Fly-Free Zone: How to Keep Your Stable Fly Free
The warm weather can be a welcome time of the year for horse owners because it is a time you can really reap the benefits of owning a horse and spend time outdoors with them and take your horses for a ride. The unfortunate side effect of the warmer climate is that it also means the arrival of all types of insects, especially flies, which can cause a lot of trouble for horses during the season.
This is why it’s so important to be proactive and take steps to protect your horses from flies and other pests so they can enjoy their time out on the pasture or in their stable and be comfortable. The more you equip yourself with knowledge of common flies, you can then come up with a solid plan to control them and keep them at bay.
Identifying The Most Common Flies And What Attracts Them
The warm season coincides with fly season and there can be a variety of different flies that can show up in a stable or pasture and make life difficult for your horse. The most common fly is, of course, the house fly which will show up as to breed in horse manure and filth and hover around your horse and have them moving and twitching trying to bat them off their face and body.
Even if you’re good about cleaning up manure and disposing of it, house flies may still be buzzing around and making themselves at home on your home. You may have wondered what is it about your horse that makes house flies so eager to stick around?
House flies, actually have an affinity for all the openings and fluids of your horse. House flies don’t feed on your horse directly but will consume the moisture and eye secretions of a horse and nasal discharges. This is why when you see house flies near a horse, they are always around the mouth and nose.
If your horse has a wound, they will feel on that too which can be dangerously unsanitary for your horse to have filthy flies on their wound. They will also gather around moisture around the horses genitalia. Being a horse, you can only imagine how aggravating and uncomfortable it would be to be standing in a pasture all day and having these flies all over you.
The more damaging fly to horses though is the stable or horse fly, which closely resembles the house fly with one key difference—these flies bite and will sink their mouthparts into your horse to feed on their blood.
Common diseases flies can spread to a horse
When you get an entire swarm of these flies around ripping into your horse, being outside is sheer torture for them. Aside from being annoying, these flies also bring along the risk of spreading disease which could affect your horse and even you if you’re not too careful. Below is just a small list of issues that large infestations of flies can inflict on defenseless horses.
When various species of flies like house flies and stable flies target the eyes and other areas of horses and feed on the secretions, they can potentially transfer parasitic nemotode larvae to those sensitive parts. While the larvae is unable to grow into adulthood on these body parts, they in turn become a catalyst for a nasty condition which forms on the horse in the called summer sores, a chronic wound that will be unable to heal around the eyes, nose, genitals and mouth.
Another condition that flies which like to hover around the face of a horse spread are eyeworms which are a nematode worm which will live in the eye ducts and socket and will be a terrible irritation for the horse and can lead to infection. If you look closely at a horse’s eye who has eyeworms, you may even spot a tiny worm squiggling around in their eye.
Various fly species like the house fly and stable fly are known to spread a bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, which is the agent which causes pigeon fever. The symptoms of this disease show themselves via the development of abscesses on the horse and in more severe cases these abscesses can develop internally and affect the horses limbs.
Constant biting on horses from stable flies and gnats can take its toll on a horse to the point that they break out in hives, suffer from intense itching, hair loss, thickening of the skin, ulcers and other infections that will make the horse feel absolutely miserable.
As terrible as these diseases sound, there are actions that you as an owner can take to drastically reduce a fly invasion and protect your horses from the misery that these intruders bring. The following are the top tips we recommend.
So Here are 6 Easy Steps to Help Banish Flies From Your Barn:
The most important thing you can do to dramatically lessen the fly invasion means having to deal with swift and proper disposal of horse manure. Manure is what brought the flies to the area in the first place, they just happen to stick around and do damage to the horses while they are in town. Keep your stables and pasture lands as clean as you possibly can to take away those prime breeding sources for flies to lay their eggs, reproduce and grow their numbers.
Use a shovel or pitchfork and take the manure and transfer it to another area, far away from where the horses are. If you can travel to dispose and dump the manure right away you could stow the manure away in a covered dumpster. Other ideas is re-purposing the manure as fertilizer. Flies are gonna come from near and far for manure so there’s no legitimate way to completely stop them but you could at least try to redirect them away from being around where your horses are.
