A Natural Repellent for Black Flies

This article (thanks to my Appalachian Trail section hiking son) is a follow up to Ticked Off: Repelling Ticks Naturally (which I recommend you read first). Black flies are small enough to pass through window screens or come indoors on or in your hair. According to University of Florida Entomology and Nematology, “DEET” formulations are not very effective. In fact individuals wearing “DEET” may even have more black flies attracted to them than individuals not wearing “DEET.” Permethrin products cannot be applied to the skin. This article focuses on a non-chemical natural repellent for black flies that can be applied directly on the skin.

Black fly feasting on a human

Black fly feasting on a human

Flies on the landscape

Flies in the air

Flies in your whiskers

Flies in your hair.

Flies up your nostrils

Flies down your neck

Flies on your eardrums

Flies by the peck.


Black flies are such a hateful and insidious problem for trail hikers, wilderness adventurers, and fishermen a lamenting song was even written about them!

Black fly bites

Black fly bites

Who wants to be a human feast for blood-sucking female black flies? From about the middle of May to as late as July, black flies can make being outdoors miserable, especially in the Midwest, Northeast, Florida and Canada. Black flies tend to swarm the faces of their prey, attracted to the exhaled carbon dioxide from breathing.  Their bites are painful, itchy, slow to heal and in some cases cause severe allergic reactions (and even death). Bite reactions include headache, nausea, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.


Unfortunately, black flies are small enough to pass through window screen or come indoors on or in your hair. Their preference is to bite you outdoors during the daytime.

They are attracted to dark colors, so light-colored clothing such as khaki, tan or white is best. A long sleeve shirt, long pants and fine over-the-head screen netting helps prevent feeding, but what will repel them on the areas they manage to find exposed?


My son Shad on his recent 131-mile hike from New York to Connecticut.

My son Shad on his recent 131-mile hike from New York to Connecticut.

My son is a section hiker on the Appalachian Trail and recently completed a 131-mile hike with 2 of his backpacking companions, crossing from New York into Connecticut. Because he was venturing into the epicenter of Lyme’s Disease, I wanted to make sure he was protected so I prepared a blend of essential oils based on my own research. My review of the literature focused on natural alternatives to chemical repellents that were effective against ticks.

My son is brutally honest and I knew he would not sugar coat the truth when giving me an unbiased field-testing report. I mailed his blend (dubbed Baker’s Blend 131 in honor of the mileage he covered on this trip) to the motel where he stopped to pick up trail supplies he had shipped to himself in advance.

This is what he reported: Prior to using Blend 131, he had been pulling off 7-8 ticks daily despite treating his clothing with permethrin. Not only did the ticks not bother him, but a totally unexpected benefit was that Blend 131 was a natural repellent for black flies also! The swarms of black flies he encountered wouldn’t even touch him, much less bite him. I honestly believe he was more excited over the fact that Blend 131 repelled black flies than ticks!


My original purpose as a mother (and a nurse) was to eliminate the chemicals (and the side effects they cause) and to provide some natural protection for my son against ticks and Lyme’s Disease. I am extremely pleased that my vigilance paid off and a natural alternative was effective.   I am even more pleased (and surprised) that my essential oils blend worked to repel black flies as well!

In my original article Ticked Off: Repelling Ticks Naturally, I mentioned the essential oils I used in my blend. I posted links to where those essential oils are available and why it is important to buy the most potent grade essential oils. However, it only takes a few drops of each of those essential oils listed if you only plan to use the oils as a natural repellent. (Example: A 15 ml bottle of each of the oils contains 250 drops)

Among he oils I used in my original Blend 131 are rose geranium, lavender, cedar wood. have since extended my research to repelling black flies. (A good product can be made even better.) I am adding a new oil and an additional ingredient to potentiate the repellent activity of the essential oils and increase the protection time.

If you don’t want to buy multiple bottles of essential oils and are only interested in purchasing the premade Baker’s Blend 131 (enhanced for black fly protection), please complete the contact form below, and I’ll be in touch.

Pam Baker, RN


Posted in Health, Wellness and Nutrition, Uncategorized by with 1 comment.


  • Matthew McLinn says:

    I’m curious about your Baker Blend 131 and would like to try a premixed bottle. Please let me know how to go about purchasing this. Thanks. MM

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