Allies in Fighting Flies

Horses of yesteryear only had tails and each other to fight flies. The fly control battle today offers many more allies and tools in your arsenal. Here are tips to help.

Horses of yesteryear only had tails and each other to help them fight flies. The fly control battle today offers many more allies and tools in your arsenal. This is important because flies can carry disease through bites and act as mechanical transmitters of disease, such as pigeon fever. Because they irritate horses and cause them to stop their feet freqently, flies can actually be the cause of hoof, ligament and tendon damage. Flies also are irritating to humans, and neighbors of horse properties often complain of the increase in flies on their properties.

While horses and humans can always expect to have flies, we have compiled a list of recommendations and allies that can help you eliminate some flies and reduce their impact on you, your horse, and your property.

Manure Management

Flies live and reproduce in your horses’ manure, so you need to attack them where they start. Keeping stalls and paddocks clean is the first step. Spreading the manure is the best solution, breaking up and drying out the flies’ home will decrease their presence. Spreading is a science in itself; know how much manure you’ve got and don’t overspread on small acreages. A good rule of thumb for spreading is one horse’s manure for every five acres. Of course, you should check with your local agriculture extension agent for specifics in your area.

If you do pile up your muck, consider location as well as composting. If not cared for propery, a large pile of manure is a prime location for fly reproduction.

General cleanliness follows in this vein. Don’t allow standing water near your corrals, clean water buckets weekly, keep grain covered and sweep up excess hay, muck and dust in the barn. This reduces the areas where flies can breed and live.

Bugs vs. Bugs

In recent years, fighting flies with other insects has become a desirable solution for horse owners wary of chemicals. As with any method, there are several options. The first is fly parasites. Fly parasites are beneficial tiny insects, harmless to all animals, that can easily control flies.

Fly parasites kill flies in their developing stages while they are in the ground. The female fly lays her eggs wherever there is decomposing organic material. Within a short period of time, the microscopic fly maggot burrows into the manure and eventually develops into a cocoon. In that area you sprinkle about a teaspoon full of live, hatched fly parasites. The tiny female fly parasite seeks out her host and deposits her eggs inside the fly cocoon, thus stopping the adult fly from hatching.

Fly parasites must be replenished on a regular basis to ensure that you have the best fly control. They can never become a nuisance because they have a very short life span.

Wasps are another option that operate much like the fly parasites and can be purchased in a species that doesn’t sting.

Finally, an adult fly’s natural enemies are birds and bats. While you may already have birds around your barn, bats are easy to attract with the use of a bat house placed on the southern side of your barn. Keep in mind that bats carry rabies in many parts of the country, so make sure all of your animals are vaccinated against rabies.


No matter what you do, you will still have flies in your barn. A single fly can produce up to 1,000 offspring within a month. Trapping them is an effective way to kill the adults. Plus, seeing your horse’s agitator disabled does make you feel as though you’re helping.

The most common trapping products are the jars filled with an attractant, either natural or chemical, wherein flies are lured in and can’t escape. Another effective and time-honored method is fly paper. Place either or both of these contraptions liberally throughout your barn, runs and corrals. If your house happens to be near the barn, you may even want to put a jar near the back door.

Chemical Attack

The chemical aspect of fly control ranges from automatic misters set up to control an entire barn, to feed-through fly control to spray bottles. Look for the chemicals pyrethrin, cypermethrin or permethrin in any of the spray fly control products.

There are numerous variations of chemical applications for horses. Some are vapor repellants, which merely keep the fly from landing on your horse. Others, usually the ones containing permethrin, are lethal to flies, and the fly will die shortly after it lands on your horse. Many products contain a combination of pyrethrin and permethrin; a fly spray and repellant combination.

Spray on, spot on, wipe on, sweat-proof, long-lasting, sun screen, coat conditioning, wound safe and all-natural are all fly control application options from which to choose. To decide what’s best for you, consider how often your horse is out of the barn. If he’s out of an otherwise fly-free barn for a few hours a day, a simple vapor spray-on might be best. For show horses, a coat-conditioning fly spry might be right. If you’ll be working your horse outside all day, consider a sweat-proof spray with sunscreen protection. For mares or retired horses turned out to pasture, you should look into a long-lasting wipe. Thin-skinned horses might need a diluted or all-natural spray. Basically there is a broad enough spectrum that you’re sure to find one that best suits you and your horse.

