Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fly Control

Since fly season is just beginning here in the Pacific Northwest, I thought we might all share our ideas on what works to keep these nasty little critters off our horses. We are lucky in this neck of the woods because we have a relatively short fly season. Our nightly temperatures often dip below freezing right through Mother's Day, so that even though we've had highs in the 65-75 degree range (perfect horse weather) the nights have been cool enough to kill off what flies have hatched.

But that is changing now, as the days and nights become consistently warmer. Our fly season basically lasts from about May through late September to mid October, or until we get our first hard freeze in the fall. Some of you probably have longer fly seasons, and some may have constant battles with flies. I'm sure we all have solutions, or are looking for solutions, so feel free to comment on your success stories so we all may share the information.

Here's what I use:

I love the ecologically sound use of fly raptors (or fly predators - depending on which company you use.) These tiny insects are ordered and shipped inside fly pupae. You get a shipment every 3 weeks or so, and you order the amount you need depending on how many animals you have. As they begin to hatch you sprinkle them around your property near manure sources. The tiny little insects (smaller than gnats) don't bother anyone - except the flies. They burrow into fly pupae and lay their eggs, and the newly hatched insects destroy the flies before they hatch.

These work great as long as you are careful with pesticide use, and don't have close neighbors with an out-of-control fly problem.

Here are a couple of sources I have used for these fly-killing insects:

The Source Ecological Fly Control: http://www.sourceecofly.com/

Sometimes in late summer, I need a bit of additional fly control on my animals. I know a lot of people use fly masks. But for me, it seems like a lot of effort to put them on in the morning and take them off each night. (Plus for some reason, I just don't think I'd like to look through mesh all day long.)

What has worked for me is a product called Swat, a paste you apply around the horse's eyes and on the tender spots under their bellies. (And plain vaseline sometimes works just as well, also, but makes a bit of a mess.) And right before I ride, I might wipe the horses down with flyspray sprayed on a mitt, so that it doesn't drift off and kill the beneficial insects working to kill your flies.

These are the products that work for me. Are flies a huge problem where you live? What do you use to keep your horses comfortable? Please comment and let us know.


Beth said...

I have a big black percheron without a tail, docked before I got her. Fly flock to her. The only thing that really works with her is a fly sheet.

I also don't clip the hair in her ears, although if I am going to ride I do use a natural fly spray. I am trying it new this year so I am not sure how well it works yet, but even the chemical versions don't work all that well so this can't be any worse.

I have used the leg straps in the past and those worked really well with a ottb but Abby is too big, they won't fit around her legs.

OneDandyHorse said...

I use SWAT around the eyes and in the ears of my horses. It works great! I don't like putting fly masks on my horses, especially since Dandy already has issues seeing. I use Absorbine fly spray for the rest of the time... if needed or if we are heading in the woods for a ride. We don't have a lot of domestic flies, but deer and horse flies are awful. We also have tiny blackflies and mosquitoes that constantly bite us.

I live in the province of Quebec and we experience much of the same in terms of weather and insects.

If anyone is desperate to keep the flies out of their horse's eyes, try SWAT, you don't need to use a lot and you don't need to put it way close to the eye and it is very effective. It lasts for about 2 days! You can also put it on scrapes and cuts safely to keep flies off.

Linda Benson said...

Beth - a friend has a horse allergic to midge bites, and she has to keep a sheet on it all summer. What are leg straps? You mean on the sheet, or is that a fly repellent? (I like your donkey pic, by the way);-)

OneDandyHorse - yes, I like Swat because it is safe to put right on wounds, so I don't worry about it on the face too much. It seems a bit spendy, but a little jar lasts a long time. Great product!

Laura Crum said...

My banty chickens peck through the manure for fly larvae--which helps. I also use fly traps. I will have to try your fly eating insects.

I have used Swat--I guess I just hate the way it looks on their faces--silly, I know. My flies are not so bad, most of the time--I will wipe on a fly spray when I ride if the horse seems unhappy because of the flies. I have one horse that loathes fly spray more than flies--doesn't matter how I apply it--I think he hates the smell (me, too).

All my horses have very long tails and manes/forelocks. This helps, too. Nonetheless, flies are a nuisance. At least we don't have much problem with deer flies or horse flies here. Its mostly domestic flies.

Francesca Prescott said...

I use fly spray on Kwintus, but he also wears a mesh rug and a fly mask when out in the field as he really goes nuts with the flies. He also tends to break out in huge welts. About a month ago I started adding a garlic supplement to his feed which is supposed to ward off flies naturally. You can increase the dose gradually (which reminds me that I should!), and some people attest to getting good results. I've never tried this before, so I'll have to let you know if it helps. It doesn't make him smelly; well, I can't smell anything, but I guess the flies can (or are supposed to)! Have any of you ever tried this?

Linda Benson said...

Laura - Swat used to only come in pink, which looked ugly, but now comes in a clear color.

Francesca - let us know how the garlic works out. Sounds like a cool idea!