If you're a horse owner, you probably already know that flies can be a huge problem, especially during the warm summer months. Flies are not only annoying for your horse but can also transmit diseases and cause skin irritation.
In this article, we discuss the best ways to protect your equine from pesky flies. We begin with information on why horses need fly protection and then move on to the best fly sprays and repellents on the market. We also discuss some home remedies you can use to help keep your horse free of flies.
So, if you're looking for the best horse fly spray to keep your equine happy, read on!
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Why Do Horses Need Fly Spray?
There are a few reasons why horses often need fly spray or repellent. First, flies can be bothersome for horses. They may try to bite the horse or land near the animal's eyes, which can cause discomfort and agitate the animal, whether the horse is out in the field or being ridden.
In addition, flies carry diseases and can transmit them from one horse to another, so fly control is integral to maintaining good health.
Finally, some types of flies cause skin irritation in horses, especially in sensitive areas, which can lead to sores or even infection. For these reasons, it's essential to find a good horse fly spray that will keep your horse safe and comfortable.
As a bonus, many fly sprays and repellents deter insects other than flies, like mosquitos and ticks, keeping your horse healthier and happier overall.
How Does Fly Spray Work?
Fly spray works by using various ingredients to repel or kill flies. Some fly sprays contain chemicals that kill flies on contact. Others contain chemicals or natural ingredients that repel flies or confuse their senses so that they cannot hone in on their target.
Most fly sprays and repellents are applied directly to the horse's coat or sprayed on surfaces in the stable area, usually using a spray bottle. However, there are also some fly traps that you can place or hang in the stable to catch and kill flies.
Some horse owners may also add dietary supplements to their horse's feed designed to deter flies, such as pellets.
Types of Fly Sprays for Horses
There are a variety of different fly spray types on the market that stop pesky bugs in their tracks. Some fly deterrents feature ingredients that focus only on killing or repelling flies, while others offer additional benefits, like coat conditioners, sweat-resistant properties and sunscreens.
No matter which type of fly repellent you choose, follow the directions provided by the manufacturer carefully so that you don't harm your horse.
Fly Repellent vs. Fly Killers
There are two main types of fly sprays: repellents and killers.
Fly repellents work by creating a barrier that deters or confuses flies, preventing them from landing on the horse. This barrier can be made of chemicals or natural ingredients.
Fly killers contain chemicals that kill flies on contact.
Both types of sprays have their advantages and disadvantages. Some horse owners use both killing sprays and repellents for maximum effect.
Chemical Fly Control
Chemical sprays are usually very successful at repelling or destroying flies. They're generally effective and riders can count on them. However, they can be harmful to horses (and humans) if not used properly. In addition, some chemical solutions may only kill or repel certain types of flies.
If you're considering using a chemical repellent, read the label carefully and follow the directions exactly to achieve the desired result and avoid an adverse reaction.
Natural Fly Control
Natural fly control most often consists of repelling the flies. Repellents are typically made from ingredients that are safe for horses, pets and humans, though that's not always the case. They're usually less effective than chemical repellents, but they're a good choice if you're concerned about using chemical-based products.
The goal with repellents is to keep flies from bothering your horse in the first place, which is ideal for guarding your horse's skin from irritating bites.
If you want to prevent flies from ever landing on or biting a horse and prefer to avoid harmful chemicals, an all-natural fly repellent may be your best choice.
Chemical and natural repellents can both be used in conjunction with other fly control measures, such as fly traps and protective masks.
The Best Horse Fly Spray and Repellent
There are many different horse fly sprays on the market, and it can be hard to know which one to choose. We discuss a couple of our top picks for the best horse fly sprays below.
Troy Repel-X Fly Control
Troy Repel-X is made with ingredients that kill flies and repel them. As such, it's a great fly spray for horses that need superior protection from flies and other insects. This spray is also incredibly easy to use and relatively affordable for a 500 ml container.
Simply spray the fly deterrent lightly over the horse's coat in a sweeping motion from head to rear, being cautious to avoid the horse's eyes. You can apply the horse fly spray twice per day when flies are severe. You can also spray it on the inner walls and surfaces of the stable to deter flies from the entire area.
