Flies and Homemade Fly Repellant

Bottomless Lakes is a beautiful state park. BUT they do have a bit of a fly problem. But then again so does Roswell. There are a lot of horses and cows in the area. Not only does the park have the regular house type flies that bug you all summer, they also have the biting deer flies that nail you. I don’t care for either.

I have been cruising Pinterest looking for a homemade fly repellant. Most of them required ingredients that I did not have. Since we are running so tight on funds, I could not see driving into town to buy ingredients. I decided to narrow down my search to specifically “DIY fly repellant”. I read up on many concoctions. Most of which I had only one or two of the required ingredients. Then I ran across a few that mentioned how flies disliked vanilla. They also do not care for vodka and I saw where you could spray your picnic table with vodka and the flies would leave you alone while you ate. But I do not have any vodka. I found a couple of brews that called for vanilla extract as an ingredient. Then, lo and behold, I found an incredibly simple one… 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons REAL vanilla extract. Imitation vanilla apparently doesn’t work. I have water. I also buy real vanilla extract in 1 pint bottles from Sam’s Club. I have one that had recently been opened. Ta-daaa! I have the ingredients.

So I rounded up a little hand-held pump up sprayer that I bought a couple of years ago for spraying the grape vines. Do not ask me exactly why I decided to hang on to it while I was trashing so much but I thought it might come in handy for spraying pesticide when the little trigger spray on the jugs pooped out. It smelled faintly of vinegar and soap so I must have used to wash something. I rinsed the jug out and added 2 cups of water and two tablespoons of vanilla extract. I added a squirt of the Pink dish soap I use for washing dishes. I thought that the soap would help it stick to the bus. Shook it up to combine and then pumped it up.


Now for the test. I sprayed the outside and around the entry door. The flies just hang on the edges waiting for the door to open. I sprayed the inside of the entry door as well as the magnetic screen. I sprayed it all until it dripped. Then I let it dry. While it dried, the honey bees came up for the water in the mixture but they shied away once they got close. Then a fly buzzed up, looped around the door and flew off. One landed for a few seconds before flying off. While the door and screen dried, I left the door open. No flies. I was cautiously impressed. I also sprayed the picnic table and around the grill. No flies there either, even after a couple of hours.

My next test was as a personal spray. It’s just water, vanilla and a bit of dish soap. I figure that’s a fairly people and pet safe combination. So, over the dog’s objections, she got sprayed. Then I sprayed only my legs, shorts and shirt. I did not spray my arms, head, neck or face. I got Ruby Lee’s leash and head harness on her and we took her morning walk around the campground. She has a fairly regular route she likes to take. Normally we are attacked constantly by house and deer flies. This morning, no house flies at all. The deer flies were not as bad, although I had a few land on my arms and buzz my head. They did not bother Ruby at all. It’s been a couple of hours and  no flies are hanging around like they had been yesterday and the days before. No flies come in each time the door opens, unlike before spraying.

I am assuming that the lack of flies is due to the vanilla mixture. Weather conditions seem similar to what they were yesterday. I don’t think the flies have all magically disappeared this morning. I do wonder how long the mixture will last on the door and screen. I’m sure it will rinse off with the next rain. It’s a fairly cheap mixture for me to make up. And it does smell nice. I’m a bit partial to the smell of vanilla. Plus I am more comfortable spraying vanilla extract on me and the dog to keep the deer flies away over the DEET that is the alternative. I do not know how this will work with mosquitos. But I’m sure I will eventually find out. I may need to add another ingredient to this mixture as time goes on and we are in other places. I will post an update if I do. In the meanwhile, the bus and the rest of us will go around smelling like vanilla.


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