Reduce Flies On Your Horses and Property

Here are some helpful tips to help you decrease the flies, thus decrease their negative impact on you, your horses and the people around your facility.
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flies face gray horses

Horses can not only be annoying, but they can carry diseases to horses and humans.

How can you as the owner or manager of a horse farm or stable reduce the fly burden on your property? You know that flies can irritate horses and humans, sometimes to the point of endangering one or both. Horses stomp when flies land on their legs, potentially causing damage to their legs and feet. Flies can create sores on horses, they carry diseases, and they annoy not only you, but your neighbors. 

So what’s can you do? 

Here are some helpful tips to help you decrease the flies, thus decrease their negative impact on you, your horses and the people around your facility.

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Manure Management

Flies live and reproduce in your horses' manure, so you need to attack them where they start. Keeping stalls and runs 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, consider location as well as composting. However, a large pile is a prime location for fly reproduction.

General cleanliness follows in this vein. Don't allow for standing water near your corrals, clean water buckets weekly, keep grain covered and sweep up excess hay, muck and dust in the barn.

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 predators, tiny wasps that don't sting animals or people. These beneficial, tiny insects can easily control flies.

Fly predators kill flies in their developing stages while they are in the ground. The female fly lays her eggs wherever there is decomposing organic material. Those eggs hatch and become larvae, which eventually form a cocoon before hatching into the next generation of flying pest. When you spread the fly predators in that area, the tiny wasps lay eggs in the fly cocoons, thus stopping the adult fly from hatching.

Fly predators must be replenished on a regular basis to ensure that you have the best fly control. They don't become a nuisance because they have a very short life span.

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.

Trap

Even with the advantages of the above and below listed techniques, flies will likely appear at your barn. A single fly can produce up to 1,000 offspring within a month. Trapping them is an effective and fulfilling way to kill the ones that got away.

The most common trapping products are the jars filled with an attractant, either natural or chemical, which lures flies in where they 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 and 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, which usually contain 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 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 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 regard to the 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. However, it is never too late! 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 sheets are the most common, and some companies offer head and face protection 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.

BUGS VS BUGS

Spalding Laboratories Fly Predators

Tired if swatting? Simply sprinkle a small sack of Fly Predators on your manure as soon as the weather turns warm 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 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 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.

TRAPS

Farnam 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 also sold separately in a two-pack.

Catchmaster Glostik Flying Insect 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.

CHEMICAL ATTACK

Large Scale

Pyranha Incorporated Spray Master System

For whole barn fly control, rely on the Spray Master Barn Misting System Kit. SprayMaster Barn Systems include a one-half horsepower electric motor-driven pump controlled by a solid state electronic timer that is programmed to dispense an insecticide formulation in the form of a very fine mist at specific intervals through special spray nozzles. The result is a state of the art, hassle-free solution to control of harmful flying and biting insects in and around horse barns. The system is expandable up to 80 stalls. Install in an afternoon!

Features: Everything you need to install the system in a four-stall barn (expandable up to 80 stalls with the purchase of additional hose and nozzles). Automatically timed spray intervals keep your barn virtually fly free. Easy to install with basic tools.

Shoo-fly Automatic Insect Control System

Shoo-fly Automatic Fly Insect Control Systems begin with an electric pump that turns on at preset times and cycle you have selected day and/or night. Strategically placed nozzles emit a fine mist of water-based insecticide throughout your barn or outside areas around your home. Safe for children, adults and animals when used as directed. Shoo-fly emulsifiable insecticides meet all EPA safety standards.

SPRAYS/WIPES/SPOT-ONS

W.F. Young Flys-X

This is a versatile, economical, ready-to-use insecticide. It leaves no oily residue and can be applied directly to horses, pets, livestock, and barns. Made with natural Pyrethrins, it protects your animal from flies, lice, mosquitoe and gnats. It can even be applied to surfaces to control cockroaches, ants, beetles, spiders, crickets, cadelles, mites, and mealworms

W.F.Young UltraShield Green

All-natural, ready-to-use horse spray offers a safe, effective alternative to chemical insecticides. UltraShield Green contains herbal extracts and seven 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. Can use on horses, ponies, foals and dogs.

