Tag Archives: Equine Resources

Got flies? Get some non-toxic weapons

Most barns have an arsenal of weapons to try to beat back the fly population including fly strips, sprays and traps. A lot of these tools work but they don’t last and they add to an already heavy workload.

Strips are more expensive than sprays and have to be replaced all season long. There is nothing uglier than a fly-encrusted pest strip but somebody has to take the old one down and put the new one up. And there are usually three or four strips in every barn. Changing out the strips is a dirty task and it takes time.

Every horse has to be sprayed before going out in the field, when they come in and before each ride, every time. Spraying one horse may only take 3 minutes a day but if you have 10 or 15 horses in the barn, that’s 30 minutes a day and more than three hours a week spent spraying horses to control flies.

Fly traps can work but before you spend a dime on them, make sure you are getting the right trap for the fly you are trying to catch. You might catch house flies with one but not catch the object of your attention — biting stable flies. Stable flies are attracted to light and fly low so traps have to be in the right place to catch them. Odor traps work on flies too but flies will travel up to a quarter of a mile to get to them. Put odor traps inside your barn and all you are doing is attracting flies from the whole neighborhood.

Workload isn’t the only thing affected by fly control.  If you live in the country, you probably have well water and so do your neighbors. Logically, every chemical that you use goes downstream and ends up in your neighbor’s water.  Your neighbor may be doing the same thing to your water supply.

What if you could find natural solutions that last longer and are not chemically based?

Horse Fly Nets
Horse fly nets get hung up once and last for ten years. Hung over entryways and windows in barns and run in sheds, Horse Fly Nets are made of the same material that tennis court nets are made of – polyester with a fine coating of vinyl. Resistant to rain, rot and ultra violet (UV) rays, they are environmentally safe, durable and made to order.

How do they work? Owner and inventor Karleen Hubley says it’s all in the angle of the sun. “The horse fly net creates shade at an angle based on where the sun strikes.” Behind the net, Hubley says, there is a, “…cool, dark space that the horses like but the flies don’t.”

The nets don’t touch the ground so a few flies may fly under the net but that means that hundreds of flies are on one side of the net and the horses are on the other. Keeping the net off the ground has the added benefit of keeping it from being trampled or pulled down and keeps it from getting muddy.

Standard sizes are available but Horse Fly Nets also sells custom nets. Both are reasonably priced and can be ordered on the Internet, paid for with credit card or check and delivered in less than 10 days.
For more information, visit  Hubley’s website or email her at info@horseflynet.com

Fly Predators
Most people rely on sprays and strips but rising slowly through the ranks of fly control is a slightly different product — beneficial insects. Organic gardeners have been using beneficial for years to control predatory bugs. Now these warriors are being put to use in barns across the country to help control flies.

Fly predators are not new. Tom Spalding’s family has been making and selling Fly Predators™ for more than 30 years.  “This is a different approach — biological control. You put out the bugs before you have flies and you won’t have flies all summer,” says Spalding, who is President of Spalding Labs.

Created at Spalding Labs early in the 1970’s, Fly Predators™ uses beneficials to kill the larvae. Fly predators keep flies from hatching rather than trying to kill them so you may still have to use fly strips and sprays while you get control over your fly population.

Some of the biggest names in the equine industry use Spalding’s product. Darren Chiacchia, Olympic Medalist, Tyler Magnus, nine-time NFR competitor, and Julie Goodnight, host of Horse Master on RFD-TV are just a few of Spalding Labs’ customers.

If you want to learn more about flies and fly control, visit Spalding Labs.   Spalding gives away a fly control guide that shares three decades of knowledge on how to use or buy the least amount of our product and spend the least amount of money to have the best control.

Zip-Loc Bags
If you are up for an experiment in fly control, another unproven but non toxic approach involves Zip-Loc bags and water!

First mentioned in 2003 by San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Richard Fagerlund, the method is simple. Fill a sandwich-size Ziploc bag about half full of water. Tape the top of the bag to the outside of the barn entrances. Add more water as needed. There is no scientific proof that this works but Fagerlund claimed that mail from his readers ran 9 to 1 that it did.

Why would flies avoid bags filled with water? Another mystery but the possible answer is they scare flies. So if you feel like experimenting and don’t feel like spraying yet another chemical, give them a try. You might get some relief from flies this summer and, at the very least, you’ll might a laugh or two from friends or boarders.


Filed under Equestrian Articles, Mid-Atlantic Horse Stories