Horseflies are nasty annoyances whose bites are painful and itchy. They feed on blood, attacking humans and livestock as well, and can be pretty aggressive.
Repelling these insects is a challenging task. If you want to protect yourself or your livestock from them successfully, you should check out some advice to show you how to get rid of horseflies.
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Over 160 horseflies species live all over the US, but most people still mistake them for large houseflies, although they are nothing alike. Horseflies are bigger and can even grow 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length. However, the most significant difference is in their behavior.
Horseflies look particularly for warm-blood mammals, bite them, and suck their blood. On the other hand, houseflies rarely bite humans.
Keep in mind that the female horseflies suck blood for reproduction purposes, while males eat nectar and significantly help pollinate numerous plant species.
You will rarely spot horseflies inside the house since they prefer outside areas, particularly those near water. They choose moist soil close to lakes and rivers for reproducing.
Get Rid of Horseflies
If you happen to live near water or hold livestock in your household, then you know trying to get rid of horseflies is a never-ending battle. Even though you chase and kill them away, the new ones always return.
The most efficient solution for most pests is to destroy their breeding places, hives, and nests. The problem with horseflies is that their breeding places are commonly far away from your household. Plus, they frequently reproduce in protected areas, where any attempt of extermination is forbidden.
The only thing you can do is to get rid of these aggressive insects as soon as you find them on your land. There is no need to worry about the accompanying effect on the environment since there are more than enough horseflies out there. Let’s take a look.
Commercial Mechanical Traps
There are various devices for bugs that work excellently for horseflies. Keep in mind that they are bigger than houseflies or fruit flies, so you will need to place traps appropriate for their size.
Lamps that attract and electrocute horseflies are an efficient way to eliminate them since insects always follow the light. Once they get into the lamp’s construction, there is no way out.
2. Disposable fly traps
The efficient method is to use disposable fly tapes or fly papers that contain an attractant. The best options are to hang them off the ceiling or place them on surfaces around your household or near a light source.
That way, you will allow sunlight and water to activate the chemical that lures horseflies to enter your trap. Once the flies step on the paper, they will be stuck in glue and can’t fly off. Believe it or not, each trap can catch approximately 20,000 flies during a few weeks.
3. Bug zappers
These traps attract horseflies to ultraviolet light and kill them with electrical metal grids.
This trap contains a plastic bag filled with bait. As soon as horseflies enter through, they will stay trapped until they die.
5. Horse Pal
This commercial trap will attract horseflies, and they will get stuck in a metal container.
Homemade Mechanical Traps
6. Homemade fly trap
You can make such a trap on your own and save some money. Necessary material includes:
- Medium-sized, dark-colored ball
- Tough string
Tie a string to the stool bottom and attach the dark-colored ball to the other end. Wrap the flypaper over the stool legs and hang the construction in the area with horsefly infestation. Push the ball from time to time to attract insects and let them get stuck on the flypaper.
7. Sticky fly paper trap
Another option is to make sticky fly traps soaked in an attractant, like:
- Cow urine
- Nail polish or acetone
- Carbon dioxide
8. Umbrella horsefly trap
It is not too complicated to make an umbrella trap, but it is highly effective against horseflies. You will need:
- Four plastic sheeting of 5 by 4 feet (1.5 x 1.2 m)
- 5 to 6 feet (1.5 – 1.8 m) long pole
- Four supporting sticks
- Four rings
- Rubber ball, 16 to 20 inches (40.5 – 51 cm) in diameter
- 5 feet (1.5 m) long string
- Small plastic cone
- Plastic jar
Join all four plastic sheeting pieces to form an umbrella. Attach four rings on the bottom corners and tie them with strips to supporting sticks. Pull the pole through the pyramid center and add the ball attached to a string. It should hang below the sheets.
Then, make a hole at the umbrella top, fasten the upside-down placed jar lid, attach a small plastic cone and the jar on the top. This jar is actually the flies trap.
9. Bottle trap with rotten meat
You need only a plastic bottle, drill, scissors, 1.75 to 3.5 ounces (50 – 100 g) rotten meat, and goodwill to make this trap type.
Take a plastic bottle, cut its top part, and drill a hole in the bottle cap. Put the top bottle part upside down inside the bottom part filled with rotten meat and water.
The rotten meat odor will attract horseflies. Once they enter the trap, it will be almost impossible for them to escape.
Horseflies hate certain fragrances, so you should take advantage of that knowledge and make homemade repellents to get rid of these menaces.
10. White vinegar
You will need:
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 5 tablespoon eucalyptus oil
- 5 cup bath oil
- 5 cup water
The best option is to apply this repellent directly over the horse’s skin.
11. Oil spray
You can mix the lemon dish soap with add baby oil or various essential oils to enhance the repelling effects. These are all-natural ingredients so that you can apply this spray over your or your animals’ skin without side effects. The most effective essential oils used for this purpose are:
- Light mineral oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Tea tree oil
- Citronella oil
You can also add 0.25 cup lemon juice to better effect and use the repellent directly on the pet’s skin.
12. Lavender oil
Mix one part of lavender oil with two parts water and alcohol each. Then, apply this solution over the horse’s skin.
13. Soap spray
Make a spray by mixing a cup of warm water with two cups of white vinegar. Then, add four tablespoons of dish soap, stir well, and spray the mixture over the flies. This solution will kill most insects but is entirely safe for humans, animals, and plants.
It is always better to use environmentally friendly repellents, but you can also try chemicals if you prefer that way.
You can safely use insecticides against horseflies only in theory. Treating these insects in the larval stage is practically impossible since they primarily live near rivers and streams.
Therefore, such an action will probably make the water polluted. The only thing you can do is to treat your animals with a natural insecticide synergized pyrethrin daily. That will significantly reduce insect activity.
15. Commercial fly repellents
Two highly effective products will make fantastic work against horseflies:
- Pyranha Wipe N Spray, a repellent with safe insecticide pyrethrin that works excellently against these annoying insects
- Equisect Botanical Fly Repellent Rtu Spray, a natural spray that kills five flies species, including horseflies
It is always the best decision to consult your vet before applying these products around your animals, just in case.
Keeping Horseflies Away
Getting rid of horseflies when they are already around you is a tiresome job. It is always better to prevent their attacks rather than try to kill them once they bite you. Let’s see.
You can use commercial bug-repelling sprays or make very efficient homemade essential oil repellents for defending yourself from horseflies. It will also help to wear light-colored clothes since horseflies prefer dark colors as a prey indicator.
Still, the best protection is to cover as much skin as possible when going outside during the horseflies season. As you probably know, they are most active on the hot summer days.
Horseflies mainly look for livestock, so you should find a way to protect your animals. In most cases, the best solution is a pyrethrin bath.
Pyrethrin is a natural, non-toxic insecticide that many farmers use to keep horseflies away from their cattle and horses. Bathing your animals with this substance once a day or once every other day will help you keep horseflies far away.
Besides keeping your animals clean, you need to maintain your barn regularly. Clearing out spilled food and manure at least twice a week is a highly effective method.
Removing standing water will prevent the horseflies from laying eggs, while spraying manure with insecticides prevents larvae development. Other helpful moves include:
- Trimming the grass
- Fan installation in the barn
- Using protective nets
Since water bodies attract horseflies, you should protect a pool if you have one in the yard. The best option is to place light traps, like lamps, nearby.
Horseflies attack humans and animals to suck their blood. Their bites are painful and can even be deadly for livestock. Trying to get rid of these insects is an endless but necessary task. Fortunately, you can find numerous bug traps and repellents to protect yourself and your horses and livestock from horseflies.