Have you ever been enjoying a nice hike or camping trip only to have it ruined by deer flies buzzing around and biting you? Those little bloodsuckers seem to come out of nowhere.
Deer flies can swarm around your head, landing on your arms and neck and biting with their sharp little mouthparts. The bites are also very painful .
The good news is that there are some natural ways to control deer flies, so you can get back to enjoying the great outdoors. In this article, we’ll share some easy tips for repelling them using home remedies and natural sprays.
Deer flies are in the family Tabanidae . They are usually gray to light brown and about 1/4 to 1/3 inch in size.
Deer flies also have colorful eyes, like bright green or gold, and clear wings with dark bands.
They feed on the blood of mammals like deer, horses, and, unfortunately, humans. The females are the ones that bite, using scissor-like jaws to slice into the skin. Their bites hurt and itch.
How to Get Rid of Deer Flies Naturally
Staying indoors, wearing protective clothing, and using natural repellents are some of the best ways to avoid becoming deer fly bait this summer.
Below are some other home remedies to keep them at bay:
1. Mow Tall Grasses
Deer flies love to inhabit overgrown, unmaintained areas with tall grass and overgrown vegetation.
To eliminate their prime habitat around your home, mow your lawn regularly and keep the grass cut short. Tall grass gives deer flies places to rest and hide. Frequent mowing will disturb them and force them to find shelter elsewhere.
Keeping your yard tidy and free of overgrown areas and debris creates an inhospitable environment for deer flies. With fewer places to rest, breed, and hide, deer flies will move on to more suitable habitats.
A little yard work and maintenance go a long way toward naturally repelling these annoying pests.
2. Limit Moisture in Your Yard
Deer flies need standing water to breed, so reducing moisture around your home is key.
Clean out any standing water from pet bowls, gutters, birdbaths, kiddie pools, etc. These provide the perfect breeding ground for deer fly larvae.
Also, improve the drainage in your yard. Fix any leaky outdoor faucets or sprinklers.
And if you have a pond or stream on your property, try to eliminate stagnant, standing water along the edges.
By limiting access to standing water and moisture, you’ll remove breeding spots. You’ll make your yard less habitable for these and other pests like mosquitoes and horse flies.
3. Essential Oils
Essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, citronella, and peppermint oil naturally repel deer flies.
After diluting in a carrier oil like jojoba oil or almond oil, apply a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil directly to your skin.
Place it, especially on exposed areas like the neck, arms, and legs. The strong scent will deter deer flies from landing on you.
You can also make a homemade deer fly repellent spray. Just combine 20 drops of an essential oil, like lavender, with four ounces of water in a spray bottle.
Spray it on your skin and clothing before going outside. The refreshing aroma will keep deer flies at bay.
4. Repellent Plants
Plant aromatic herbs like lavender, catnip, basil, rosemary, or mint around outdoor areas where you spend time. Their fragrant compounds naturally repel flies and other insects.
You can also rub the fresh or dried herbs on your skin for an easy DIY deer fly repellent.
5. Natural Predators
Releasing natural predators of deer flies on your property can help control the population in an eco-friendly way. Some options to consider:
- Dragonflies and damselflies prey on deer fly larvae and adults. Planting flowers such as Joe Pye Weed, black-eyed Susan, and some wildflowers will attract these insects.
- Birds like flycatchers, killdeer, and martins feast on adult deer flies and other small flying insects. Providing birdhouses, bird feeders, and bird baths may invite these birds into your yard.
- Bats are voracious predators of night-flying insects like deer flies. Installing bat houses on your property will give bats roosting spots and encourage them to hunt in your area. A single bat can eat thousands of flying insects each night .
- Spiders, frogs, and parasitic wasps also prey on deer fly eggs, larvae, and/or adults.
Releasing and providing a habitat for natural predators is an organic solution for controlling deer flies outside.
6. Sticky Traps
Sticky traps are a simple way to catch and kill deer flies in an eco-friendly manner.
Make your own DIY deer fly traps by coating blue index cards, cardboard squares, or plastic lids in a sticky substance like petroleum jelly or Stiky Stuff. Deer flies are attracted to dark colors, so keep that in mind when choosing colors for the traps.
Next, place the sticky traps around areas where you’ve noticed the flies, such as near pools or wooded areas.
7. Screen Netting
Screen netting can also keep deer flies away. Buy enough netting to cover doors, windows, porches, or patios where deer flies may enter.
Secure the netting in place, and make sure there are no gaps or tears in the netting where flies can get in.
8. Stay Still
When deer flies are buzzing around, your instinct may be to swat at them or run away. But that will likely just provoke them to bite. Instead, remain motionless until the fly leaves.
Deer flies are visual hunters, attracted to movement and carbon dioxide . By staying still, you eliminate those stimuli and become uninteresting to the deer fly.
9. Wear Light Colored Clothing
When spending time outside during deer fly season, wear light-colored clothing, especially shirts and pants. As mentioned, these flies are more attracted to dark colors, so wearing lighter shades of clothing will make you less of a target.
Loose-fitting clothes are also better, as deer flies can bite through tight-fitting fabrics more easily. Long-sleeved shirts and pants will also provide an extra layer of protection for your arms and legs.
Wearing appropriate protective clothing is one of the best ways to avoid deer fly bites when outside.
10. Wear a Hat
Wearing a hat is one of the simplest ways to avoid deer fly bites.
Deer flies are also attracted to the top of the head. So covering up with a hat, especially a wide-brimmed style, makes it harder for the flies to land on your head and bite you.
11. BugPellent Fly & Tick Spray
Moreover, it is safe to use on humans, dogs, and other animals. By spraying this natural concoction on yourself, your dogs, and your horses, you create an unpleasant barrier that sends these flies looking for an easier target.
Give a few of these natural remedies a try and enjoy your time outside, annoyance-free. You’ll be hosting backyard barbecues and going on hikes again in no time.
Sometimes natural solutions are the most effective after all. The best defense is a good offense, so take action now before deer fly season is in full swing.