Poll Recap: Fly Control Methods

Poll Recap: Fly Control Methods

Of the 487 respondents, 150 (31%) said fly sprays designed for use on horses are their favorite fly control method.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Last week we asked our readers which fly control method was their favorite to use around the barn. More than 450 people responded to our online poll, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 487 respondents, 150 (31%) indicated that fly sprays designed for use on horses are their favorite fly control method, while 101 (21%) said they prefer to use manure removal and composting. Another 85 individuals (17%) chose fly parasite wasps as their favorite fly control method, while 71 (15%) said they prefer to use fly masks and sheets. Twenty-one people (4%) said they used birds and bats for fly control purposes, and 14 individuals (3%) indicated they use premises sprays. The remaining 45 respondents (9%) said they use other forms of fly control. 

Additionally, 100 readers commented on their favorite fly control methods.

Many people said they use multiple fly control methods for their horses and property:

Poll Results

  • “A mix of the above.”
  • “I use more than one treatment.”
  • “Fly parasites, birds and bats, and manure management.”
  • “We use all these methods except parasite wasps.”
  • “A combined assault of wasps, traps, and composting really cuts down the need for masks and spray.”
  • “We rely on all forms of natural fly controls and compost too. We love the birds and bats!”
  • “Combination of all is best, I believe.”
  • “I use fly parasite wasps, birds, and fly sprays, plus masks if necessary. It keeps the place neat.”
  • “Sprays, masks, and manure removal, done equally.”
  • “Feed-through fly-growth inhibitors and Quick Bayt scattered in the barn, in addition to a fly sheet.”
  • “Fly spray, fly parasites, composting manure, and a fly mask on my more sensitive horse if he needs it.”
  • “We use a variety: parasite wasps, fly traps, manure removal/composting, birds/bats, and topical items”
  • “Fly spray, sheet, and leg wraps. They help a lot to prevent stamping causing chipped hooves and lameness.”
  • “A combination of topical sprays, premises sprays, and fly sheets.”
  • “Fly masks during the day, fly misters in opening of barn, and fans are excellent help.”
  • “We use a combination of horse sprays, wasps, birds and bats, and frequent manure removal.”
  • “Natural fly repellents, fly masks, birds/bats, manure composting, and Sweet PDZ.”
  • “Manure pickup, fly predators, and a good fly spray.”
  • “I use fly masks and spray, and have barn swallows.”
  • “Fly spray, mask, and sheet for my horse.”
  • “Fly sprayers in the barn and fly parasites in the manure pile and pasture.”
  • “Fly parasites, manure management, and other natural methods.”
  • “Can I say all of the above? Here in Arizona we have a fly problem year-round. The battle never ends!”
  • “All of the above, but I try to not use premise sprays because of the critters who eat the bugs.”
  • “I save a lot of money by only applying fly spray to my horse's legs when he wears his fly gear."

Some people mentioned alternative fly control methods:

  • “I use (feed-through) Bug Off garlic.”
  • “Dung beetles are your friends. Protect them wherever you can.”
  • “I feed Buggzo.”
  • “Management techniques—my horses are in during the day.”
  • “Spot-on fly repellants are used along with your above choices, and a toad pond!”
  • “I feed garlic.”
  • “I put vinegar in the water tank and use fly traps in their stalls.”
  • “Sticky traps and a microbial spray to neutralize ammonia on pee spots.”
  • “We feed garlic to the horses starting in February and ending in late September.”
  • “We use the feed-through fly control mineral blocks. They work great.”
  • “Fly trap bags. Each dead fly is a hundred not hatched.”
  • “Vaseline spread.”

A few people mentioned fly predators as part of their fly control method:

  • “I love fly predators, but we can't use them effectively anymore with cows next door.”
  • “I use fly predators.”
  • “In combination with the other options, fly predators work wonders.”
  • “I have used fly parasite wasps for 30 years. I also use cleaning, birds, bats, and more gentle sprays.”
  • “Fly predators and fly spray when out.”

Some commented on using chickens for fly control:

  • “My chickens have kept my barn 99% fly free for over a year now.”
  • “I let the chickens free range last year - not one bot fly egg!”
  • “Chickens also help keep the area clean of bugs.”
  • “Chickens, fly spray, and fly masks.”
  • “Our chickens free range around the barn and manure piles eating flies and larvae!”

Readers also commented on the use of equine fly or premises sprays:

  • “I have an automated system in the barn, body sprays on the horses, and metered boxes in outbuildings.”
  • “I add pyrethrins and Avon Skin So Soft to a base of horse fly spray. No mosquitoes!”
  • “I use fly spray and drops, but have seen insect eating birds die as a consequence.”

And a couple readers commented on manure removal for fly control:

  • “Remove manure and all wet bedding and disinfect stable every day. Muck pile taken away off site.”
  • “I have all manure totally removed from the property once a week.”

Find out more about safely applying insect repellents, what summer insects could “bug” your horse and how you can combat them, and other insect control resources on TheHorse.com

This week, we want to know: How do you get your horse’s winter blankets clean once spring arrives? Vote now and share your comments on TheHorse.com!

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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