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Natural Repellents for Gnats & Fruit Flies

By Lee Morgan
Your fruit bowl will be a top priority for some pests, but you can keep them away naturally.

When you leave fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter, you may notice the presence of irritating little insects swarming around within a day or two of placing the fruit out in the open. Fruit is not only tasty to humans, but it is also a favorite of the fruit fly. Gnats are equally irritating, often hanging around plants or other areas of your home or property. There are safe and natural repellents that will work to persuade gnats and fruit flies to keep their distance.

Dry Soil

Sometimes it’s not what you add to an environment that helps keep pests away -- it’s what you take away. Gnats swarm around the fungus that results from over-watering plants, and they feed on decomposing organic matter on and around plants. If you want gnats to go away, simply fine-tune your watering schedule to prevent fungus growth and rotting plant material. Control your plant watering so that there is no standing water in the soil, which will result in a fungus-free environment and a place gnats would rather not be. When leaves die and fall off or flowers fall to the ground and begin to decompose, remove them from the area to prevent gnat infestation.

Essential Oils

Gnats are sensitive to the aroma of some essential oils. There are several pleasant-smelling oils that you can place around gnat-infested areas that will convince them to quickly find a new place to buzz around. Citronella oil as well as lemongrass, garlic and cinnamon will quickly make gnats vacate the premises in search of less odoriferous venues.


While basil may smell great to us and be a favorite herb for Italian cooking, the fruit fly disagrees with it. An old favorite bartender trick is to chop up fresh basil leaves and leave them on a plate around the fruit garnishes at the bar to prevent fruit flies from swarming the cut fruits and potentially ending up in someone’s cocktail. Since fruit flies are offended by basil, keep it around in places where fresh food might be stored in an accessible, open place. A few leaves tucked into your fruit bowl will prevent them from bothering it.


There is something about things humans like to smell that many insects do not. Fruit flies are among the many insects that are repelled by the odor of cedar. Cedar wood shavings act as a repellent to many types of insects from gnats and fruit flies to fleas and ticks. They can be a handy addition to any area where these bugs might be a problem, and they add a pleasant aroma to the room as well.


About the Author


Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.