Don’t let flies and other biting insects ruin your spring plans at the barn.

Arm yourself with these five methods for better fly control today!

By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg

At last, spring has sprung! April is here, which means the days are longer, the horses are shedding and the time is ripe for leisurely trail rides, long horse show weekends and enjoying all that the barn life has to offer. But the advent of good weather also means that every horse lover’s worst enemy is out in full force. That’s right. We’re talking about flies. From house flies, deer flies, horse flies and black flies to ticks, mosquitoes and gnats, it seems like every buzzing or biting pest out there has come alive with just one mission in life: to torture your horses. Fortunately, you can fight back.

Fly control is one of the most important aspects of barn management. In addition to making your horses miserable, flies and other biting insects can transmit diseases, cause fly-bite allergies and irritate skin conditions and open wounds. Some flies, such as horse flies, can also – surprise, surprise – bite you! Although there’s no way to eliminate your local fly and pest population completely, you can find ways to fight back and protect yourself and your horses from being bitten. Here are our five best tips for fighting flies this spring: 

Invest in waste management.

There’s a reason that flies congregate around trash cans, and that’s because they’re drawn to the sweet, tantalizing smell of garbage. Invest in a metal trash can with a tight-fitting lid and haul your barn trash away daily. In addition to controlling your garbage, manage your manure. If you aren’t composting your manure, start now, because a properly composting manure pile generates enough heat to discourage flies. Clean stalls at least once per day and pick up manure in nearby paddocks or round pens at least once a week.

Eliminate water collectors.

Old tires, unused buckets and other vessels laying around your property can collect water any time it rains, which will create a breeding ground for flies, mosquitoes and other flying insects. Dump and refill water tanks and water buckets regularly.

Protect your horses.

Use fly sheets and fly masks to help protect your horses when they’re outside. During hot weather, use fans to keep the air circulating in the barn and in your horses’ stalls so that flies have less of a chance to land and bite. Use your favorite fly repellent spray on a regular basis, and keep wounds covered and protected when possible. Consider hanging or installing fly traps around your horses’ stalls or run-in sheds to help trap adult flies; just make sure they’re out of reach of inquisitive horses and other animals. 

Buy the right products.

Did you know that Draw It Out has a brand-new fly control product? Citraquin Environmental Defense Spray is an equine citronella spray that safely and effectively protects your horse from the environment without pyrethrins, pyrethrums, pyrethroids or industrial pesticides! You can spray it on your horse, spritz it in the stall or even use it on fly sheets. It’s also safe around dogs and livestock. Made with essential oils, it’s pesticide-free and non-toxic, so you can also use it on open or pre-existing wounds without fear. Citraquin is effective against deer, house, stable, horse and black flies as well as ticks, mosquitoes and gnats. Plus, thanks to its proprietary blend of essential oils like cedarwood, citronella and wintergreen, it smells fantastic. 

Invest in natural fly predators.

It may seem counterintuitive to fight bugs at your barn by introducing more bugs, but fly predators are actually tiny insects that eat flies. Fly predators fight house flies, biting stable flies and horn flies by eating them when they’re in the pupa stage. Fly predators also can’t irritate your horses because they can’t bite or sting. If you decide to use fly predators, you’ll need to purchase enough fly predators to treat your entire farm, and then continue to maintain their population over time by adding supplemental generations of fly predators. Fly predators won’t get rid of all your flies, but they can help fight back. 

Do you have a favorite method for combating flies that we didn’t cover here? Spread the word and share your best tips with us on social media! And if you haven’t already put in your Draw It Out order for the month, consider this to be your friendly reminder. Citraquin is available for purchase online now, or you can find an authorized DiO dealer near you here. Happy trails!