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Easy Fly Control Tips for your Horse and Barn

Summer means long sunny days spending time with your horses. There’s only one problem…. bzzzz… those biting insects!

Flies, mosquitos, mites, lice and other biting insects can quickly turn your trip out to the barn into a miserable experience.  They cause a constant bother to your horse — hanging out on faces, legs, or crawling into their ears. 

Biting insects can also cause allergic reactions in some horses.  They may cause dangerous health problems like equine infectious anemia, sweet itch, onchocerca, black fly dermatitis, summer sores and more.

So, what’s a savvy horse person to do? Well, there are some pretty simple things you can do to protect your horses from these bothersome bugs.  Check out our list of bug busting tips below!

Keep your barn area spic ’n span!

Ever notice how much worse the flies are in your horse’s stall when it’s dirty?  That’s because house flies LOVE manure, sweat and urine.  Keep your horse, stalls, pens, and other areas as clean as possible.

Your manure pile should be located away from the main barn area. Then, have the manure removed or spread on a field weekly to avoid pile up. Proper manure management is a good way to prevent the spread of external and internal parasites.

Use fly repellents and roll ons.

There are many options when it comes to products you can use to keep the bugs away. Deet is one of the most common active ingredients in non-natural repellants.  You also might find products with organic pyrethrin created from the chrysanthemum plant.  Some people will make their own fly spray using ingredients like cedar, citronella, peppermint, tea tree oil, or apple cider vinegar.

One thing to note: insecticides will actually kill the insects while repellants will simply keep them from landing on your horse. Some products actually combine both of these actions.  Find the product that works best for your horses and use it regularly.

Remember, hair acts as a natural protective barrier for your horse. So, if you trim your horse’s whiskers and ears for shows, make sure you apply extra fly repellent to help keep bugs away.

Protective gear: zebra print for the win!

There is a wide range of fly protective gear you could get for your horse. Fly sheets are light coverings with built-in fly repellent your horse can wear out in the pasture. Then, fly masks are mesh face coverings that keep bugs away from your horse’s eyes and ears.

You also might consider a fly fringe your horse can wear underneath his bridle during rides.  The woven fabric hangs down onto his face and keeps flies away. The options don’t stop there.  They even have fly collars, fly leg wraps, and full riding fly blankets! 

Just pick the one your horse will tolerate the best and get started. Be sure to remove the fly protective gear regularly to prevent painful skin rubs or flies caught underneath the garment.

If you’re not sure what color would compliment your horse the best, consider zebra stripes! Scientists have recently learned that zebra stripes actually discourage blood-sucking insects.  The bugs become disoriented when they look at the white and black stripes, so they stay away. 

A sticky solution to trap those flies.

Fight back against stable and house flies by using fly traps.  These traps will either attract their victims through sight or scent.  You should actually hang your fly traps away from the barn so you don’t risk attracting more flies into your indoor areas.

You can also hang sticky traps and tapes inside the barn to catch flies when they land to rest.  Just be careful that you don’t also catch small birds, bats or beneficial insects on your sticky traps.

Blow the bugs away.

Biting insects are pretty small little guys, so a small breeze feels like a gusty hurricane to them!  That’s why something as simple as increased airflow can help eliminate a fly problem in your barn or horse trailer.

Place large fans at a 45-degree angle blowing area into your barn and it will help cut down on flies.

Standing water, go away!

Biting insects love to hang out in wet areas, so the dryer you can keep your barn area, the better. Standing pools of water give insects an easy place to grab a drink and also a handy breeding ground.

Mosquitos are the biggest threat when it comes to standing pools of water.  They are known carriers of diseases like Eastern equine encephalomyelitis and West Nile virus.

Keep pools of water from forming around your farm in old tires, barrels, or feeders.  Make sure your pasture has good drainage and be sure to repair any plumbing leaks before they cause a problem.

Your horse’s water supply should be kept as clean as possible.  One method is to add a few goldfish to the trough.  They will eat any algae that forms along with any mosquito larvae they find.

Keep wasp nests out of the trailer.

Wasps love to build their nests in little crooks and crannies. Check your horse trailer regularly to make sure they haven’t decided to move in and set up camp.

Hang a bat box.

Mouse problem? Get a cat! Bug problem? Get a bat!

Birds and bats are natural predators for insects. Hanging a bat box on the southern side of your barn is an easy way to attract a family of bats to help control the bug population.  Bats can gobble up to 1,000 flying insects in just one hour!

Feed-thru fly control.

And lastly, why not give your horse the power to destroy their local fly population?

Feed-thru fly control products like SimpliFly are actually fed to your horses. After digestion, the product stays in your horse’s manure and prevents flies from using the manure to breed a new generation. This product would need to be used consistently to see a noticeable difference in the fly population — but the results can be quite impressive!

Just remember, flies can breed in places other than manure, so this shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore the other tips on this list.

There you have it.  Simple fly solutions to keep those nasty bugs away from your barn!

Sources:

Michigan State University: Top 5 Tips for Protecting Your Horse from Insects

Stable Management: Insects that Bite Horses and the Diseases They Share

Horse and Rider: Fly Control Options for Horse and Barn

Equus: How to Protect Your Horse from Flies When Riding

The Horse: Flies and Bugs - Protect Your Horse

Farnam.com: Protect Your Horse from Flies - How Feed Through Fly Control Makes a Difference

Dover Saddlery: How to Protect Your Horse From Flies



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