Oil of lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, has many traditional uses. Whether added to bath salts, blended into massage oils or lightly applied to the pillow, this gentle ingredient is a favorite among aromatherapy and homeopathy enthusiasts. Herbalists agree that lavender oil is also an effective way to say "Shoo, fly!" Pleasant and peaceful to us, the scent of lavender is decidedly displeasing to those infamous winged pests. And the oil is useful in treating their bites, too.
Area Fly Repellent
To repel flies from your kitchen, Steve Tvedten recommends placing a sponge soaked with oil of lavender into a saucer. Set the saucer out on your counter or kitchen table, and the flies should buzz off and leave you alone.
Wearable Insect Repellent
To protect yourself from flies and other biting insects, use a commercially available lavender-based insect repellent on your skin. Be sure to reapply often; lavender oil provides insect protection for only half an hour or less. Do not use such products on children under 2 years of age.
If you prefer making your own fly and mosquito repellent rather than buying some, you can try this recipe from herbalist Debra Nuzzi-St. Claire. Mix together half an ounce citronella oil, a quarter ounce lavender oil, and an eighth ounce each of pennyroyal, tea tree and jojoba oils. This gives you a concentrated base mixture. To dilute it for safe use on your skin, blend with 16 ounces of jojoba or almond oil. For a spray, add 16 ounces of vodka to the base mixture and shake well before each application.
Keep this mixture out of the reach of children and be careful not to get any in your mouth. Essential oils, especially pennyroyal, can be toxic if ingested.
For a homemade insect repellent without pennyroyal, you can mix 10 drops of pure lavender oil with 50 ml of a plain oil such as almond, sunflower or light olive oil.
Insect Bite Treatment
According to Dr. Thomas S. Lee, a naturopathic physician in Arizona, you should rub pure, undiluted lavender oil directly onto a fly or mosquito bite as soon as possible after you're bitten. This will reduce itching and inflammation.