Summer is here. With that comes a lot of fun activities for you and your horse. However, summer also brings out the flies, who are looking for sources of food and ways to breed. Here is everything you need to know about keeping your horse and stable free of these annoying pests:
What are the common horse pests?
Horse flies are a very specific species of large fly, but they aren’t the only kind of fly that can bother you and your horse:
● Blackfly: Commonly misidentified as “gnats.” Unlike most gnats, blackflies bite. They are easy to miss sometimes, because they tend to bite horses inside of their ears. A good way to tell if blackflies are bothering your horse is if their ears are sensitive, twitching, and have small bumps.
● Botfly: These don’t bite, but they use horses as a breeding ground. They lay eggs on their legs and wait for the horse to ingest them. Once they enter the horse’s mouth, they will hatch and burrow into soft tissues like gums, cheeks, or under the tongue. They will then move to the stomach, build a cocoon, and emerge in the manure to become adult flies.
● Face Fly: These flies are easy to recognize, they tend to be found right on a horse’s face around the eyes. Face flies feed on the secretions from your horse’s eyes. They will eat blood from any open wounds.
● Horsefly: A large species of fly. They can be found all over the planet, but prefer to breed in warmer climates. They are named because they are often attracted to horses. They are scavengers who drain blood and can leave itchy, painful welts behind.
● Housefly: Unlike other flies, house flies don’t bite your horse. However, they love to breed in horse manure and once hatched will buzz around irritating your horse. They may not cause any physical risks but they can put your horse in a really bad mood.
● Stable Fly: Named because they are most often found in stables. They live around your horse’s legs to bite and feed on the blood. The bites can really sting and be a serious source of irritation for your horse.
These nasty pests can be found in stables all over the world and can put your horse at risk for some pretty serious illnesses or diseases.
How horse flies are a health risk
Any pest that feeds off of blood can be a serious carrier of illness and infection, including all of the different biting horse flies. Some of the most commonly transmitted diseases include:
● Mechanical Dermatitis
● Allergic Dermatitis
● Equine Infectious Anemia
● Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis
● Western Equine Encephalomyelitis
● African Horse Sickness
● Vesicular Stomatitis
As well as a long list of other bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
How to get rid of horse flies
Completely getting rid of flies is impossible when you take your horse outside. However, there are a lot of things you can do to help reduce their presence and keep them from irritating your horse. These include:
Clean Out Your Stables Daily
Many species of flies are attracted to manure. They feed off it and use it for breeding. So make sure that you clean out and rinse down your stables every day to remove any manure.
Once the stables are clean spray Equi-Spa Peppermint Summer Protection around the area and on your horse blankets to stop these pest from coming back. Peppermint Summer Protection is a natural, plant-based bug-repellent that is safe for your and your horse. (check out label of your current brand of pest repellent – does it tell your to wear breathing protection, gloves, etc. when using it? Do you really want to be spraying that stuff around where your horses sleep?) You can also hang fly traps, just make sure they are in a safe area where they can’t hurt your horse.
Keep Your Pasture Clean
Remove piles of manure from your horse pasture to help reduce the presence of flies. This can seem like a pretty massive task, however, if you do it daily it won’t become a problem. I like to just go out with a bucket and a rake, it gives me time to enjoy the weather. Fortunately, horses are picky grazers so they often defecate in the same areas.
Adjust Their Diet
There are some things you can add to your horse’s diet that will help reduce flies, especially botflies that breed in their stomach. I’ve found apple cider vinegar can make a lot of difference and I include some simple recipes in my e-guide Ancient Herbal Wisdom For Natural Horse Care which you can download for free here. However, I recommend always speaking with your vet before making any changes to your horse’s diet. They’ll be able to make recommendations specific to your horse.
Groom Your Horse Daily
Daily grooming is the most important way to keep flies at bay and to give you an opportunity to detect any bites or wounds before they become infected. Cleaning around their face and eyes will remove the face-flies’ source of food. Keeping their legs and hooves clean and free of manure will help keep stable flies away. Flies love dirty horses. So the cleaner your horse, the less likely they will be to bother them. While grooming look for signs of bites our irritated skin especially around the ears, eyes and dock. If you do find signs of insect bites, apply The Balm. This will help the bites heal naturally and will keep other pests from feeding off the wound site.
Following these simple tips will help keep flies away. With a little support from Equi-Spa’s natural pest control products, you’ll be able to protect your horse all summer long. Furthermore, you won’t be replacing one dangerous irritant with another. Though effective, chemical pesticides present an array of health risks to your horse. Our products are effective at keeping the bugs away without the risk of unhealthy side effects.