In the summer, flies are an indispensable part of horses. They are very annoying for horses but also for us when we are around horses. In the summer you can hardly be fly-free in the environment of horses, but you can limit the inconvenience for your horse and yourself. Control flies in horses in a smart way. You can do this in several ways: by catching flies, expelling them or protecting your horse against flies with special equipment.
- What types of flies bother horses
- The midget
- The stable fly
- The house fly
- The horse louse fly and the deer louse fly
- The daas
- The hornet
- What can you do to combat these insects?
- Catching insects
- Make the environment unattractive for (horses) flies
- Protect your horse
- Foods against insects
- Your horse will be happy for the summer
What types of flies bother horses
There are several flies and other insects that bother horses at different times of the year. For example, horses can already suffer from the knut. From April there will be the stable and house fly Bee. In May the horse lice fly, from June the daas and from August, the hornet joined this list. Finally, the deer louse fly the queue from September. In what ways do these insects bother our horses?
Midges are tiny. They are mosquitoes that are most active at sunrise and sunset. They lay eggs in running water and are mainly active in the spring and early summer. The midge mainly bites the horse around the head and often causes an allergic reaction in the horse due to its bite. As a result, horses get very itchy and can develop summer eczema.
The stable fly
The stable fly is very similar to the house fly. The stable fly stings your horse to suck its blood like a mosquito does. The stable fly mainly targets the legs of your horse. Like a mosquito bite, the stable fly’s sting is painful and itchy. The stable fly loves moist places in and around the stable.
The house fly
The house fly is widely known. This insect’s favorite place is around the horses’ eyes. They feed on the protein in the tear fluid. As a result, the eyes of horses often become inflamed with the result that even more tear fluid is produced. Flies make good use of this and return with even larger groups to feast on the moisture.
The horse louse fly and the deer louse fly
The horse lice fly is a small fly that mainly settles under the tail and in the groin of horses. Probably because the skin is thinner there and so it is easier to sting. This fly stings and sucks the blood of horses. This feels very annoying for a horse, which can cause them to run wild. Precisely because they are so small, a horse does not know exactly where the animals come from, but they do feel it. This mainly causes a lot of stress. The horse lice fly is mainly found in wooded areas. The deer louse fly is the little brother of the horse lice fly and causes nuisance in the same way as its big brother.
The badger is most active when it is warm and sultry. They are mainly found in wooded areas, but also near the water. The badger searches for the vulnerable parts of the skin to sting. A horsefly bite is very painful and causes a bump with a sore. Horse flies can often be found in droves and they attack a horse very aggressively. They even fly when a horse starts running.
People often confuse hornets with horse flies. But hornets do not have a stinger and therefore cannot sting. Yet horses often react very violently to hornets. These insects lay eggs on the horse’s coat. You can recognize the eggs by the yellow dots in the coat. Horses can ingest these eggs by licking their fur. As a result, they become infected with hornet larvae. The larvae then cause considerable damage to the horse.
What can you do to combat these insects?
It is impossible to keep your horse completely free of insects in the spring and summer. However, you can do a lot to minimize inconvenience. A smart way to combat flies is to take measures on many fronts at the same time. You can do this by catching insects, by providing insects with an unattractive environment, by protecting your horse with anti-fly equipment and even by providing your horse with food that will make insects dislike your horse.
From the moment you observe flies around the meadow, you can start hanging fly traps. These are easy to make yourself, but you can also buy them ready-made. If you make your own fly traps, make sure you use fly attractants and not sweet solutions that also attract other insects such as bees. Since we really need these insects, it would be bitter if they end up in the fly traps. The moment you detect the first horseflies, you can start placing horsefly traps. These are also very easy to make yourself, namely with a black bucket and horsefly glue. But you can of course buy horsefly traps. In the stables you can hang large adhesive strips on which flies stick. You can even control flies with predatory flies and parasitic wasps. These insects feed on the larvae of the stable fly and do not cause any nuisance themselves.
Make the environment unattractive for (horses) flies
Flies are attracted to manure, moisture and heat. If your horse is still in the stable during the summer season, it is worth wondering whether there is no other option. You do your horse a lot of fun with more space and movement, also at night. If you do use the stable in the summer months, make sure that you remove the manure and wet spots from the straw every day and that no food residues are left in the house. Also, flies don’t like drafts. Open all doors as much as possible when your horse is not in the stable and turn on a fan when your horse is in its box. Flies also prefer to stay in dark rooms than in light sheds. That is why the walls in many stables are (partly) painted white.
Outside you can also make the environment less attractive for flying. First of all, you can ensure that you remove all manure from the pasture on a daily basis. Then there is also the option to place plants around the paddock or pasture whose scent ensures that flies prefer to stay away. These are the following plants: lavender, marigold, rosemary, lemon balm, lemon geranium and catnip. The elderberry also keeps flies and mosquitoes at bay. You can also ensure that it is very attractive for birds outside. Birds catch a lot of insects and thus also help to control pests.
Protect your horse
All the above measures will ensure that you experience less nuisance from flies and other insects. However, your horse will still be harassed. When it gets really annoying for your horse, you can put on a fly mask. That way, his eyes are protected and they won’t get infected. When insects like the badger start to sting, you can use a fly blanket, preferably including the neck. Fly rugs are also available in the form of a exercise sheet so that you do not suffer from flies while riding. Again, flies like dark more than light, so a light colored fly rug keeps the flies at bay and keeps your horse cooler in the summer. In the evening and at night you can take off the mask and the blanket. At times when the nuisance is less, you can also suffice by spraying your horse with anti-fly spray. You can make this spray yourself. There are various recipes available on the internet. The main ingredients are often vinegar, tea, garlic, cloves and essential oils such as lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree and cedar. These sprays are of course also available ready-to-use. In addition to all this artificial protection, it also helps if you let your horse’s mane grow so that insects are less likely to sting on the neck.
Foods against insects
Garlic is also sometimes fed to horses to be less attractive to insects. However, large amounts of garlic are not good for horses because of the substance N-propyl disulfide. This is evident from a study in 2005 at a Canadian university in Guelph. Besides garlic, there are also supplements on the market that make the horse smell and taste less attractive to insects.
Your horse will be happy for the summer
If you try to apply all of the above measures, you will notice that you suffer less from insect pests. If you also provide a place where your horse can stand in the shade and roll in the sand, your horse will be a lot happier into the summer.