If your horse is doing his own rendition of “Shoo, Fly! Don’t Bother Me!” and it’s not working, it’s time to break out some more serious any-test techniques. It is summertime, and warmer weather tends to awaken the insect world, bringing out those armies of flies who seemingly have one mission: find someone to annoy and pester all season-long. Those pesky winged insects are attracted to and feed on anything rotting, spoiled, or decaying. (They also think dung is a great meal/breeding ground.) For all of these reasons, flies are a particular nuisance to horses and are bound to be present in any barn or stable.
Midge flies, stable flies, houseflies, deerflies, and—yes—horseflies all have one thing in common: they really like horses. The good news is there are ways to help limit the number of fly incidents around your stable. Horse owners can apply several strategies and products to help protect their equine friends during the warmer months of the year.
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Get the Jump on Flies
In limiting the fly problem, a good first step is to arm yourself with some general knowledge about their biology. Flies can only ingest liquid food; so to consume solids, they squirt saliva on top of it and then suck that up via their proboscis, a body part that acts like a straw. They drink a great deal of water to keep salivating and will drink wherever they find it: in ponds, troughs, rain-filled containers, etc. (Some species can even breed in standing water.)
Flies reproduce at a fast and furious rate. Adult females lay 100-150 eggs on any decaying matter they come across, such as garbage and fecal waste. The eggs hatch in roughly 7½ hours when temperatures are high (99 degrees Fahrenheit) and a little longer when the weather is cooler. From the eggs emerge worm-like creatures called maggots, which feed wherever they reside and then change into larvae. The larvae eventually transform into pupa and re-emerge as adult flies. Adults mate within a day or two from exiting their pupa state and the process (which in total constitutes one to three weeks) begins anew.
Unfortunately, flies have a particular affinity for horse manure, presenting serious challenges for fly control in stables and barns. If the fly that lands on your horse has just come from a feast in a nearby garbage can or manure pile, whatever germs it acquired will be deposited at that spot. Flies also regurgitate and excrete wherever they come to rest. So those tiny specks that are actually their fecal matter.
A Fly’s Bite Is Really Bad
Flies irritate horses by biting around the ears and face and also the forelegs, stomach, neck, and mane. There, they can find more skin here and feed on the blood from bites. Bites can be especially painful, and they’ll continue to bite as long as they have the strength, and an infection with oozing, itchy areas on your horse. As you can imagine, this is a miserable, vexing problem for your four-legged friend.
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Attack Flies at the Source
Horse owners should devise a consistent plan to help keep flies from biting their horses.
A good fly elimination plan could have your horse singing a whole new tune this spring and summer. Put your best plan forward to insure your equine friends enjoy a reasonably fly-free season.
Related Article: Keep Flies Off Your Pets >>