horses in pasture reduced

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“In our area, stable flies can be a problem almost year round. They are worst in spring and fall, but on a warm day in January you can still find a few stable flies; it never gets cold enough to kill them all. They continue to hatch through winter,” says Hinkle.

Stable flies can fly considerable distances but the ones around your horses are generally produced locally. You can reduce their numbers by reducing breeding sites. “The larvae develop in composting manure and wet hay. Most horse owners take their manure out to the back pasture and make a compost pile — producing hordes of stable flies.”

“Black flies, the little flies that get in the ears and make them itchy and bloody inside, are generally active spring through fall. We are fortunate, here in the south, that our black flies are just animal feeders. We don’t have the ones in northern regions that also bite people,” she says.

“We have 2 or 3 months in winter without horse flies. But they start showing up by late March or early April. We’ll actually see deer flies first. They are in the same family as horse flies (Tabanids). We have 50 or 60 species of Tabanids here in Georgia, so there’s not any time during spring, summer or fall that there aren’t some species active,” she says. The best defense is to provide horses with shelter so they can get indoors on a sunny day, since most tabanids don’t like to go into dark areas.

“It’s hard to control horse and deer flies because they are produced in standing water/mud and can fly long distances. The flies on your horses may come from 4 or 5 miles away. There are some flytraps that will catch them, and this may help cut down on the number that attack your horses,” she says.

“The biting midges, punkies, no-see-ums, etc. are universal, but there are different species in different places. In coastal marshes, huge numbers of these little flies and gnats attack in swarms,” she says.

“Some mosquitoes can fly long distances, or be blown hundreds of miles with a storm, so even if you control them locally this may not be effective in protecting your horses because they may fly in from somewhere else,” says Hinkle.

“For most flies and mosquitoes, the best protection for the horse is regular application of repellent/insecticide. If you use a product frequently it can give relief,” she says. Pastured horses that aren’t handled regularly suffer more insect bites.

There haven’t been any products developed for horses to give long-lasting protection. “Horses have very sensitive skin, so companies are reluctant to produce topical pesticides for horses because they frequently react to it,” she says. Many of the things you apply to a horse won’t stay on very long anyway; they are washed off by rain, dew or sweat. If the horse rolls or wallows in the dust or wades in deep water, the product wouldn’t stay on very long. Daily application of a good equine fly repellent is about the best protection.



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