10 Fly Control Products to Protect Your Horse from Flies

Where there are horses, there are bound to be flies. Aside from being a nuisance to your horse, these pesky flies can lead to physical discomfort or illness. Every year, your horse will likely come into contact with a variety of fly types, including midges, house, stable, bot, deer, horse, and horn flies. These pests can cause frustration and illness as they land on and sometimes bite your horse. They are infamous for depositing the bacteria they’re carrying, leading to irritation, open sores, and disease.

Midges (commonly called black flies) can cause serious annoyance and effects on your horse. These swarming gnats love to feed in areas with running water. Streams and small creeks are a natural attraction to them. They also love aquatic plants and vegetation, including the moist dew typically found in horse pastures. These pests typically attack the head, ears, eyes, and nose. Not only can associated blood loss cause health issues, their saliva commonly causes intense itching, irritation, and swelling. The non-stop annoyance of these pests can cause your horses to relentlessly exhaust themselves trying to escape from the attacks. Some species of black flies can also cause vesicular stomatitus, a disease that can infect horses, cattle and pigs.

House flies breed in manure piles, trash, spilled feed, bedding, animal droppings, and any other area that might have decaying matter. They love barns. Even though this type of fly is non-biting, they can be very annoying to your horse. Since they typically live around moist, dirty conditions, they can carry considerable amounts of bacteria, and have the potential to transmit numerous diseases and parasites. They are drawn to cuts and scrapes on your horse, which can lead to infection in otherwise minor injuries.

The stable fly is also attracted to barns and horses. They breed in wet straw and manure, spilled feeds, grass clippings, and various other types of decaying vegetation. The stable fly feeds on blood several times a day, and can be a major nuisance to horses. Horses being bothered by stable flies will often kick and stomp since these pests love attacking horses’ legs and underneath the belly. Stable flies are known to be capable of transmitting disease, such as equine infectious anemia.

Bot flies attach their eggs to your horse’s legs. During this stage, your horse may incur weight-loss from running around or stomping. However, the direct impact comes from the eggs being ingested by your horse which happens by licking or biting at the afflicted areas. The mouth can develop sores and irritation causing a lack of appetite. Once your horse has fully ingested the bot eggs, the eggs hatch into larvae and attach to your horse’s stomach lining. This can cause colic, stomach blockages, ulcers, and anemia.

The deer fly and horse fly are both part of the family Tabanidae. They produce painful bites and inflict immediate pain to your horse. They penetrate the skin in a scissor-like action and pump anticoagulants into the wound to feed from your horse. Not only are these bites extremely painful and a source for infection, the bloody, sponge-like mouthpart of female deer and horse flies harvest numerous viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. In large numbers, these flies can cause anemia.

The horn fly is a blood-sucking fly that is most commonly seen around horses pastured with cattle. These flies typically swarm the animal which is not only irritating, but can also cause a loss of blood due to incessant biting. This can lead to anemia and weight loss, in addition to the stress they cause to horses.

Since flies can be a dangerous nuisance around the barn, it is essential to provide fly prevention in the stable. The care you provide your horse during fly season will protect and relieve your horse from fly-related irritations and illness. Good fly control around your horse’s body and face using fly sheets and fly masks is vital to a healthy, comfortable horse.

Here are ten fly control products can help you in the effort to protect your horse from flies.

Ten Products to Control Flies around Your Horse

  1. Rider’s International Stretch Micro Mesh Fly Sheet. This soft, breathable mesh fabric conforms to your horse’s shape while also stretching with movement. Protects your horse from insects, sun and dust.
  2. Rambo® Fly Buster™ Fly Sheet. This lightweight long-wearing sheet is ultra breathable and features the No Fly Zone™ technology. The odorless, colorless No Fly Zone™ technology helps to repels flies, ants, ticks, chiggers, and midges and remains effective through 70 washings. Also protects against UV damage and sun bleaching.
  3. Farnam Swat Clear Ointment. Protect wounds, the ears and other areas around the face with this botanically derived ointment.
  4. Absorbine UltraShield EX. Moisture from your horse’s sweat attracts flies. This water-based formula repels biting insects for up to 17 days, while also providing a coat conditioner and sunscreen. Provides a weatherproof and sweat resistant formula.
  5. Cashel® Cool Crusader™ Fly MaskProvides excellent protection from pests and harmful UV rays. Durable and comfortable. Many design options available, including, with or without ears, as well as a standard nose length or long nose that protects the nostril area.
  6. Flies Be Gone TrapThis non-toxic fly trap effectively decreases the fly population in a 50- to 100-yard area for up to four weeks at a time.
  7. BuggzoDried apple cider vinegar that’s pH-buffered and aroma-controlled garlic are the mainstays behind this eco-friendly bug repellant. A truly palatable garlic-vinegar based feed-through fly protection.
  8. Fly Predators. Get a little help from nature with fly control problems. These tiny flies will not sting, bother or bite you or your horses, but they will destroy flies in the cocoon stage, thereby reducing the population.
  9. Fly Country Vet® Dispenser Kit†. A battery operated automatic fly and insect repellant dispenser. Repels and kills flies, mosquitoes, and gnats 24-hours a day for 30 days.
  10. Fly Wraps®. Protects your horse’s sensitive legs from pests. Soft shearling lining and imbedded stays. 24 hour protection. Comes in a set of 4.

Tips for Discouraging Fly Populations

  • Keep manure and trash away from areas frequented by horses
  • Control moisture that attracts flies
  • Maintain clean stalls, aisles, pastures, and confinement areas for your horses
  • Use large fans to keep flies away
  • Turn off barn or stall lights, which attract flies

Consistent Fly Control Treatment Produces Results

Particularly during peak fly season, it’s critical to apply fly control products to your horse on a daily basis. Likewise, maintaining a clean environment for your horse will reduce the attraction for flies and the laying of eggs, which exacerbates the situation. We have a large variety of products available to help you protect your horses’ comfort and health.

Jessica Adcock is a lifelong equestrian and a member of the e-commerce team at Dover Saddlery, a leading retailer of quality English horse tack, supplies and riding apparel for horse and rider.

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