For a larger-scale attack, the automatic misters are also very effective. Most companies will work with you to customize a program that will most efficiently combat the fly problem in your barn. Again, the options are nearly limitless in regards to what kind of spray you use.

Finally, the feed-through fly control options are worth considering. If you do choose a feed-through option, you should begin the regimen in spring, before you see the first flies. Feed- through fly control stops the larvae, but not adult flies, so you will need to use other control measures as well.

On-Horse Devices

On-horse fly control is the final method of defense against flies. Fly masks and blankets are the most common, and some companies offer products with ears. Fly wraps are also an option. These devices are breathable mesh wraps that wrap around the horse’s lower leg and can eliminate stomping and pawing.

For your convenience, below are the names, contact information, and some information from companies that have fly control products. This is not an exhaustive list; exclusion from this list does not indicate any negative indicators against the company or product.


Spalding Laboratories

Fly Predators


Tired if swatting? Simply sprinkle a small sack of Fly Predators on your manure as soon as the weather turns warn and you’ll prevent files from becoming a nuisance. Then in the summer release Fly Predators monthly to keep the fly population down. These tiny, USDA-approved insects are the natural enemy of flies, but THEY never bother people or animals.

If a fly never emerges, it won’t bother anyone. By comparison, applying spray to a horse only discourages flies from landing on that horse, but IT does little to control the fly population.

For 27 Years, Spalding Labs has supplied Fly Predators to horse owners nationwide. Over 80% renew the next year, so you know they work.

The Source

Biological Fly Control


Fly Parasites are beneficial insects that nature has programmed to attack and kill flies. They lay their eggs inside the immature stages of flies and the fly becomes food for their young. Just release around the breeding site for a sensible and easy method of fly control.


Fly Parasites Biological Fly Control


Fly parasites are beneficial tiny insects, harmless to all animals, that can easily control flies. They are extremely cost effective and easy to apply. They are Nature’s safe and easy way to control fly populations.

Arbico’s experienced staff can tailor a program to fit your particular needs depending upon the number of horses or animals you have on your farm. Research shows that using our good bugs every two to three weeks in a program throughout the duration of the fly season will give you the best fly control and allow you to discontinue the use of harmful chemicals. Fly parasites can be used in any type of climate.

Fly Parasites kill flies in their developing stages while they are in the ground. The female fly lays her eggs wherever there is decomposing organic material. Within a short period of time, the microscopic fly maggot [[larval stage]burrows into the manure and eventually develops into a cocoon [pupal stage]. The tiny female fly parasite seeks out her host and deposits her eggs inside the fly cocoon, thus stopping the adult fly from the hatching.



Captivator Fly Trap


This insecticide-free trap features a break-resistant, reusable jar which holds up to 20,000 files. The patented formula contains three feeding attractants plus a fly sex pheromone that files can’t resist. For outdoor use only. Each 2-quart trap comes with one 15 ml tube of attractant. Fly attractant is also sold separately in a 2-pack. Fly attractant may be used with Terminator Fly Trap.

Atlantic Paste and Glue

Dynamite 911 Black Light Glue Trap


Not a zapper, this non-toxic product is safe, effective, discreet, economical and easy to maintain. The black light attracts files and other pests where they are trapped by glue traps. When full, slide the trap out and replace.


Spray Master System

Pyranha Incorporated


Pyranha manufactures the patented Spray Master System for automatic insect control. It dispenses specially formulated insecticides for the most cost effective solution to the insect control problem. Pyrannha’s EPA-registered insecticides contain natural pyrethrin to provide instant knockdown of files and mosquitoes with no foul odor and offer extended outside barn protection.


Automatic Insect Control System


Shoo-fly’s Automatic Insect Control System consists of a 55 gallon drum, 1/3 HP motor, self priming pump and a timer. The nozzles and fittings are brass and stainless steel. The three insecticides used in the systems are all biodegradable and are not harmful to you, your employees, your animals or the environment. They have units that have been in operation for over 15 years and are still going strong.



Coat-So-Soft Spray


This pesticide-free botanical spray provides lasting relief from flies, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. Safe for sensitive horses, it soothes the skin, leaving the coat feeling soft, healthy looking and refreshed. Gentle enough for everyday use. Contains a unique blend of rosemary, chamomile, comfrey extracts and vitamins A and E.

