Flies, mosquitos, and gnats are a problem for horses on many levels. Insects are a nuisance, carry disease, and create allergic reactions in horses.
When the warm weather hits, it’s time to use fly spray and insecticide to keep your horse healthy and comfortable. The type of insect that visits your horse will decide what methods of fly control to use.
Generic house flies, gnats, stable flies and face flies are small and irritating. They tickle, and horses are often left stomping and swishing their tails.
Deer flies, horn flies, mosquitos, and other larger flying insects feed on your horse’s blood. These bites hurt, and often leave welts.
Ingredients in Horse Fly Sprays
The chrysanthemum flower is the source of naturally derived pyrethrins. Pyrethrins interfere with the nervous system of insects, creating an immediate knockdown effect. Smaller flies are stunned and will fall to the ground and likely die. Large insects will be stunned, and will die if exposed to a larger quantity of insecticide.
Permethrins are a synthetic version of pyrethrin and act in the same way. Most fly repellents last for several hours after application. To enhance their effectiveness, piperonyl butoxide is added to the fly spray to boost effectiveness.
Lanolin and aloe are included in some fly repellent sprays and acts as a coat conditioner.
Other styles of natural fly repellents use essential oils, like peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and citronella to ward off some types of flies. Gnats are usually attracted to these ingredients, unfortunately.
Fatty acids are an unusual ingredient in some new products. These unusually scented fly sprays provide insect control by camouflaging a horse’s natural odor to hide a horse from flies.
Choosing the Best Fly Repellent
With countless brands and formulations available, choosing the best country vet fly spray for your horse can be challenging.
Absorbine is a leader in horse care products, and the Absorbine Ultrashield EX is a water-based winner. With aerosol and spray bottle options, this long-lasting formula also conditions aloe and lanolin.
The Farnam Endure insect repellent is their most popular version. This sweat-resistant fly spray is available in roll-on, sprayer, and continuous spray versions. Farnam also offers feed-through fly control. This supplement contains ingredients that pass through to your horse’s manure. Fly eggs laid there will not develop into larvae.
Farnam Equisect Fly Repellent is designed for sensitive skin and includes botanical and essential oils. Horses sensitive to chemicals may appreciate this formula.
Bronco fly spray for horses, also from Farnam, offers additional choices. The Bronco Gold contains moisturizing ingredients for skin and coat health. The original Bronco formula adds citronella to the ingredients, extending the bug protection to chiggers, gnats, and other annoying insects. Citronella is found in the Pyranha Wipe N’ Spray formulations.
Herbal based sprays are quite popular. Espree’s products, made with botanical oils and aloe, are perfect for the horse with skin sensitivities. Espree offers a spray as well as wipes, which some horses may prefer.
Equine fly sprays with fatty acids, such as Ecovet, offer all-natural fly protection against some annoying insects. Ecovet can also be sprayed in your horse’s living areas to shield a stall or shed from bugs.
Additional fly control options
Effective fly control for horses relies on attacking all stages of the life cycle. Adults can be knocked down and repelled by sprays, topical wipes, lotions, and aerosols.
Keeping your horse’s living areas picked of manure and urine patches removes the habitat for egg-laying. Using feed-through fly control adds another layer of protection against the fly eggs waiting to hatch.
Dressing your horse for bug season is equally important. Fly sheets, fly masks, and fly boots create a physical barrier to stop flies from reaching your horse’s skin. As an alternative to fly masks, fit your horse’s halter with tassels to dissuade bugs from taking up residence around your horse’s eyes. If your horse wears sunscreen to protect his nose and any pink skin, formulas are available to ward off insects.
Flytraps are yet another way to battle insects at the farm. These devices lure flies away from your horse with tempting odors. Starbar Captivator Fly trap can be bags or strips of sticky material.
Work from all angles to protect your horse from flies and the warm weather months will be comfortable and fun for everyone!