As a horse and barn owner I’ve come up with a pretty good system of fly control by working with nature. There is no “one” thing, no magic bullet to controlling flies, but with time, patience and consistency you can reduce some of your fly populations up to 85% while protecting your horses 99%.
Here’s how I do it:
- Manure management
- Beneficial insects
- Essential oil based fly sprays & rub ons (NO Pyrethrum-NO Pyrethroid)
First you need to manage the manure! I remove manure from stalls 4 times a day which is every time I feed the horses and from the paddocks once a day. The manure you have removed needs to be composted (if allowed in your city/state). Composting has multiple benefits so I highly recommend it vs. complete removal. However, for some of the large and commercial barns removal is an absolute necessity, but I encourage composting of at least the residual (there is always residual); it will all make sense as you read on. You can learn how to compost your manure either through your local extension office, community college or research the web. Some local governments offer grants to build a Compost Shed so look into what may be available for your property. To compost at my barn it only takes tarps and a tractor that’s it!
Secondly I use beneficial insects to control the fly population. Fly Parasites also known as Fly Predators or Fly Wasps are a beneficial insect that I purchase every fly season from a local Beneficial Insect provider. I prefer to support my local businesses so I encourage you to seek out a local beneficial insect provider, you’d be surprised how many providers are in your community or state. It is important to read the instructions before tossing the Fly Predators around. You need to allow them to hatch first which can take up to a week sometimes, so be patient, don’t spread them too soon. I spread the Fly Predators at dusk around the perimeter of my compost piles (having compost piles helps the population of Fly Predators to grow), around the water troughs, along the fence lines and around fresh manure piles in the pasture. It’s is very important to cover the predators up with a little dirt or manure so they don’t get eaten by birds, carried off by ants, get blown away or die in the sun.
The first year you probably won’t notice a difference, but by the second year I noticed at least a 50% drop in my fly population and by the third year over 85% of the flies were gone! You need patience and consistency to be successful. Your local beneficial insect provider can help you determine how many units you need for your property size and number of horses. A really cool bi-product using the fly predators is they procreate and spread to your neighbors reducing flies all around your property. I have cows on one side of me and a large horse breeder on the other so they are getting the benefit too.
Lastly you can protect your horses directly and safer by using fly masks and essential oil based fly control sprays and rub-on products. With my degree in cosmetology I have created my own naturally effective recipes from sprays to rubs that you can find in my Fly Control eBook available on my website (www.MissyWryn.com). If you are shopping for fly control products at your feed & tack store check the labels closely to avoid DEET, Pyrethrum, Pyrethroid, Resmethrin, Picaridin or other neuro-toxic chemicals. Many products that say All Natural can be toxic! A pet peeve of mine is that manufacturers are allowed to get away with All Natural claims if the chemical was derived from a plant, such as Pyrethrum that is derived from Chrysanthemums. However, Pyrethrum is a neuro-toxic chemical with links to cancer and is known to interrupt the endocrine system of your horse; NOT GOOD. If you are unsure of an ingredient on a label email me Info@MissyWryn.com and I’ll help you unravel whether it is toxic or not.
There is no ONE thing to control flies, but working with nature gives you a “w”holistic approach that really works!
Oh and one more thing mow your pasture if you can as that reduces the living space for no-see-ums, ticks & other biters.