In addition to horses, this fly repellent and killer can be used on dogs, pigs and cows, so it's a great option for those who live on a farm and need a versatile spray.
It's Australian-made and designed to keep flies away for up to 12 hours. It works successfully to keep other biting insects at bay for a period of up to 4 hours.
This spray includes N-Diethyltoluamide (also known as DEET), Di-N-propyl isocinchomeronate, citronella, and pyrethrins, among other ingredients.
Another top-performing fly spray, Absorbine Ultra Shield is an excellent option for many horses. It controls a variety of fly types and other insects, including house flies, stable flies, sand flies, bot flies, midges and mosquitos. It has a water-based formula, which is less likely to attract dust or leave an oily residue than an oil-based spray. And it's ready to use upon purchase; no mixing or preparation is required.
Furthermore, if you want to add a sheen to your horse's beautiful coat, the coat conditioner added to this insect repellent is perfect. The formula includes aloe and lanolin, which help create a shiny coat. Aloe is also a good ingredient for horses with sensitive skin.
Another benefit is this fly deterrent's nice citronella scent, which produces a pleasant smell that makes the application more agreeable.
Lastly, this Absorbine product contains multiple sunscreens, offering your horse protection from the harsh summer sun. It's reasonably priced for the amount of use the product provides, and it can be used directly on the horse or in areas of the stable where you want to limit stable flies and other flying insects.
Other Fly Sprays for Horses
While the two fly treatments mentioned above work excellently for many horses, your equine companion may have different needs that make other sprays or repellents more appropriate.
If you have questions about whether or not a specific product is safe or suitable for your horse, we recommend discussing your concerns with a vet.
The Best Home Remedies to Repel Flies
Riders with sensitive horses that can't be exposed to harsh chemicals or who simply prefer to use a home remedy to stop flies may choose to use a homemade or chemical-free alternative to store bought fly spray.
We discuss a few commonly used homemade sprays and repellents below.
Tea Tree Oil Fly Spray
Tea tree oil is a natural fly repellent. It can make a good fly spray for horses when mixed with lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass, and even vinegar. The natural oils also smell delightful, so in addition to deterring flying insects, your horse gets a lovely perfume from the mixture.
Please keep in mind that we advise owners to be careful when using homemade sprays and repellents on horses. Tea tree oil is toxic when ingested, so it's critical that your horse doesn't lick itself or otherwise ingest any tea tree oil that you've sprayed in the stable area.
Listerine Fly Spray
A Listerine mixture can sometimes do the trick for riders who need a fast, inexpensive fly deterrent to treat their horses with. Listerine is available at almost any shop, so there's no need to wait for it to arrive through the mail or visit a tack shop.
Combine equal parts of Listerine with baby oil in a spray bottle, mix it well and apply it to the horse's coat. Again, it's vital to be careful with homemade remedies like this one. Listerine can irritate horses' skin, so be very cautious when using it as a horse spray.
Many homemade spray recipes call for the addition of vinegar. It's oftentimes combined with baby oil or essential oils for the best results. While vinegar mixtures are often used as a natural fly spray, it is crucial to remember that flies can also be attracted to apple cider vinegar, so be cautious about using it.
Vinegar is used just as frequently as a fly trap as a repellent. When placed in a bowl and mixed with dish soap and sometimes sugar, it can attract and trap flies.
Do Essential Oils Really Repel Flies?
Yes, essential oils have many benefits, both for horses and people, and can be used in some cases to repel bugs.
While essential oils generally require more frequent application than chemical sprays and aren't as quite as effective, they offer some equine enthusiasts a good alternative to manufactured sprays.
Choosing the Best Fly Spray For Horses
When seeking the best fly spray for your horse and situation, you should consider:
Your Horse's Health and Age
Every horse is unique and has its own needs, especially regarding its health. Take your horse's specific needs into account when choosing the best fly spray or repellents.
Some horses cannot or should not be exposed to chemicals, either because they have sensitive skin or because they're too young. A chemical-based horse spray, for example, may not be recommended for a foal or a lactating broodmare whose milk will be affected. A senior horse may also need a milder intervention.
