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FAQ About Fly Control for Horses

FAQ About Fly Control for Horses

Two horses standing in a field with flies on them.

Why is fly control for horses important?

Controlling flies around your horse is important for many reasons. While flies provide many benefits, they can be a pest to both you and your horse. Unlike us, horses cannot effectively swat away flies from all areas of their bodies. Flies can attack your horse’s nose, eyes, and other sensitive areas where horses cannot reach. Flies carry bacteria on their feet, spreading it when they land. This can result in a deposit of bacteria, parasites, and larvae in a horse’s eyes, face, and even open wounds. All in all, fly control for horses is important because of the diseases and potential infections flies can transmit to your horse. It is also important because a horse cannot keep flies away effectively without help.

What diseases can flies transmit to horses?

There are several diseases and skin conditions that flies can transmit to horses. This is why fly control for horses is so important. Some of the diseases and skin conditions flies can transmit to horses include:

  • Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA), also known as swamp fever
  • Sweet Itch
  • Pigeon Fever
  • Vesicular Stomatitis (VSV)
  • Potomac Horse Fever (PHF)
  • Black Fly Dermatitis
  • Summer Sores
  • Onchocerca

Flies can also burrow into a horse’s skin, eyes, and mouth. This can cause diseases such as eye parasites and bot fly larvae infections. Blood-sucking flies, such as mosquitos, can transmit diseases that can be deadly for your horse. This includes diseases such as Eastern and Western Encephalomyelitis, West Nile Virus, and Venezuelan Encephalomyelitis.

What can you do around your barn to limit flies?

You can do many things around your barn to limit flies. There are a few important things to remember when trying to limit flies in your barn. These include maintaining cleanliness, improving air circulation, and using fly control treatments around your barn and on your horse. Maintain cleanliness by keeping your stalls clean, remove wet bedding and manure daily, keep feed tubs clean, and make sure all garbage cans in and around the barn have tight lids. You can improve air circulation by using ceiling and portable agricultural use fans. These fans make it harder for flies to get around and land. Treating your property with premise sprays and protecting your horse with fly sprays, masks, and fly sheets will help keep flies from your barn, land, and horses.

For more information on controlling flies around your barn, check out Fly Control Strategies for Your Barn.

How do you control flies around horses?

Controlling flies around horses requires multiple steps. Ensuring your horse has a quality fly mask and fly sheet helps protect their body and face from flies. Using fly sprays or ointments on your horse also helps give them an added layer of protection against flies. It is also important to make sure their pasture and barn are protected and treated for flies. You can do this by keeping the area clean, eliminating standing water, using premise sprays, and using agricultural use fans. Implementing a fly control strategy for your horse, land, and barn all work together to help control flies around horses.

What is the difference between fly sprays, fly wipes, and fly ointments?

The decision to use fly sprays, wipes, or ointments can depend on your horse’s preferences. It is also great to use them together if possible. Some horses do not like being sprayed, and wipes and ointments help with more skittish horses. Ointments are great to use for protecting wounds from flies, while some fly sprays cannot be sprayed on a horse’s wounds. Ointments are also better to use around a horse’s facial areas, such as their eyes and ears, because they provide a thick, protective coating from flies. Plus, ointments are less likely to get into your horse’s eyes when applying.

What types of chemical fly control can you use on horses?

When choosing a method of fly control for your horse, such as sprays or ointments, it is essential to make sure the product is labeled for use on horses. The most common types of chemicals used to control flies on horses are pyrethrins and pyrethroids. Both are safe to use on horses and work quickly to keep flies and other pesky insects off your horse. Other chemicals that are safe to use on horses include synthetic chemicals based on pyrethrins. This includes chemicals such as resmethrin, permethrin, and cypermethrin. Also, pyrethrins combined with the piperonyl butoxide can increase the overall efficacy of the fly control.

What are some of the best fly sprays for horses?

When choosing the best fly spray for your horse, it is important to factor in the ingredients, how many horses you have to treat, and how often you can apply the fly spray. If you have multiple horses to treat, an aerosol fly spray, such as Pyranha Aerosol Insecticide, is a great option. With aerosol sprays, you can hold down the spray versus constantly pumping like traditional spray bottles. If you are unable to reapply the spray often, it is best to look for an oil-based spray. Oil-based sprays last longer than water-based sprays because they stay on the horse’s coat for a longer period of time. Some of Jeffers bestselling fly sprays include UltraShield EX Insecticide and Repellent, Pyranha Wipe N’ Spray Fly Spray, and Endure Sweat-Resistant Fly Spray.

Is feed-thru fly control safe for horses?

Feed-thru fly control is not only safe for horses but is a great option to add to your fly control strategy. Feed-thru fly control works best when given to horses four to six weeks before fly season starts. Similar to how giving flea and tick control to pets works better when used before you start to see fleas. Feed-Thru fly control is passed through the horse’s manure, and when flies lay their eggs in the manure, the chemicals in the manure prevent the larvae from maturing into adult flies, which helps keep the fly population down.

For more information, check out A Quick & Easy 3-Step Guide to Feed-Thru Fly Control for Horses.

What is the most effective natural fly control for horses?

Natural fly control is great for horses that are sensitive to fly sprays. It’s also a good option for owners who do not wish to use chemicals and prefer a more natural way to rid their horse of flies. The most effective natural fly control options contain essential oils and natural ingredients, such as citronella. Some ingredients used in natural fly control products include:

  • Citronella
  • Garlic
  • Thiamine
  • Cedar oils
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint

For more information, check out Jeffers blog Top 10 Natural Fly Products.

How effective is fly control apparel for horses?

Fly control apparel such as fly masks, fly sheets, and leg wraps for horses work very well to protect your horses from flies. These options provide a physical barrier from flies by protecting your horse’s body, head, and legs. This is similar to when you wear a jacket instead of a tank top when mosquitoes are out. It is best to combine fly control apparel with fly control management on your land and in the barn to work the most effectively.

What are some other fly control options, like traps and predators?

There are many different fly control options for limiting and controlling the fly population. Other fly control options for horses include fly traps, baits, and predators. Fly traps and strips work well to bait catch flies with ingredients and flavoring flies find irresistible. They are also easy to use and dispose of. Fly predators such as Biological Fly Control by Kunafin include parasites that target flies before they hatch. By targeting larvae, these parasites work well with other fly control options such as sprays, baits, and traps to better prevent fly infestations.