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What is in Horse Fly Spray
 By Winniefield Park   •   14th Aug 2017   •   833 views   •   0 comments


Sometimes I think you can mark time during summer by the type of insects that are driving you and your horse crazy. In late spring and early summer, depending on where you live youíll be attacked by black flies. These are tiny black bugs that bite so stealthily, you might not notice theyíve eaten part of you until you accidentally find the scabs where theyíve been feasting. On horses, they leave raised, rough bands on their chest. Usually, they only last a couple of weeks, although the further north you live, the longer they seem to last.

Then the mosquitoes come out. These disease carriers persist all summer, although there are different species that come out at certain times. For example, the species that carries West Nile Virus comes out in late summer/early fall. Barn flies appear as soon as the weather turns warm. Deer and horse flies show up midsummer and stick around until frost. Bot flies emerge from mid to late summer. Ticks are a problem from the time the snow melts until it falls again.

One of the first things horse owners turn to repel these bugs is repellent. This comes in a liquid that is wiped or sprayed on the horse, or as a stick or roll-on. The latter are great for applying the product around the face and ears, places that flies tend to target. I just bought a jug of the most expensive liquid and have to say Iím disappointed. Within seconds of applying the liquid, flies landed precisely where I put it. Over the years, Iíve only found one product that I thought was effective, but it bothered my sinuses and made me feel unwell if I managed to inhale any of it. Which makes me wonder, just whatís in that stuff? Hereís a look at some of the ingredients we spray on our horses when we use fly repellents.

If youíve got a fly spray that smells really nice, the ingredient responsible is probably citronella. Citronella is an extract of lemongrass. It is supposed to repel bugs naturally. It only works for a very short time on its own and itís often mixed with other ingredients.

Pyrethrin is an extract of a type of marigold. It is supposed to repel bugs but doesnít last long on a sunny day either, because the sunlight breaks it down. This isnít the same as Permethrin, which is a synthetic bug repellent. There are a few synthetic pyrethrin imitators. Permethrin is toxic to cats, so be careful when using it near other pets. Another synthetic form of a marigold extract is Resmethrin, which isnít as toxic as its cousin. Cypermethrin and Prallethrin are two more similar chemicals and are toxic to amphibians, so be careful not to use it near fish ponds.

There are several more plant based extracts used in bug repellant. One such ingredient is geraniol. This is an extract of geranium plants and it too has a perfumy smell. The plants pennyroyal, various types of mint, eucalyptus, and wormwood are sometimes found in fly repellents. Cedar or cypress oil is occasionally used. Pennyroyal repels bugs but is quite toxic and shouldnít be in anything thatís going to be applied to your horse, you or other pets. Cloves and rosemary are two spices that are sometimes found in horse sprays.

Unfortunately, the really effective repellents have long, unpronounceable names that make you not want to put them on your horse, or yourself. The most common of these is known as DEET. DEET was only approved for use on horses a few years ago in the U.S. Itís effectiveness depends on how much you apply. Too little and you may attract mosquitoes, and copious applications are not any more effective as the recommended amount, according to Popular Science. It isnít as deadly toxic as many of us believe, although you probably donít want to saturate your horseís skin with it frequently or inhale itsí fumes when you apply it.

Another chemical ingredient common in horse fly sprays is Di-n-propyl Isocinchomeronate. This chemical is good for repelling flying insects such as deer and face flies. Itís often combined with other repellents.

The other complicated sounding names on labels of fly spray are carriers and emulsifiers, to the ingredients donít settle or clump. Some are sunscreens, so the active ingredients last longer. Others are preservatives that help prevent the botanical extracts from spoiling.
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