Pesky Insects at Your Barn: Identifying and Dealing with Annoying Pests

Owning a barn comes with its fair share of challenges, and dealing with pesky insects is certainly one of them. These tiny creatures can not only be a nuisance for your beloved equines but can also pose health risks. In this article, we'll explore some common pesky insects found in horse barns, how to identify them, understand their annoyance for your horses, discover their breeding grounds, and most importantly, learn effective ways to get rid of them. Let's dive in!
Stable fly. Source: Wikipedia
Stable Flies:
  • Identifying characteristics: Stable flies are similar in appearance to house flies but have a distinct biting mouthpart. They are about ¼ inch long and typically have dark stripes on their bodies.
  • Annoyance for horses: Stable flies primarily target horses' legs and bellies, causing painful bites and irritation.
  • Breeding grounds: Stable flies lay their eggs in decaying organic matter, primarily horse manure.
  • Getting rid of them:
    • Maintain clean and dry bedding and regularly remove manure from the premises.
    • Use fly repellents or sprays specifically formulated for stable flies.
    • Employ stable fly traps to help reduce their population.
    • Use a feed-thru product, like MultiFly Feed-Thru Fly Control for Horses. MultiFly breaks the lifecycle of stable flies in the manure of treated horses.
house fly Common house fly. Source: Wikipedia
House Flies:
  • Identifying characteristics: House flies are small, about ¼ inch long, with a gray body and four dark stripes on their thorax.
  • Annoyance for horses: House flies are notorious for buzzing around horses, landing on their bodies, particularly around the eyes and nostrils, causing irritation.
  • Breeding grounds: House flies breed in decaying organic matter, such as manure, wet bedding, or spilled feed.
  • Getting rid of them:
    • Practice proper manure management by promptly removing and disposing of manure.
    • Keep feed areas clean and covered to prevent fly attraction.
    • Use fly traps or sticky tapes to catch house flies.
    • Consider using fly repellents or sprays formulated for house flies on horses.
    • Use a feed-thru product, like MultiFly Feed-Thru Fly Control for Horses. MultiFly breaks the lifecycle of house flies in the manure of treated horses.
Horse fly. Source: Wikipedia
Horse Flies:
  • Identifying characteristics: Horse flies are large flies, often measuring up to an inch in length. They have robust bodies and prominent, colorful eyes.
  • Annoyance for horses: Horse flies are known for their painful bites, which can cause significant discomfort and even result in welts or allergic reactions in horses.
  • Breeding grounds: Horse flies lay their eggs near bodies of water, such as ponds, streams, or muddy areas.
  • Getting rid of them:
    • Install fine-mesh screens on windows and doors to prevent horse flies from entering the barn.
    • Consider using insecticide sprays or traps specifically designed for horse flies.
    • Use fly sheets and masks with ear coverings to protect horses from horse fly bites.
Gnat. Source: Wikipedia
  • Identifying characteristics: Gnats are tiny insects, often measuring only a few millimeters in length. They have slender bodies and delicate wings. They are most active during dusk and dawn.
  • Annoyance for horses: Gnats can be a major annoyance for horses, particularly around their ears, face, and lower legs. Their bites can cause itching, skin irritation, and discomfort.
  • Breeding grounds: Gnats breed in damp, marshy areas and near bodies of water, such as ponds or streams. They require moist environments for their larvae to develop.
  • Getting rid of them:
    • Reduce standing water sources and improve drainage to minimize gnat breeding grounds.
    • Use fans or screens in the barn to create airflow and prevent gnats from entering.
    • Consider using fly sheets, masks, and leg wraps that provide physical barriers against gnats.
    • Apply gnat repellents or sprays specifically designed for horses to keep them at bay.
    • Utilize insecticides or traps that target gnats in outdoor areas, such as paddocks or pastures.
Mosquito. Source: Wikipedia
  • Identifying characteristics: Mosquitoes are small, slender insects with long legs and wings, known for their irritating bites.
  • Annoyance for horses: Mosquitoes are not only bothersome with their incessant buzzing but also pose a significant threat due to their potential for transmitting diseases like West Nile Virus.
  • Breeding grounds: Mosquitoes breed in standing water, such as ponds, water troughs, and puddles.
  • Getting rid of them:
    • Eliminate stagnant water sources.
    • Regularly change water in troughs and buckets.
    • Use mosquito repellents or sprays formulated for horses.
    • Consider using mosquito larvae control products for larger bodies of water.
Tick. Source: Wikipedia
  • Identifying characteristics: Ticks are small, arachnid-like creatures with eight legs and a round or oval body shape.
  • Annoyance for horses: Ticks latch onto horses' skin and feed on their blood, causing discomfort and potential transmission of diseases like Lyme disease.
  • Breeding grounds: Ticks thrive in grassy and wooded areas, as well as on the edges of pastures.
  • Getting rid of them:
    • Regularly check your horses for ticks and remove them promptly.
    • Maintain well-trimmed pastures and paddocks.
    • Consider using tick repellents specifically designed for horses.
    • Consult with your veterinarian regarding tick control products and vaccinations.
Biting midge. Source: Wikipedia
Biting Midges (No-See-Ums):
  • Identifying characteristics: Biting midges are tiny, flying insects that are barely visible to the naked eye.
  • Annoyance for horses: Biting midges are notorious for their painful bites, leading to itching, hair loss, and skin irritations in horses.
  • Breeding grounds: Biting midges prefer damp, marshy areas or locations near standing water.
  • Getting rid of them:
    • Reduce standing water sources and improve drainage.
    • Use fly sheets, masks, and leg wraps to protect horses from midge bites.
    • Consider installing fine-mesh screens on windows and doors.
    • Utilize insecticides or repellents approved for use on horses.
Understanding the pesky insects that frequent equine facilities and their impact on your horses' well-being is crucial for effective pest management. By identifying these insects, learning about their annoyance levels, knowing where they breed, and implementing appropriate control measures, you can successfully create a more comfortable and healthy environment for your equine companions.
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