The Q&A Archives: Basil As A Natural Insect Repellent

Question: Is it true that basil grown indoors can act as a repellent for pesty fruit flies? I read about some common herb and I'm not sure if it was basil....

Answer: I have never heard that particular claim for basil, but it is a nice herb to grow indoors nonetheless. In my experience, the best way to get rid of fruit flies is to find the forgotten piece of fruit and dispose of it. However, in some cases people see what they think are fruitflies around their houseplants. These are actually fungus gnats which breed in the damp surface soil of the houseplants. A remedy for these is to allow the soil to dry a bit more between waterings, or, if you have a plant that requires wet or extra damp soil, place a layer of fine gravel or even sand on top of the potting soil. This will discourage the fungus gnats and they should disappear in about two weeks.

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