Before you learn how to make homemade fly spray for your horse, you must understand what you are fighting and why it’s worth it.
Most horse owners believe that they have to tolerate flies for their horses. During summer, when they are incredibly fertile, there are vast numbers of troublesome and biting flies, from mosquitoes to flies, making it difficult for horses to endure the summer seasons.
In this case, most horse owners never rest until they get fly sprays with heavy chemicals to deal with this situation. Though the chemicals are safe, there is a need to use homemade natural strategies to minimize insecticides. They are safer and less toxic compared to the manufactured ones.
Why Fly Control is Important
Flies in horses are unavoidable and usually irritating to both the horse and its owner. Besides, they transmit dangerous diseases and infections. And if you wonder where they love to settle, filthy places with bacteria and infections are their best accommodation. That’s why fly control is vital for a healthy horse.
Types of Pest
All flies are annoying, but some are more troublesome than others. Here are some flies that explains how they can affect your horse and where to track them:
Stable flies are bloodsuckers whose bites are usually painful. The flies love feasting on the flanks and the legs and are active during the day and most fertile in decaying or old manure. They carry Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA).
Most people mistake face flies for house flies. They don’t bite, but they are as much annoying. You are most likely to find them on the face of a horse, especially the eyes and nose. You will also find them on open wounds.
Face flies are active during the day. However, they don’t like blood but are saliva, mucous, and tears suckers. They carry horse-eye worms and pinkeye.
Punkies or Gnats
Gnats infest areas with short hair, such as the inside of the ears. When a gnat infects, you will notice some spots that appear bloody and crusty. They breed in marshes, muddy ponds, and near stagnant water. They are active at dusk and carry African Horse Sickness.
You will mostly find these flies in swampy areas. Horseflies bite and love attacking the neck, legs, chest, and withers. Horseflies are active during the day and carry EIA.
Horn flies are the smallest species of flies, and you will primarily find them in fresh manures and areas with pasture. They are active during the day and attack by biting the belly and chest of horses. They carry midline dermatitis.
Ticks bite and suck blood. They mainly attack the tail, head, ears, and legs. They carry various diseases, one being Lyme disease.
These insects are bloodsuckers that are mainly active at dusk. They are most fertile in stagnant water. They carry West Nile Virus, Equine Encephalitis, and EIA, among other dangerous diseases.
These flies are common and almost impossible to avoid. Points of attraction include garbage, disturbed manure, and even humans. They carry germs and diseases.
What a Fly Spray Contains
Fly sprays come in various versions. Some have a complete repellency so strong that a fly can’t afford to go close. Others have sweat resistance ingredients, natural properties, and skin conditioners.
Common fly spray ingredients include;
- Permethrin – permethrin kills insects after landing on the skin or hair. They last longer and do well even under sunlight.
- Pyrethrins – don’t allow flies to land and feed on the horse since they contain vapor barriers.
- Citronella oil – this repels flies and maintains a pleasing scent.
Homemade Fly Sprays
There are various good manufactured fly sprays to choose from, but the problem is the heavy chemicals in them! Not that they’re inadequate, but you will need to reapply them. And you wouldn’t want your horse loaded with chemicals, would you?
Fortunately, natural ingredients are effective in repelling insects and flies in horses. Therefore, you can make yourself a homemade fly spray and save the cost of purchasing a manufactured one.
Homemade Fly Spray with Listerine
Listerine not only repels insects but also gets rid of itchiness and dandruff in a horse’s tail. However, ask for your vet’s approval before using it on your horse.
Preparations and Prescription
- Mix baby oil and Listerine. An effective Listerine contains methyl salicylate, thymol, eucalyptol, and menthol. Test its irritability by applying some on the skin.
- Apply the mixture on the hair roots, head, and tail dock. With that, it will kill itchiness and dandruff.
- Avoid your horse’s face, especially the eyes, when applying. If you notice any side effects, consult your vet.
Homemade Fly Spray with Tea Tree Oil
Most commercial fly sprays include tea tree oil as one of their ingredients. The tea tree oil comes from paperbark trees and Melaleuca alternifolia leaves. It’s worth noting that Australians have used its oil for centuries as repellants and antiseptics. It can be used to repel any insects and is suitable to use both at home and in animals, including horses.