Farnam Equi-Spot

Citronella-scented Equi-Spot Spot-On Fly Control for Horses from Farnam is a new 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, Equi-Spot offers lasting protection for 14 days and is easy to apply.

Farnam Endure 

For those who prefer to use a repellent spray (also available in a roll on), 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 to the hair shaft, allowing it to work in wet conditions or when the horse sweats. Endure provides control for up to 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.

FEED-THROUGH SOLUTIONS

Farnam Equi-Trol II

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 1b pail treats a 900-1,100 lb horse for approximately 60 days, feeding 1 ounce per day.

Farnam SimpliFly

SimpliFly with LarvaStop is a highly palatable feed additive to prevent the development of stable flies and house flies in the manure of treated horses. LarvaStop breaks the fly life cycle by preventing the formation of fly larvae’s exoskeletons when they molt (resulting in their death). This product contains no organophosphates and can be used as part of an integrated pest management program. SimpliFly with LarvaStop is a reduced risk pesticide.

  • Clinically proven feed-thru fly control
  • Kills larvae in the manure of treated horses before they mature into adults
  • Contains no organophosphates
  • Highly palatable - just add to feed
  • The ONLY equine feed-thru fly control granted reduced-risk status by the EPA
  • Available in 3.75 pound (60-day supply) 10 pound (160-day supply) 20 pound (320-day supply) and 50 pound (800-day supply)

Zoetis Solitude IGR

Solitude IGR (cyromazine) is an entirely innovative way to keep flies, and the disease they bring, away from your horses. As a safe, easy dose, it works in manure to prevent flies from developing into adults. Treat all your horses and the result is a comfortable, nearly fly-free environment. Solitude IGR is a feed-through fly preventive which, when mixed ½ oz into a horse's ration daily according to the directions, will prevent house and stable fly development.

  • Repeated studies show up to 100% efficacy in inhibiting larvae development.
  • Significant results may be observed within two weeks but the full benefit should be realized within 4-6 weeks of administration as the adult populations die off.
  • Solitude IGR is intended for use only in equidae, including horses, mules and donkeys.

Cyromazine, the active ingredient in Solitude IGR, is an insect growth regulator that works on the fly's chitin exoskeleton and is very species specific to house and stable flies.

  • As the horse is fed cyromazine, it passes through the horse and is excreted in the manure.
  • House flies and stable flies lay their eggs in the manure and the eggs subsequently hatch into the larval or maggot stage. (Cyromazine has no effect on the chitin of the adult fly.)
  • As the maturing maggots feed on the manure treated with cyromazine, they become unable to successfully develop into adult flies because cyromazine inhibits the proper formation of chitin.
  • The immature stage of the fly dies.

Cyromazine has a well documented safety and efficacy profile. It has been extensively evaluated in horses since 2001 as well as intensely studied in other species for more than 20 years.

Numerous environmental studies have documented cyromazine's safety for mammals including humans and horses, as well as birds, daphnia, minnows and other indicator species.

ON-HORSE DEVICES

Cahsel Fly Protection Leg Guards

Fly Protection Leg Guards come in various sizes for a perfect fit. When you purchase the set you get:

  • Set of Four Leg Guards
  • Durable mesh leg wraps eliminate sun sensitivity and prevent flies from biting your horse's lower legs
  • Helps reduce annoying stomping and insect-induced stress.
  • The unique design inhibits sagging and shifting
  • Hook-and-loop closures provide an adjustable fit, adapting to your horse's conformation.

Cashel Company Crusader Fly Mask

The Crusader Fly Mask features a three-hole cap design (for ears and forelock) that 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 fringe 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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