Summer Pains in the Biting Flies

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There are seven types of common biting flies that affect horses and a few flies are little more than nuisances. Keep an eye out for these flies this summer:

Tabanids.  Giant flies commonly known as horse or deer flies, these guys measure between 1/2 and 1 1/2 inches long.  If you can keep your horse away from wooded areas through the summer and early fall, you’ll be able to avoid most problems with this pest.

Biting Midges.  These tiny flies, measuring no more than 1/8 inch long, can be a serious problem for horses due to their small size.  Bites from midges may result in skin hypersensitivities, itching and irritation that is difficult to control.  Stabling horses on calm nights and providing fans to prevent these weak-fliers from landing can be helpful.

Stable Flies.  Looking an awful lot like a housefly, the stable fly is one of those unpleasant residents of the barn.  They like to breed in areas where hay, feed and manure has managed to mix — it doesn’t take a ton of spilled feed for a huge family of stable flies to take up residence.  Cleanliness is the best cure for stable flies, but you’ll have to make sure you’re getting into the cracks and crevasses, too.

Mosquitoes.  There are a number of reasons to be extremely concerned about mosquito populations around your horse besides the obvious.  Mosquitoes transmit diseases like West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Western Equine Encephalitis.  They can be hard to control, but if you focus your efforts on eliminating breeding habitat, you’ll eliminate all the mosquitoes in your area at once.  Look for standing water of any size, from stagnant ponds to leftover party cups and eliminate those that you can.  Still bodies of water should be treated with mosquito dunks or stocked with voracious fish like koi or minnows.

House Flies.  House flies, unlike other types of pest flies, don’t feed directly on horse blood, instead flocking to the secretions coming for your horse’s eyes.  Like stable flies, house flies mature in manure and debris, but house flies are much easier to manage than their cousins.  Sanitation is vital, but you can also catch house flies with fly tape, baits and sticky traps and fit your horse with a fly mask to keep house flies off his face.

Bot Flies.  Bot flies may one of the worst types of flies to find bothering your horse.  These 1/2 long flies attach their eggs to your horse’s hair — but it’s these larvae that are so dangerous to your horse.  When they hatch, they seek out your horse’s lips and tongue where they burrow and feed.  Eventually, the larvae migrate to your horse’s stomach, travel through the gut and are excreted, ready to pupate.  Wormers containing avermectin can kill bot fly larvae if used regularly.

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