Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Here a fly, there a fly...UGH!

We are having a serious fly problem this year. I mean, it's BAD. I've done a bit of research and it seems the combination of a really wet spring and a significant decrease in the local bat population may have something to do with the explosion of flies. I am very diligent about keeping all the animals' living quarters clean and the grass and weeds kept under control, but these flies are INSANE.

And I can't seem to find a fly spray that works for more than 20 minutes and with three horses, we go through a LOT of spray. We spray in the morning before the horses are turned out and they all get their fly masks. They get sprayed again when the come in at night and sprayed before we ride. Most of the time, the horses are stomping and swishing less than an hour after we spray them. Poor critters!

I've tried the homemade fly sprays in the past (the apple cider vinegar and the Skin So Soft version) and was even less impressed with them than the commercial versions. I've read some people put garlic in their horse's feed to help ward off the bugs and some even put vinegar in the feed or water to help make them taste "nasty" to the bugs. I know other's who use feed-through fly control and have success with it and the fly predators are touted to be quite efficient.

But I can't use the feed-through fly control or the fly predators because we have free-range chickens who like to make a tasty meal out of the horse manure and would snatch those fly predators right up and render them absolutely useless.

Does feeding the horses garlic actually work? Does anyone have a homemade fly spray they use that works for more than an hour and doesn't end up costing more than the commercial fly spray? I'm pretty open to all suggestions at this point!

My ponies are desperate for long-term relief from those horrible things. Especially poor Gabe, thin-skinned, sensitive Thoroughbred that he is. Poor guy really, really suffers when the spray is no longer effective.


  1. I've had absolutely no luck with any of the natural sprays - I try to use environmentally-friendly stuff whenever I can but the natural sprays and wipes just don't work for me. I use two really nasty sprays - Bronco fly spray and Mosquito Halt (really nasty stuff - if you buy large containers by mail you have to pay a hazardous materials surcharge!) for the mosquitos, which we have really badly this year. They don't work perfectly, and further on in the season they work even less well, but I haven't yet found anything else that works better.

  2. I've heard that feeding garlic isn't effective against insects, and that it isn't really good for horses to eat garlic anyway.

    I'm in a new area (europe) so today I was totally shocked to see the arrival of the evil horse-biting flies. My horse has little stripes of blood all over him, and I'd coated him this morning with Flysect Super 7. I'm gonna put another dose of Equispot on him even though it's only been a week.

    I miss a tick-free and biting-fly-free land!


  3. I made a fly spray once by boiling garlic was potant stuff..worked well but stunk the house out :S

  4. I second the Mosquito Halt. We have sand gnats here that leave our pony RAW, and my QH in hives. Add in the rain and the freaking HUGE skeeters lately, the Mosquito Halt has been a huge help to both horses. Even with our rains, it has lasted well- about 36 hours in rainy weather, up to almost 3 days in drier weather. (I order mine from

    Garlic- I've heard it can cause anemia, and that it is not overly effective for fly control...

    Good luck with finding a solution!!

  5. Yeah, and when you find the solution, please shout it from the rooftop, because I'm in the same fix you are. The flies bite right thru whatever repellent I use. I've even taken to spraying myself with Bronco, and the bugs are brutal.

  6. Have you tried ATLAST! Fly Spray? It is 100% organic and cedar oil based! safe AND effective
    go to for more information

  7. what we use that actually works (and none of them are real great).. are zonk and bronco

    happy trails

  8. Oh yeah, if you find something let us know. I actually like the Marigold spray quite a bit but it's way expensive.

    The vet had to come out today because of flies. Those nasty tiny black ones that bite the insides of their ears. He had huge weeping open sores on his stomach, down one leg,and all over his sheath area. For the next 2 weeks I get to pick off all the scabs daily and treat the wounds. This all happened over the weekend when I wasn't there, of course.

  9. I think that fly sprays, no matter what kind they are, will only be effective for a few hours. The trick is to apply them just before the peak time of day for the worst flies. I use a yellow salt block (sulpher) which aids in keeping the flies down.