- Add warm water to tea tree oil and stir (use your preferred measurements).
- Store the mixture in a spray bottle and shake it before spraying it on your horse.
- Add tea tree oil and green soap to a bowl.
- Add rubbing alcohol into the mixture and stir.
- Store the repellent mixture in a spray bottle, and shake well before spraying on your horse.
Tea tree oil makes topical fly repellant. It’s suitable to use on both humans and pets. You may add neem oil to make it more effective.
However, tea tree oil may affect some animals and humans since it causes skin irritation. Always test irritability on a small part of the skin before applying it to the whole body.
Homemade Fly Spray with Vinegar
What you Need
- Citronella oil
- Lavender essential oil
- White vinegar
- Liquid soap
- Lemongrass essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Spray bottle
The prescription is simple; mix the ingredients and shake them before spraying!
You may try other types of essential oils. Don’t keep up with the same recipe for a long time. It’s better to switch the formula to change the scent of your repellant.
Homemade Fly Spray with Apple Cider Vinegar
What you Need
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Rosemary essential oil
- Basil essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Liquid oil -opt for mineral oil, canola oil, or olive oil
- Dish soap
Mix the supplies and spray them on your horse frequently. Shake well before spraying and be cautious since the repellant has a strong scent.
More Natural Ways to Get Rid of Flies in Horses
You can still use homemade strategies to eliminate flies without mixing anything. These steps are environmentally friendly and less toxic to keep your horse healthy and free from flies and chemicals.
Proper Manure Management
Manure attracts mosquitoes and insects. However, you can prevent this if you properly manage the waste.
You can create confinement to dispose of and cover the manure to compost the waste, which is always favorable since flies hate compost manure.
Ensure you cover the compost to prevent rain from causing mud and contaminated stagnant water. You can also build gutters on your horse stables and farm to prevent rainwater from running in the compost heap.
Proper Pasture Management
Graze your horse with dry pastures, especially during the winters and the beginning of summer, preventing the horse from creating muddy grounds. It protects the horse from biting insects like horse flies, deer flies, and mosquitoes. You can feed your horse on wet pastures when the areas are dry.
Keep racking the fields to avoid the manure from piling up. With that, the waste and the pastures will evenly mix. It will keep off insects and flies and allow the manure to produce necessary nutrients for plants to use.
Also, use footing tools or materials to help drain rainwater to reduce mud.
Physical barriers prevent flies from landing on the horse, one of them being a fly mask. Fly masks are more than fly repellants; they also prevent horses from suffering sunburns. They have various shapes; some cover the eyes while others protect the whole face, including the ears.
Alternatively, you can use light and cool horse blankets to keep the whole body off from insects. There are also fly boots to protect the hooves and legs.
Identify the Helpful Bugs
Point of correction; Not all insects are pests! Surprisingly, only about 2% are pests. There are beneficial insects that reduce other pests by feeding on them.
One of them is the fly parasite, which lays eggs on the fly pupa. That strategy prevents further breeding of flies. Fortunately, they are harmless to you and your horse. They are too tiny to recognize them easily. Furthermore, they only appear at night.
Invest in Birds that are Insect Eaters
Another way to reduce flies is keeping birds that feed on insects on your farm. One of these birds is swallows; they feed on bugs and go to extreme depths to collect them. They can consume more insects a day compared to insecticides.
Famous beneficiary swallows include barn swallows, purple martins, violet-green swallows, cliff swallows, bluebirds, and tree swallows. Apply nesting to attract more of these types of birds.
Bats feed on insects, which is a relief to both humans and horses. At night, one bat can eat 5000 flying insects in an hour! You can purchase one and keep or build a bat box to attract one in your home.
Install Fly Traps
Use non-toxic fly traps on your farm to reduce the flies in the barn and yard. You can install sticky fly traps hanging from the ceilings or above the doorways to trap flying insects. Ensure you install them in sections that won’t stick on the horse’s mane or tail and human hair.
Alternatively, you may hang sticky tubes with bright colors. These tubes have scents that repel flies.
Homemade fly sprays work, but their effectiveness doesn’t last like the manufactured ones. Though they only repel the flies and do not kill them, they fulfill the same results with no chemicals involved.