Horses can be pestered and bitted by a variety of flies and airborne insects. These creatures make life extremely unpleasant for horses and their bites can lead to a number of health issues. It is crucial that horse owners are aware of the potential problems and that they do what they can to protect their horses from being bitten.
Horse flies and deer flies can bite both horses and riders. Those bites can be really nasty. This is because the flies are from the Tabanidae family of insects. They have every long mandibles which rip open rather than bite the flesh. Horses can also suffer from bites by gnats, black flies and bot flies.
Bites and Sweet Itch
Bites from flies can lead to equine infectious anaemia, encephalomyelitis, worm infestation, sores, scabs, respiratory depression and conjunctivitis. Horses can also suffer from an acute allergic reaction to insect saliva and this condition is called sweet itch. There is no cure for sweet itch and so prevention must be a priority.
It is possible to address the problem of flies in several ways. Horse owners should muck out regularly as waste will always attracts flies. Waste removed from stables should then be stored as far from the horses as possible. It is best to avoid turning out horses into areas featuring standing water as this always attracts flies. Horses’ wardrobes should feature fly sheets and fly veils for when flies are present.
It is also useful to apply fly sprays and repellents to horses. We have an impressive range of fly protection for horses which includes both chemically based products and natural formulas. We have chosen our fly sprays from the excellent Natural Animal Feeds (NAF), Carr, Day & Martin, Gold Label, global Herbs and Fly Away collections. Chemically based fly sprays feature DEET which is a powerful insect repellent but can be an irritant for the skin. Natural sprays include a range of herbal ingredients and essential oils including Citronella. These can also prove efficient in warding off flies.
Citronella is an essential oil which is extracted from lemon grass. It is an effective fly repellent but is also anti-fungal and has a calming effect on some animals.
Through good husbandry, the provision of fly sheets and by using insect repellents, it is possible to protect horses from nasty bites. Horse flies will never go away completely but you can keep them to a minimum and shield horses from being bitten.