We want our horses to be safe and comfortable during the summer months. It is also critical to protect the environment from the fall-out of chemical insecticides. Consider these environmentally friendly alternatives as part of your strategy against the impending invasion of an air-force of insects.
"Who would have thought that ancient single celled plants could be the answer to your fly problem?" asks Susan Schultz of Basic H-S Acres. Schultz considers Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) to be the perfect pest control solution for environmentally responsible stables.
D.E. is a white powdery substance that really isn't earth at all, explains a representative at Perma Guard, a company that specializes in diatomaceous earth products. Rather, D.E. is the fossilized shells of single celled plants called diatoms. The powder adheres to the bodies of insects, killing them, but leaving all other living things unharmed. Sprinkled on surfaces near the ceiling where flies tend to congregate, dusted on walls and scattered on the floor, D.E. doesn't just kill flies, it repels them for weeks.
"I just wouldn't be without it," Schultz declares.
Another way to effectively control flies in the barn is to trap them. The "Mr. Sticky" fly control system has the best features of fly traps without the odor that has been known to draw flies from long distances. Simply roll out the sticky surface of the trap and secure it to the place in your barn where flies tend to gather. The surface has a white strip that draws local insects and encourages them to land on the sticky substance. When that sheet of sticky tape is covered, simply reel it up into the other end, rolling out a new sheet in the process.
HEAD THEM OFF AT THE PASS
"I'm not really big on spray insect repellents at my barn," says Jean Liestman, the owner of a large Minnesota stable. "It just isn?t efficient to spray all those horses down before they go outside." Liestman uses a product called Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis, or Bti, to control the tough mosquitoes.
Easily broadcast over standing water areas, Bti is a larvaecide; when consumed by the mosquito larvae, it is completely effective in killing the existing larvae and remains active for weeks. Arbico Organics, a supplier of Bti, explains that the product is safe and environmentally sound because it is highly selective, killing only mosquitoes and black flies. "Bti contains no poisonous chemicals and it is completely harmless to other living things," assures the staff at Arbico.
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."
Equilite, Inc. provides a feed supplement of 100% cold-pressed garlic that effectively repels insects from the inside out. Fly Away GarlicTM repels biting flies when used as a regular part of any feed program (added bonus: garlic has traditionally been used to help support a healthy immune and respiratory system and it is reputed to have antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties). The company also offers RicochetTM Horse Spray, an essential oil blend with a refreshing citrus scent, that is a great coat conditioner all year long.
If shielding the horse, rather than controlling the insect invasion, is the goal use products that don't contain dangerous insecticides and irritating repellents. Aloe Herbal Horse Spray (available from Espree) is an effective, concentrated spray that uses natural fly repellents in conjunction with hair conditioners and sunscreen. "We have found a product that is all-natural, contains no harsh chemicals and features conditioners that improve the quality of the coat,? report retailers of the product, " and the best part is that it is very effective at repelling insects."
Squadrons of insects are hatching every day, especially throughout the summer months. Choose control products that not only effectively safeguard your horses from flies and mosquitoes but protect the environment as well.