Fly Control Strategies for Your Barn



       By Amy Cairy
   Absorbine Marketing Manager, Equine Division

From horse flies, stables flies, mosquitoes, and more, flying insects have been pestering horses and humans for thousands of years. These winged warriors can interrupt peaceful pasture time for your horse and also detract from your ability to enjoy time around the barn. Beyond the sheer annoyance flies can cause, they can also transmit a variety of diseases. While it may be impossible to create a fly-free barn for you and your horse, there are simple steps that you can take to help reduce the number of irritating insects that call your barn home sweet home.

Manure Management:

Keep your stalls clean and dry by removing manure and any wet bedding each day. Besides reducing fly attracting odors, regularly cleaning and replacing stall bedding eliminates the warm moist environment that flies prefer for laying eggs – helping to reduce the overall fly population. Many types of flies also feed on manure, so removing this food source can go a long way in helping to deter flies from your barn. In addition to keeping stalls clean and dry, regularly removing manure from the pasture will also help to eliminate the prime breeding and food source for many flying insects.

Premise Sprays:

To combat adult flies inside the barn, consider using a premise spray. Premise sprays can offer quick knockdown of flies and other insects that are already in the barn and also help deter new ones from entering. Fly sprays like UltraShield® EX can perform “double-duty” as a premise spray, but make sure to check the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. When using a premise spray, you’ll want to concentrate around the outside of doors and windows to discourage insects from coming inside – essentially you’re hanging out the “no flies welcome” mat for your barn. If you notice an area where flies seem to gather, spray those areas as well to discourage flies from settling there.

Fly Sprays:

To quickly and easily combat flies and provide fast-acting protection for your horse, make sure you have fly spray on hand. Read labels carefully, paying careful attention to the level of active ingredients, and look for fly sprays that will meet your specific needs. Fly sprays like UltraShield® EX and UltraShield® Red kill and repel a wide variety of insects and give you broad protection in your battle against insects. For a more natural option, look for fly sprays like UltraShield® Green that use essentials oils and eco-safe ingredients to repel flies and ticks. If you live in hot humid areas, look for fly sprays like UltraShield® Sport that are sweat resistant. Choose the option that best fits your specific situation and follow the instructions on the fly spray label for proper application. Be careful when applying fly spray as some horses may be afraid of the noise that the sprayer makes. Go slowly and allow the horse time to get used to the noise and sensation of being sprayed. Do not spray horses around the face as you do not want to get fly spray in their eyes. Instead, spray a cloth with fly spray and then carefully wipe it on your horse’s ears and on his face being careful to avoid the areas directly around their eyes.

Fly Mask and Sheets:

A great option for providing protection from flies for your horse’s face and ears is by using a fly mask. There are a variety of sizes, fits, and materials to choose from when it comes to fly masks, but be sure to look for fly masks like the new UltraShield® Fly Mask that will keep your horse cool, dry, and comfortable. If the fly mask makes your horse itchy and sweaty, they will likely work very hard to get the mask off their face and may damage the mask in the process. In addition to fly masks, fly sheets and leg wraps are also available and provide a physical barrier from flies on your horse. Again, there are many different sizes, fits, and materials to choose from when it comes to fly sheets and leg wraps and so you’ll want to find the option that best fits your needs. Fly masks, sheets, and leg wraps should be regularly checked to make sure that they are fitting correctly (not causing any rubs or soreness) and are in good condition (not fraying or having areas that might get caught on objects such as stalls and fences). Check the labels on these items and consider washing them on a regular basis to keep them clean and free of dirt and debris as well.


Ceiling and portable fans are also a great way to deter flies inside your barn. The circulating air makes it difficult for the flies to make their way around the barn. A fan angled to blow air over your horse will make it even harder for flies to land on your horse as well. It is very important to make sure that you use fans and power cords that are specifically designed for agricultural use to reduce the risk of fire.


Whether it’s dropped grain around the feed tub or uneaten supplements and medications, these leftovers can attract flies inside your barn as they look for an easy meal. Empty and scrub feed tubs regularly to remove any material left behind by your horse. The same should be done with water buckets, especially for horses that like to dunk their hay or drop grain into their water buckets. Make sure all garbage cans inside and around your barn have tight fitting lids to prevent flies from accessing the trash as a food source. Regularly remove garbage from inside of the barn, especially any garbage that contains food, and scrub and disinfect garbage cans periodically to remove any stuck on residue.

Using these tips can help you greatly reduce the nuisance fly population around your barn and make time spent outdoors in the nice weather more enjoyable for you and your horse.

Check out the links below to some of the products mentioned:

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