W.F. Young



A ready-to-use, fast-acting insecticide for horses, livestock, dogs and cats to protect against house, stable, horse and deer flies, lice, fleas, ticks, gnats, mosquitoes and a host of other insects. Also for use as a surface spray to control cock-roaches, ants, beetles, spiders, crickets, cadelles, meal worms and mites. Contains natural pyrethrins in a water base. Leaves no oily or objectionable residue.


Super Shield Green

All-natural, ready-to-use horse spray offers a safe, effective alternative to chemical insecticides. Super Shield Green contains herbal extracts and essential oils known to provide natural protection against biting flies. It also contains aloe and Ianolin to condition the coat and to soothe and relieve insect bites and minor skin irritations.




Citronella scented Equi-Spot Spot-On Fly Control for Horses from Farnam is a perrmethrin-based spot-on repellent that kills and repels house flies, face flies, horn flies, eye gnats and ticks on horses. It also helps control mosquitoes. Dog and cat owners accustomed to using spot-ons will love the convenience of Equi-Spot for their horses. Sold in three-packs of 10 millilitre tubes, Equit-Spot offers lasting protection for 14 days and is easy to apply.



For those who prefer to use a repellent spray, Farnam offers Endure Sweat-Resistant Fly Spray for Horses-a highly efficacious, long-lasting, sweat-resistant fly spray. Endure contains a unique conditioning agent called RepeLock that binds sto the hair shaft, allowing it to work in wet conditions or when the horse sweats. Endure provides control for upto 14 days against biting and nuisance files, gnats, mosquitoes, lice and deer ticks. Includes a sunscreen to protect against both forms of harmful ultraviolet rays. Contains cypermethrin, pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide.





This product is used in the feed to prevent the development of stable and house flies in the manure with 99% effectiveness. Equi-Trol passes quickly through the digestive system and will not harm domestic animals coming in contact with treated manure. May be fed to pregnant or lactating mares, foals and stallions. Remains active for up to six weeks. One 3.75 lb pail treats a 900-1,100 lb horse for approximately 60 days, feeding 1 oz per day.

Triad Specialty Products

Serene Feed-Through Fly Control


Serene Feed-Through Fly Control for horses is a revolutionary way to cut fly populations before they ever get off the ground-literally.

By adding Serene Feed-Through Fly Control to your fly control regimen, You will drastically reduce the number of flies in and around your stable. As an additional benefit, this new product also helps you reduce the need for pesticide sprays. With good basic barn hygiene and control of migrating adult flies, you can achieve a level of fly control you never thought possible.

The active ingredient in Serene Feed-Through Fly Control has been used as a feed-through fly control in chickens for over 20 years. The ingredient targets flies specifically, with no effect on mammals or beneficial insects. And unlike other oral fly control products, Serene Feed-Through Fly Control contains absolutely no organophosphates.


Hug Coverings, LLC


Hug Closure horse blankets use a simple system of overlapping chest panels with elastic straps that allow your horse to eat and move without any shoulder binding or rubbing. He is more comfortable, moves more freely and looks better without the unsightly traditional blanket rub marks on his coat. It is the best choice for horses that spend long hours in stable or turn-out blankets.

The fly sheet with a full neck is actually an extension of the blanket from the chest. This makes a wrap-around neck with no gaps anywhere-your horse is completely protected.

Fly Wraps


Fly Wraps act as a physical barrier to flies, preventing them from landing on your horse’s unprotected legs. This can cut down dramatically on stomping. The Mesh fabric allows breathability; veterinarians use the wraps to protect cuts and wounds while using the air flow to speed healing. The wraps are washable, and can be adjusted to fit your horse.

A full plush trim prevents rubbing. One size fits horses form 14 to 18 hands; special orders are also available. The wraps come in red, blue, green, and white. Each set includes four wraps.

Cashel Company

Crusader Fly Mask


The Crusader Fly Mask features a three-hole cap design [ for ears and forelock ] which provides stability and a great fit. The eye dart design, wider ears and nose offer a safer and more comfortable fit. Long style nose gives extended protection down to the nostrils. The nose features a sewn-in frings under nose panel to discourage flies. Finally, UV protective mesh provides shade. Simply hook and loop straps to fasten together. Machine wash, line dry.






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