Addressing the Various Forms of Stable Fly and Pest Control

A mosquito bite is certainly annoying to human beings, but imagine how your horse feels about them. Biting flies, nuisance flies, lice, bots, and other pests can cause harmful damage as well as irritation to horses. Horses confined in stables and barns are plagued by house and stable flies, while out in the pasture they must endure deer flies, face flies, and horn flies.

Flies can harm horses and other barnyard animals in many ways, including:

  • Sponging up liquid on the body of face, particularly near the eyes and ears
  • Piercing the skin to feed on blood; painful as well as annoying
  • Laying eggs in the throat, legs or nose; very harmful once they hatch and become larvae
  • Fortunately, there are many management systems that can help you cope with flies and other horse pests. Control of stable flies in barnyards, stables, or corral areas takes a combined effort of several methods.

  • Sanitation - While not very glamorous, manure management is the key to any successful fly control program. Removing manure will drastically help reduce or eliminate potential sites where fly larvae can develop. Barns, pastures, stables, and corrals should be cleaned at least once a week, if not more often, to break up the life cycles of the offending flies. Good drainage is also very important to the elimination of wet manure, spilled feed, and hay or straw, all of which flies love. Check for and correct any wet, damp, and moist areas, such as around animal waterers. (Using feed-through fly control supplements in your horse’s diet will also go a long way toward preventing the development of flies in manure.)

  • Fly Repellents - Insecticides can play an important role in pest control programs, using chemicals to greatly decrease the population of flies and larvae. Some options that implement insecticides include space sprays, baits, larvicides, residual premise sprays, and whole animal sprays. Fly baits can also be very useful for managing low to moderate fly populations.

  • Fly Traps - Fly traps also use insecticides that attract flies, and can be effective when placed in the correct location. Farms with small to moderate fly problems should set their traps a good distance away from their home or stable; you do not want to attract flies from all over the area and make the problem worse. Instead, set the traps close to pest breeding sites, and lure bugs away from the areas you want to keep fly-free.

  • Fly Masks - Some horse owners prefer using a fabric solution rather than chemicals. Many fly masks provide more far-reaching coverage on the horse’s face, protecting the eyes, nose and thinner skin membranes behind the ears - all sensitive areas you wouldn’t want to apply a chemical repellent. Fly sheets not only repel pests, but can also provide valuable protection against damaging UV rays. Fly boots are available in many sizes to cover the hooves and legs.

By implementing these methods, your stable will be a lot cleaner and better managed, and your horse’s well-being will be better off for it. After all, adopting a pest control management system is preferable than dealing with bites, infections, and other symptoms associated with pests.

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  • Published:
  • Updated: 10/27/2017: 4:37:01 PM ET