Repellents for Sand Flies

Updated November 21, 2016

Sand flies, also known as biting midges, are small, winged insects that breed in sandy ground. These insects fly around looking for a blood meal, leading them to bite you. How your body reacts to the bite depends on your sensitivity to the histamines it releases. Knowing how to repel sand flies offers you some relief from the pests.


Commercial bug sprays effectively keep sand flies and other insects at bay. Most commercial bug sprays use diethyl tolumide, also known as DEET. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, DEET is safe for the entire family over the age of 2 months with a concentration of less than 30 per cent. Apply DEET to any areas of exposed skin on you and your family to keep sand flies away. When applying DEET repellents to your face, apply the repellent to your hands and use your hands to transfer it to your face.

Neem Oil

Neem oil offers a chemical-free alternative that you can make at home. Neem oils comes from the seeds of the neem tree; when pressed, the oil is released. Used in a variety of products including fertiliser, contraceptives and skin care products, neem is also effective at repelling sand flies. To create your own neem oil repellent, mix together 1 tsp neem oil, 1 qt. warm water and 1/4 tsp insecticidal soap or liquid detergent. Spray the mixture on plants around where you have a sand fly problem.


The old standby, citronella repels numerous insects, including sand flies. Citronella oil, which is added to insect repellents, is pulled from citronella grass. The oil is mixed into candles, sprays and lotions to repel the pest. Apply sprays to your exposed skin or place candles around you outdoors.

Geraniol Candles

Geraniol is a plant-based ingredient taken from geranium flowers. Geraniol effectively keeps insects away, including sand flies, making it a common additive to bug repellents. It is sometimes added to candle-based repellents, similar to citronella. When the candle burns, the geraniol releases, repelling sand flies from the area. According to Good Housekeeping, a single geraniol candle or diffuser repels sand flies for a 10-foot radius.


If the outdoor area where sand flies are a problem has access to electricity, set up a stand fan. Because of their small size, sand flies prefer not to fly around and bite during breezy whether. Turning on a fan helps repel them for you.

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