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Once the weather turns hot and humid, here come the flies! We all know how much these horrid creatures pester our horses, and us when we are working around them. Try these 10 Natural tips to keep these pests out of our horses’ homes so they can live and rest stress free.
1. Organic Fly Baits and Traps
Fly baits attract the mature fly via odor. The fly either drowns in the trap or eats the bait.
Look for EPA approved and Organic products to protect your livestock, pets and human.
Balance™ biopesticide bait is a naturally occurring fungus (beauveria bassiana) and “host specific” pathogen, targeting and killing flies without affecting humans, other animals, or the environment. Balance™ contains no toxins or neurotoxins such as pyrethrins, pyrethroids or neonicotinoids. http://www.terregena.com/
(Neurotoxins are toxic agents or substances that inhibit, damage or destroy cells or tissue in the central nervous system. Neurotoxic effects can include behavioral changes, seizures, or death.)
EPPS Biting Fly Traps safely use soap and water, and trick flies into approaching, where they hit deflectors and ricochet into the soapy water tray below. The trap is effective against biting flies, including horse, deer, bull and stable flies. See www.horsehealthusa.com .
2. Fly Predators
A biological fly control system using tiny insects that prey on the flies in their larval state, aims to stop the cycle of fly infestation before it begins. Simply releasing the tiny insects into manure piles and other areas in which flies commonly lay their eggs can reduce the number of flies by as much as 80%. The people at Organic Control, a supplier of the tiny creatures, say, "the gnat-sized insects don't bother humans or animals as they are nocturnal, do not bite or sting and are rarely even seen, but when used as directed they can dramatically reduce the fly population."
Fly Predators should be dispersed in the fields, over the composting manure and where water is still. Also against light-colored walls where flies congregate. Avoid spreading in the stalls, we have other methods for the pests inside!
3. Leg Protection
Mesh leg wraps protect the horse’s legs without overheating sensitive soft tissue. Use wraps that are durable and will not loosen or slip down the horse’s legs, risking more serious injury as they stomp their feet or travel. Remove wraps at night when flies are dormant.
Summer Whinnys™ high tech polyester socks by Sox For Horses, embedded with silver and copper ions, keep legs cool while keeping flies from biting through. Silver and copper ions inhibit bacteria, fungi and mold in the socks, which are easy to put on, durable, and offer inexpensive protection. Natural, non-toxic, protection for the whole horse. See www.whinnywarmers.com .
4. Clean Feed Tubs Daily
That yummy feed that attracts your horse also attracts flies. If feed tubs are attached to a wall, scrub out as conscientiously as your dinner plate. Preferably use only plastic or rubber tubs that can be removed from a stall after each feeding and cleaned.
5. Clean Water Buckets Daily
Flies love to hang out “poolside” and will (ugh!) relieve themselves around the rim of your horse buckets. Scrub buckets daily to remove fly feces. If you have automatic waterers, remove old water and swish away fly residue.
6. Screen-in Shady Stalls and Run-in Sheds
Closing doors facing South and East reduces sun intensity but increases fly congregation. Use mesh/screened products that allow air circulation but keep flies out.
7. Season Grain With Garlic
Garlic may be one of the most researched and talked about herbs in equine and human health fields. Among all the wonderful things garlic can do for us and our animals:
- natural fly repellent
- anti-fungal action
- anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties
- arthritis combatant
- blood thinning capabilities
A main component in garlic is allicin, which is very sensitive to heating, microwaving, steaming or pickling. When purchasing garlic for your animals, look for cold processed and non-irradiated processing. Hand-crushed fresh garlic is not recommended, as it can be harsh to the point of blistering your horse’s mouth. Look for a reputable equine manufacturing source as opposed to buying bulk at your discount stores.
Related: Garlic Natural Insect Repellent
8. Dust With Diatomaceous Earth
Watch flies fall when this natural, mineral-based pesticide burns through their wings while leaving horses unscathed (Note: Avoid getting the fine dust near horses’ faces). Diatomaceous earth is a naturally-occurring mineral compound made from the microscopic, fossilized remains of prehistoric algae-like plants called diatoms. The diatoms built up into deep, chalky deposits of diatomite, and these deposits are mined and ground up to render a powder that looks and feels like talcum powder.
9. Keep Stalls and Run-in Sheds Clean!
Pick up manure at least twice daily, cover your manure spreader with fly netting, and keep manure far away from your daytime shelter. Spray the manure with organic fly control to kill the adult flies or spread predators on the pile to kill larvae.
10. Use Essential Oils
The following essential oils are known to be unpleasant to insects. They should be mixed with water or a lotion, or blended with oils so that they are diluted in strength. Straight essential oils are too concentrated to be used directly on an animal and may cause toxic side effects. I recommend not mixing more than two or three oils together because this can cancel out the properties of the oil.
When mixing a lotion or wipe-on insect repellent, use a natural aloe vera base lotion diluted with 40-50% water or Witch Hazel. The Witch Hazel helps to keep the skin from clogging. If making a spray, use one-third lotion, one-third witch hazel, and one-third water, with one-quarter to one-half ounce of essential oils, depending upon the oil. This can make 16-32 ounces of spray, depending upon how strong you need to make your repellent.
Insect Repellent Blends: If making a lotion, add less water
1/2 oz. Lavender
8 oz. Aloe Vera Lotion
1/8 oz. Rosemary
8 oz. Water
Blend # 2:
8 oz. Vinegar
1 oz. Garlic Oil or 1 Bulb
Crushed thru cheese cloth
(use straight or mix with unscented Aloe Vera Lotion)
Blend # 3:
1/2 oz. Lemongrass
1/8 oz. Peppermint
8 oz. Aloe Vera Lotion
8 oz. Water
Blend # 4:
1/2 oz Cedarwood
1/4 oz. Juniper
8 oz. Lotion
8 oz. Water