Daylight saving time and warm weather mean more time for riding. But they also mean the return of mosquitoes, ticks, flies, gnats and other biting nuisances that can make horses miserable.
In fact, flies alone drink four cups of horse blood every 10 days.1
Not only do these pests annoy our equine partners, but they also carry harmful diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV), Eastern Equine encephalitis (EEE) and Western Equine encephalitis. In 2019, 90 cases of WNV were reported in horses in 25 different states.1 EEE cases in horses totaled 184 in 24 states.2
The best defense against diseases transmitted by common pests is to consult with a veterinarian for a geographically appropriate vaccination program. But, measures can also be taken to help reduce the threat by reducing the number of pests in and around the barn.
Brad Barkemeyer, Barkemeyer Performance Horses, Scottsdale, AZ, says horses perform better and are happier when they aren’t distracted and irritated by biting flies and other insects. His at-home remedies for the situation include the following:
- To help protect the entire property, use a permethrin-based premise spray. When using a hand-held sprayer to treat areas outside the barn, be sure to avoid bee and aquatic habitats.
- Spray the stall walls and around feeders to discourage flies from gathering. Be sure to sweep up any spilled grain, supplements or treats.
- Apply a light spray to brushes prior to grooming. This will result in consistent, full coverage. An added bonus is a polished, clean hair coat.
- Consider providing additional protection with fly masks and fly sheets.
Barkemeyer also suggests choosing fly spray carefully. “Not all fly sprays have the same ingredients and some are more appropriate for specific situations. I like using UltraShield EX® from Absorbine® for effective protection from flies and other insects whether at home, on the road or at competitions.”
For more information and savings on all varieties of UltraShield, visit UltraShieldEX.com.
1Townsend L. Horse flies and deer flies. University of Kentucky ENTFACT-511.
2USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 2019 Equine Case Reports of West Nile Virus.
3USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 2019 Equine Case Reports of Eastern Equine Encephalitis.