Flies are pretty much a given when you live on a farm and raise animals. Our horses especially have a hard time with the flies in the summer. But most conventional fly sprays contain cedar oil, pyrethrin or premethrin - all of which I worry can be dangerous, especially to our chickens and ducks.
So two summers ago, I started testing different natural herbal concoctions and I finally feel I have perfected one that works quite well to repel flies and can be safely sprayed on our horses, in their stalls, in the coop and duck house, as well as around the feeders.
This spray has a white vinegar base which has the added benefit of being an antibacterial and disinfectant. I mix the citrus scent of a lime with basil and mint, all of which are particularly unappealing to flies. I throw in a vanilla bean for good measure since vanilla seems to be an excellent fly repellent as well.
What you'll Need:
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh basil leaves
Vanilla bean, split [Here's where I buy my vanilla beans]
Pint Mason Jar
Cut the lime into slices or quarters and place in the canning jar along with a handful of fresh-cut mint and basil leaves, torn slightly with your fingers to release their oils. Add the split vanilla bean, then fill the jar with white vinegar leaving at least 1/4" headroom.
Set the jar in your pantry, cupboard or on the kitchen counter to 'age' for about two weeks, shaking every few days to reinvigorate the contents. When ready to use, strain the liquid into a squirt bottle and spray liberally wherever you see flies congregating - in your coop, run, barn, stall, feeding area - or even around your back patio or barbeque. Repeat as needed.