in a glass bowl. Then, dab a few drops of the blend onto cotton balls and place them cleverly around your home, especially in places where you think they may be hiding, like the backs of cabinets and under sinks. Repeat / re-apply every 5 days until the problem is eradicated.
5. Refreshing Fly Blend
What you need:
- Peppermint – 5 drops
- Tea Tree EO – 3 drops
- Eucalyptus EO – 12 drops
- Lemongrass EO – 6 drops
- Idaho Tansy EO – 4 drops (optional)
The EOs used in this blend are common ones (aside from Idaho Tansy EO), yet the resulting blend is very effective against flies. It gets the job done in a short period of time.
Scale insects like mites, whiteflies, etc. will be instantly killed on contact with this blend due to the concentration of eucalyptus oil. Simply add the blend to 2 cups of water in a glass spray bottle. Shale well and apply to your plants every 2-3 days until the infestation is gone.
6. Diffuser Blend Fly Repellent
What you need:
- Lavender EO – 8 drops
- Citronella EO – 12 drops
- Eucalyptus EO – 10 drops
- Peppermint EO – 15 drops
Add 6-8 drops of the above EO blend per 100ml of water in your diffuser. The scent will keep flies away whilst disinfecting the air in your house.
The Bottom Line
While we learnt some interesting and equally disgusting facts about flies, you should not allow yourself to get caught up in all that. Flies may be dirty, gross and diseased, but they’re also everywhere.
You need to get rid of them as fast as you can, but don’t sweat it too much when you spot one or two flies around the house. With the above essential oil blends, you can make your environment clean and unsuitable for all sorts of flies with minimal frustration, no side effects, and great aromatherapeutic benefits.