|What I like least about summertime are flies. Sometimes there's just no escaping the
nasty little creatures, but with a little effort you can reduce their numbers.
start by making your barn area as uninviting to flies as possible. Keep horse areas
well-cleaned, especially of manure piles and moist areas. Many flies like moist areas for
laying eggs. Also check for sticky grain stuck in the corners of feeders.
More tips include creating a well-ventilated stable. Fresh air carries away moisture
and odors that attract flies. Compost your horse's manure. Built properly, a compost pile
will heat up enough to cook fly larvae.
Good sanitation will do a lot to reduce the fly population, especially if you start
early and keep at it throughout the fly season. If you get a late start you may have to
take more aggressive measures.
Some of the more ecologically friendly ideas include fly masks and sheets and sticky
fly tapes. Fly masks are made from lightweight mesh with Velcro closures for safety. Many
non-horsey visitors have asked us why we blindfold our horses, but a quick demonstration
of the masks clears up any confusion. Fly sheets can help protect larger areas of the
horse's body. Both of these type products keep flies from landing on your horse's body (or
at least parts of it).
Sticky fly tapes have been available for many years. Unfortunately they can be a little
messy and they can trap beneficial bugs, not just those pesky flies. They also need to be
replaced when they become dusty or fly covered.
Other ideas include electric zappers and biological control. Zappers seem to have
fallen out of favor in recent years, but they can be very effective. Unfortunately they
also kill beneficial bugs and some horses might get spooked by the noise. Biological
control uses commercially-raised predators (tiny wasps) to reduce fly populations. These
wasps don't sting people and they stay very close to the manure pile their whole lives.
They kill flies by laying their eggs on fly pupae, and the baby wasps then feed on the
pupae. You will probably have to buy wasps several times during the fly season to keep
their numbers up, so this can become expensive.
There are also various types of fly traps. Some use smelly ingredients to attract
"filth" flies. These flies like things such as manure piles and rotting meat.
Other traps are designed to attract biting flies through sight. Some are designed to look
like the size or shape of an animal; others use various colors. One design that looks
promising is called a Nzi trap and was developed to attract tsetse flies in Africa. You
can find instructions for building one of these traps on the Internet.
Finally, you can use insecticides. Some products are made to apply to your horse as a
repellent. These must usually be reapplied at least daily and after exercising. Other
products are used on the manure piles or in buildings. Unfortunately flies can become
resistant to these chemicals. Most kill beneficial bugs as well, and some are hazardous to
the environment so choose carefully.