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Natural, effective ways to protect your horse from insects

Some parts of your horse are particularly attractive to insects: head and nostrils for some, ears for others, neck, belly or buttocks for forest flies, or Hippobosca, the rest of the body for the bigger ones, and so on. In other words, your horse’s whole coat is a target for a multitude of different insect families. Bites can cause stinging, itching and stress. But, unfortunately, an insect repellent won’t get rid of these different types of pests. Because that’s precisely the problem – they’re all different – different sizes, different targets, different periods, different temperatures and different pheromones! The different families of insect don’t all react to product forms and smells in the same way.

1- Ward off mosquitoes, black biting flies, simuliums, forest flies, etc.

These flies target fairly defined areas: ears, belly, either side of the mane as a rule. In the first 2 areas (ears and belly), a fly spray is of no real use. Opt for a mechanical barrier, and use a protective balm that is worthy of its name! (breathable, long lasting, and why not hydrating while we’re at it!)

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2- Stop the others getting close or landing

How annoying is it to see your horse constantly swishing its tail as it’s attacked by insects – not to mention all the resulting health issues? Fly sprays can work, but, as we all know, only for a time Sweat, wind, rain and damp mean they don’t work for very long.  When you spray your horse with fly spray, almost 1/4 of the amount you spray is dispersed into the air rather than on the horse’s coat . What’s more, this kind of water-based product just lands on the coat in droplets and quickly evaporates in the surrounding heat.

Applying a mechanical fly repellent like Derfly™, combines all the factors that provide long-term protection:

  • Coats the hairs with dry microcrystalline wax which prevents insects from sticking to them (12–72hr)
  • Alters the natural smell of the horse (6–8hr) with a rare combination of specific essential oils, effectively sending insects a “scrambledsignal (pheromones) that warns them of “danger”
  • Resists hosing down and perspiration
  • Does not evaporate. Gradually removed by rubbing, brushing, the passing of time.
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We also advise:  

Keep manure away from where you keep your horse (it’s where insects hatch)

Clean living areas frequently, by removing any droppings (including in paddocks) and soiled bedding. Do not use deep litter – use fresh bedding or rubber mats.

As far as possible, cover any muddy areas or puddles. Move hay and paddock entrances around if you can, to prevent the ground from being trampled and reduce the amount of mud.

In other words, try and give your horse the healthiest possible living conditions. It will be much happier and less vulnerable to disease.

Lastly, remember that nature hates a vacuum – if we eradicate one species, another, more resistant, and often more dangerous, one will take its place. So opt for mechanical methods rather than insecticides (which are bad for the environment too of course). That way you can create a “safe zone” without eradicating them altogether, thus maintaining a natural balance. 

DID YOU KNOW?

What’s the point of mosquitoes ?

  • They are the primary source of food for birds: without mosquitoes, bird numbers would fall by over 50%, according to Bruce Harrisson, an entomologist at North Carolina’s Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources
  • Their larvae depollute aquatic ecosystems by filtering the water
  • They are pollinators (they need sugar to fly), going from flower to flower in search of sugar. Thus they pollinate plants. Mosquitoes pollinate plants just like other insects.

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The information provided does not in any circumstances replace the advice of your veterinarian. It is the fruit of over 12 years’ experience and analysis of equine skin problems.