Fly Control for Horse Health

What you need to know to keep flies away from your horse.

Compiled by Hailey Harroun

Make sure your horses are protected from pesky flies by taking these precautions. Journal photo.

House flies and stable flies have three prerequisites for successful completion of their life cycles: appropriate breeding materials, moisture and warmth, according to the Horse Industry Handbook.

Eliminating any of these factors will minimize fly breeding.

Cuts and wounds are inevitably going to happen to your horse. Are you prepared? Download AQHA's FREE Horse Wound Care e-book so you will be able to properly treat your horse in the event of an injury.

Follow these simple tips:

  • Practice good sanitation. Sanitation is the foundation of any successful fly control program. Corrals, run-in sheds and barns should be designed for the rapid and efficient removal of manure. Choose feeders that minimize waste and prevent manure from accumulating beneath them.
  • Minimize breeding grounds. Manure and other fly breeding materials are most easily disposed of by spreading them thinly on pasture or cropland. Or stockpile and compost manure in one place. To prevent flies from developing in the outer layers, cover the waste with plastic. Corral areas should have good drainage. Eliminate wet spots where fly breeding is most likely to occur.
  • Install screens and fans. Screening is an excellent way to keep flies out of areas such as feed rooms, tack rooms and box stalls. Fans directing a blast downward and outward above doors will help prevent flies from entering barns. If only a few flies are present, sticky fly tapes can be used as a remedial measure.
  • Arm your horse. Spray-on or wipe-on insecticides applied to horses' heads and bodies daily helps control flies. Horse-friendly insecticides should be an integral part of a horse owner's daily grooming and horse-care activities.

Educate yourself on when it is imperative that you contact the vet and when you can take care of the injury at home with AQHA’s Horse Wound Care Tips e-book.

Life of a Fly

It takes 10 days for a fly to develop into an adult, and it can live for 30 days to harass you and your horses. To better control the fly population in your barn, it's a good idea to understand their life cycle.

Eggs: The first stage of life. A female fly can lay up to 900 eggs.

Larvae (maggots): Larvae thrive on moist, organic matter (manure or anything dead around the barn).

Pupae: After the larvae has fed on manure and dead stuff, it develops into pupae and finds a home in a drier environment while it grows to adulthood.

Adult fly: The adult fly hatches and has about a month to bite and buzz.