2. Addressing moisture issues
Aside from manure flying insects also love moisture. For example, mosquitoes are another common flying insect that can spread disease and bite on horses and unlike flies, they like to breed on stagnant water. Addressing land drainage issues, and reducing wet areas can reduce these flying pests as well. Keeping the area as dry as you possible can, checking for leaks and finding where rainwater accumulates can also help.
When your horses urinate, make sure to clean that up and change their bedding frequently so their sleeping areas are kept as dry as possible for the sake of reducing breeding zones.
3. Introduce Biological Predators
A method of pest control that is usually not thought of is using natural predators to address the influx of flying insects. There are parasitic wasps which you can actually purchase and introduce to the area and they will go after flies and their larvae while doing no harm whatsoever to your horses.
Another predator that can be a non-chemical option of pest control is keeping bats around. Bats love to eat flying insects like mosquitoes and are known to eat up to 1,000 flying pests in the span of an hour.
If you want an eco-friendly way to drastically reduce the fly invasion, this is definitely something to consider for the sake of protecting your horses.
4. Fly Traps
Fly traps are a great easy, hassle free method of controlling flying insects as you can just set or hang these traps up and let them do all the work for you. Fly traps work by luring the fly to the trap either via a visual stimuli like a light or bright color, or via an attractive scent. The fly will be drawn to the trap, get themselves stuck and unable to escape for they eventually die. Dead flies means less breeding which means less flies around.
You can either use a sticky fly trap which can be affordable and effective or you can even use a fly light trap which can be a light you hand up which will lure the fly to a glue board. The key is to hang these traps where the flies are but away from the horses to deviate them from where the horses hang out.
5. Protective Gear For Your Horse
Unfortunately, even with the most diligent natural fly control methods, it’s practically impossible to totally make it so there’s no fly around in sight to pester your horse. However you could provide them with some relief by making them wear protective gear like a fly sheet or fly mask.
Fly sheets are especially great to use to protect your horse’s body from biting flies. Fly masks protect a horse’s their face, eyes and ears, taking away the mucus openings that flies love to get into.
There are different types of masks and sheets out there that use different materials. Some of these materials can actually make make your horse sweaty and hot and just be a new mode of discomfort so if you do choose to go this route, you may have to make a compromise.
6. Fly Insecticides and Repellents
Despite all your efforts to keep flies at bay and protect your horses, the most sure-fire way to discourage flies from hanging around is the use of insecticide sprays and repellents.
Thankfully, there are products out there that have low-toxicity while still being effective. Some can be used as an area spray where you would treat your fences and stables so that flies die the moment they land on the sprayed product, while other products you can spray directly on your horse to deter and discourage flies from landing upon your horse or go anywhere near your horse.
The type of insecticide you choose depends on your preference but there are many products out there for fly control that simply do not work so it pays to do your homework and see what people have said about certain products.
Our fly insecticides and repellents come ready to use and when used as directed on the label, are absolutely safe to spray around your horses. They will only harm the flies while sparing your horses.
For really severe fly infestations, installing a spray system can work miracles in keeping flies away completely around your horses. These spraying systems release a mist of chemical that irritates or kills flies and other flying insects so they steer clear of the area, leaving your horses untouched so you can really enjoy your time with them and ride them without issues.
Owning horses can be a rewarding experience but it comes with the responsibility of protecting horses from pesky flies and the diseases they carry. By doing your due diligence and modifying the environment via manure management and reducing moisture, you can lessen the swarm of flies that will be flocking to your horses, but if you really want to make a dent to the infestation, it’s important to be active and use proven insecticides and traps to send a message to those irritating flying pests that you are not messing around.
Order our fly control products today and be one step closer to making your horse stable free of flies. Your horses will thank you!
I would like to try this fly spray but as a 501c3 rescue with a lot of horses, a 32 oz bottle would be gone in a day. How can i buy the larger refill bottle. I cannot find it.
We offer a gallon size bottle as well with an attachable sprayer.
PF Harris MFG