Top 10 Insects That Will Bite Your Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   16th Jun 2014   •   3,697 views   •   0 comments
Top 10 Insects That Will Bite Your Horse

Something seems to be eating at our horses all summer long. Here’s what’s buzzing and biting your horse, making it miserable, and perhaps even sick.

Pesky mosquitos aren’t just a nuisance that cause itchy lumps, they’re also disease carriers. There are several horse diseases that are transferred by mosquitos, including West Nile Virus and Equine Encephalitis. There are several types of mosquitoes that show up at different times during the summer. Lucky us.

Blackflies arrive in swarms and can chew bleeding bands across your horse’s chest and make a mess of their ears. The good thing about blackflies is that their season is relatively short. The further south you live, the shorter their season. Avon Skin-So-Soft is a pretty effective short-term repellent for these tiny pests.

Stable Flies
There’s not a lot of difference between house and stable flies, except where they live. Stable flies nip, which causes your horse to stomp and peck at itself constantly. Stable flies don’t carry disease when they bite, but carry bacteria and viruses on their feet and bodies.

Horse Flies
There are a lot of flies called horse flies. Depending on where you live you may have to deal with one or more types. Most are about the same size a stable flies. Others are huge. All of them bite, and rely on blood meals. My grandfather, who farmed with horses, warned that if the large ones landed on your team, drop the reins and bale out. These large flies can throw horses into a panic. The large Tabanus Atrartus may also be known as the blue tail fly.

Bot Flies
Bot flies show up later in the summer. They look like bees as they dart at your horse to lay their little yellow oval eggs on an individual hair. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae can do major damage to your horse’s digestive system. The eggs are best scraped off. I use the blade of a pair of scissors held open. Some people use oils, but I’ve not seen that these are 100% effective. Once a hard frost in autumn hits, your horse should be dewormed with a medication that targets bots.

Warble Flies
Warble flies look like large furry bees. They lay eggs on the horse’s hairs, and once hatched, the larvae burrow into the horse’s skin. If the larvae burrow into the horse’s back, you can’t put a saddle over the area until the larvae leave, or you have a vet remove them and the area heals. The burrow may become infected, and a permanent scar can result.

Deer Flies
These may be called yellow flies or stouts in some areas. They are a little bigger than a house fly, but their bodies are thinly banded with black and yellow strips. Their wings are almost transparent, with black bands. If you ride in the forest, these pests ping off of your helmet and swarm your horse’s ears and the upper parts of its body. When they bite, they take a chunk out (at least it feels like it) and then feed on the blood that oozes out.

Unlike mosquitoes, they won’t bite through clothing, so long sleeves for you, and a mask and fly sheet will keep them off of your horse. They can get stuck in the vents of your helmet, which is really irritating, so you may want to stuff tissue to block them when these guys are out--usually during the day.

Ewww. Ewww. Ewww. Horses can pick up ticks as they walk through long grass. They’re most often found on the underside of your horse, although they could be hiding anywhere. They look like little brown, red or gray lumps, that get larger the longer they are on your horse. They’ll make your horse itchy and there’s a danger they will cause Lyme Disease. They need to be pulled off carefully and disposed of.

These tiny insects can cause sweet itch--an allergic reaction on your horse’s skin. They're also called no-see-ums.

Horn and Heel Flies
Both of these flies look like tiny house flies. Horn flies may pester your horse if it’s pastured with or near cattle. Heel flies bite at your horse’s heels, causing it to stomp and pace.

The solution: fly sheets, masks and bug sprays can help. Some people have favorite repellent recipes they find effective. What’s your best pest-control tip?
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