The Severity of the Fly Infestation
If flies are minimal, a horse may need only mild or natural treatment, while a heavy infestation of flies in the stable or field may require a more intense or harsh treatment that includes several methods.
You usually don't have to spend a lot of money to get a good horse fly spray. Most insect repellents are accessible to a range of budgets. However, it's best to consider what you are getting for your money.
That said, check the spray bottle or container to see the amount you're receiving when assessing the price.
Again, owners should consider the ingredients in the spray and whether or not they are safe for the horse. If you are unsure about which horse fly spray to choose, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
The vet knows your horse's health situation and can best help you choose the best fly spray.
The Ratios of Ingredients
Some ingredients may not bother your horse in small quantities but could have an effect in greater doses. Consider the amount of each component before making your purchase.
The Environment and Insects
The insects that plague your horse are primarily dependent on your geographic area. In addition to flies, your horse may deal with gnats, mosquitos and other bugs. If that's the case, it can help to look for a fly spray for horses that also repels those other insects.
Similarly, some fly sprays can be used on more than one animal type. If you need to protect your dogs or cows as well as your horse, a fly spray that works for all of them may be most convenient.
Applying Horse Fly Sprays
You must apply horse fly spray properly to be effective. Make sure you follow the instructions on the label.
Some sprays need to be applied more often than others. You also need to apply the spray evenly over your horse's body. If you don't, flies will still be attracted to certain areas of your horse's body.
Most horse fly sprays can be applied with a brush, sponge or spray bottle. If you are using a brush, make sure it is a soft brush, so you don't irritate your horse's skin.
When applying horse fly spray, avoid getting it in your horse's eyes, nose or mouth. Also, make sure you don't inhale the spray or get it in your own eyes.
Concentrate Vs. Spray
While most fly treatments come in a spray bottle that's ready to use, some treatments are instead concentrated. That means they must be mixed with water before the application.
For the sake of convenience, most people prefer ready-to-use sprays.
How Often Should Horse Owners Apply Fly Spray?
Many fly sprays are applied one to two times per day, but you should check the application instructions provided by the manufacturer and follow them strictly. The length of time a spray works depends on the product.
Natural products typically need to be applied more frequently than chemical sprays, but it's not a given.
Is Fly Spray Safe to Use Around Pets and Children?
Whether or not a fly spray for horses is safe to use around pets and children hinges entirely on the spray and its ingredients. Read the label and any included instructions to ascertain whether or not you can use it on or around your other pets, like dogs or cats, or in the vicinity of children.
Are Fly Sprays for Horses Effective?
If you use only fly spray in your fly reduction strategy, you likely won't enjoy the same level of effectiveness as those who use multiple methods to get rid of flies.
Fly sprays are most effective when combined with other fly control measures. For example, if you're using a chemical or natural fly product on your horse, it's helpful to also use products like fly traps to catch and kill flies and masks to block them.
Fly traps are usually placed near horse stalls or in areas where horses spend a lot of time.
Traps can effectively reduce the number of flies in an area, but they won't completely eliminate the problem.
Fly control products, like fly masks and nose meshes, are a great way to protect horses from insects and can be used alone or in conjunction with other fly treatments.
Fly masks cover the horse's face, so flies can't reach the horse's eyes, which are often a congregating point for insects. Some fly masks also cover the horse's ears and/or nose area, giving even more protection.
Other Fly Repellent Strategies
In addition to using fly masks, you can do a few other things around your pasture or stables to keep flies at bay.
Firstly, it's critical to clean up areas where flies are likely to breed, such as manure piles. It also helps to make sure there is no standing water on your property, as flies will lay their eggs in stagnant water.
Another great way to keep flies to a minimum is to ensure all garbage cans are tightly sealed. Also, clean up any spills immediately, keep pet and horse feed covered and use fans in horse stalls or areas where horses spend a lot of time. Fans help keep flies away from horses and keep horses cooler in hot weather.
Most riders can significantly reduce the number of flies around their property by taking these steps.
The Fly-Free Horse
In the end, the type of horse spray you ultimately buy can change your horse's day-to-day life, providing great relief.
When you find the best horse fly spray for your animal and create a fly-free stable, your equine companion can enjoy a happier, healthier and more relaxed existence, making the search well worth it.