Fly Season is Upon Us

Spring is coming and with it comes warmer weather, sunshine and….flies! Most of us are pretty experienced when it comes to fighting these winged pests. Changing your fly control strategies every year is a good idea. Here’s a brief overview of the species that might appear and what you can do to protect your horses from them.

Stable Flies look like house flies but they inflict painful bites, most often on a horses legs, but also on the belly, face and neck. They can be found around livestock practically anywhere in the country, but they will reach their peak in warmer climates, especially in hotter, wetter weather. Stable flies prefer bright sunny areas and tend not to enter dark enclosures.

Horseflies and Deerflies inflict painful bites that bleed. Deerflies tend to attack the head and neck, smaller horseflies bite on legs, and the larger ones feed on the horse’s back. These types of flies lay their eggs in moist soil or vegetation near ponds, marshes and other bodies of water. Some may travel as far as 30 miles in search of blood meals. Horsefly and deerfly species prefer bright sunlight on hot, still days.

Horn flies tend to congregate on the horse’s belly, where a single fly may bite multiple times before flying off.  On cooler days, they may also feed on the neck, shoulders and back. Horn flies are normally found near cattle, and they lay their eggs in fresh cow manure, but they will affect horses in shared or adjoining pastures.

Blackflies inflict painful bites, usually on sparsely haired areas, such as the ears and genitals. Although they can be found as far south as Florida, blackflies are notorious pests up north. They are most abundant in forested areas and slow moving waterways, such as streams, lakes or canals, in which they lay their eggs. They feed primarily on bright, sunny days and prefer not to fly into dark enclosures.

Face flies do not bite, but they congregate on the face to feed on saliva, tears and mucus. Face flies prefer cattle, and breed only in cow manure, but they will also land on horses pastured within a quarter mile. They are most active in the spring and summer but not in hot, dry weather.

Culicoides (biting midges, biting gnats, no-see-ums) attack different parts of the horse, depending on the species, but the more common ones tend to bite at the tail head, ears, mane, withers and rump; others go for the belly. Although the individual flies are tiny, they form dense swarms that inflict many bites at once. These flies breed in wet places such as slow, still streams, marshes and rotting vegetation, and are most active just after sunset.

Burns Feed Store has you covered, or your horse covered as far as fly control goes. We stock the following options:

  • Insecticidal/repellent sprays ● repellent lotions/roll-ons ● spot-applied permethrin products ● fly sheets ● fly masks ● feed-through fly control ● dusts ● fly traps ● feed-through blocks


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