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Protect Your Horses with this DIY Fly Control Guide

Camille Landry posted this on May 3, 2017

flies around horsesHorses on a farm can benefit greatly from fly control. Flies aren’t just annoying to humans, they are an annoying pest to other animals in the ecosystem as well. You can definitely see this be the case if you own a barn or work with horses and other livestock.


Flies make life miserable on the range for horses and other livestock especially during the warmer parts of the year when flies flock to barnyards and pastures to feed on horses, especially the fittingly named stable fly and horse fly.


Not only are these flies frustrating to deal with, but they can also be dangerous because of their tendency to spread diseases.


When flies like the horse fly sink their sharp, blade-like mouthparts into a horse’s flesh and feed on its blood, in serious cases, they can potentially cause issues with a horse’s digestive system and can even stunt your horse's growth.


With this being the case, it is imperative if you live amongst or work with livestock to protect both your horse and barn from fly invasions. Here at Solutions Pest & Lawn, we can equip you with all the fly control tools you need to protect your horses and livestock from these irritating pests.


Horse Fly or Stable Fly Background Informationcloseup of a horse fly

To successfully carry out horse fly or stable fly control, you have to know your enemy. While many types of flies can bug your horse during spring and summer, you will most likely be dealing with the common house fly, horse flies or stable flies.  


These types of flies thrive around barnyards where there are horses and livestock because these places provide prime breeding and feeding locations due to the abundance of manure and compost present in these locations.


The typical life cycle of a fly is comprised of four main phases: 1) the egg, 2) the larvae, 3) the pupa, and finally, 4) the adult. The time span that a fly goes from egg to adulthood ranges between 2 to 4 weeks long with adult flies living from as little as 2 weeks to as long a month.


Adult flies usually like to lay their eggs on the manure horses leave behind or on any fresh organic material. Depending on the species of fly, the eggs will hatch within a few days and the larvae will begin to feed on the manure or waste where they have hatched.


The pupa phase of a fly is when the fly continues to develop its exoskeleton. Once the pupa phase transitions the fly into adulthood, the fly is then ready to feast on the flesh of horses.


Effective horse fly control is achieved by using a combination of fly control methods, from sanitation and environmental manipulation to the Solutions specialty, fly control insecticides


Step 1: Manure Managementmanure sweep up

Before breaking out the fly control pesticides, it is important to engage in manual fly control by addressing what is attracting horse flies and stable flies to begin with. It’s pretty obvious from just the smell which occurs with horses in the barnyard that it’s manure. The piles of manure which horses leave behind is practically gold to flies because they use the manure to breed and eat.


Here’s a surprising statistic:  the average 1000 pound horse produces about 50 pounds of manure daily! As a result, properly managing the manure is vital if you want to be successful in your efforts to conduct fly control and eliminating those breeding spots.


Removing manure from barn stalls as quickly as possible is the first step to organic fly control. Not doing this and staying on top of clearing out manure in your horse’s stable is a sure-fire way to create a breeding ground for horse flies.


The more manure removed from the stall the less desirable it will be to flies for depositing their eggs. Once the manure is removed, you will have to stow it as far away as possible from your farm.


Don’t just limit your manure clearing to the horse stalls! You will also need to stay on top of manure that you find around the pasture and other areas where horses are most active. Areas where horses regularly gather such as water troughs, shady areas, run-in sheds, and gates should be cleaned on a weekly basis to hinder flies from breeding in the area.


Remember, it's easier and more effective to prevent fly breeding than it is to conduct fly control. So the quicker you can remove those habitats they find appealing, the less likely you are to see these pests.


Step 2: Horse Fly TrapsFlies Be Gone Flytrap

Now it’s time to break out the insecticides. We recommend first starting out with laying out fly control traps to deal with those horse flies and stable flies.  


At Solutions, we recommend using a = disposable fly trap like the Flies Be Gone fly trap. This fly control trap is an excellent way to control the fly population around your pasture and barn.


Simply unpack, add water and an attractant which comes with the package and hang it outside in an area with heavy activity. These traps have the potential to capture 20,000 flies and can be used for a period of several weeks.


Alternatively you can use fly baits such as QuickBayt Fly Bait.


Step 3: Horse Fly Spray OptionsImage result for misting system barn

If you have a larger horse fly issue, it may be necessary to break out the big guns and conduct some serious fly control. We have a number of insecticides that can work on house flies and horse flies.


If you’re worried about chemicals harming your horses, we even have green products that can work well. For instance, a liquid spray such as Essentria IC3 Natural Pesticide can provide around your yard to deter horseflies from sticking around.


This is a natural product and is safe to apply around your plants and can even be sprayed directly upon cattle and animals as well as your own clothing to repel horseflies from biting and attacking.


For more serious fly infestations we recommend misting. While you can use a mister or a fogger for manual misting, we recommend installing a misting system. Using a misting system like Mistaway Mosquito Misting System is usually for mosquitoes but can also be used around farms and pastures to perform fly control. You can effectively control horse flies using a misting system and a high quality insecticide like Pystol Misting Concentrate


Misting systems that we carry can be controlled using a remote control and customized to your liking. Once the system is installed it can give your around the clock fly control regardless of whether or not you are at the barn.


Step 4: Fly Control Maintenance in the Barn

After you have followed the previous three steps and unleashed a fly control arsenal sure to eliminate horse flies, stable flies or any other fly who dares intrude upon your property and hurt your horse,  it's important to implement a daily cleaning and maintenance routine around your barn to protect your horses.


Make sure your waste areas are sealed with tight lids and are lined with plastic bags. This will reduce odors and attract fewer flies waiting to lay eggs around. If it is possible, keep garbage areas as far away as you can from the barn itself.


The area where you feed your horses can also be a prime breeding ground. Make sure you sweep out the feed room each day to avoid having spilled feed laying out to rot.  All horse feed should be tightly sealed in containers when not being eaten by the horses.


While there is no fly control program which can completely eliminate flies from your barn permanently using the following steps and implementing a general fly control management program for your barn can help reduce the horse fly population. Not only will your horses be happier with less flies around resting on their bodies and feeding on them, they will be much healthier as well.


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