Are you wondering about how to get rid of horseflies? If so, it’s probably because you have noticed an influx of these annoying and biting pests. Horsefly season is upon us, starting in May and likely to stretch until September.
And while horseflies are not always dangerous to people, their bites are painful and their presence is obnoxious. So, how do you get rid of horseflies?
If you’re asking this question, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s find out more about horseflies and how to manage them for good.
But First, What Are Horseflies?
Horseflies are large, biting flies commonly known to bite horses and livestock.
Horseflies are large, aggressive flies that are known to bite humans and other animals. As their name suggests, they are common around farm animals like horses and cattle, but they can also be common in any environment conducive to their needs.
Horseflies can be confused with mosquitoes because they have similar habits, including biting people to feast on blood and leaving behind itchy bumps or welts. However, unlike mosquitoes, horseflies are not known to transmit diseases to human beings.
And while horseflies are commonly found around barns, ranches, and other similar locations, these pests can be common almost anywhere if the conditions are right.
In fact, horseflies are found throughout the United States, where their preferred habitats include wet meadows, marshes, ponds, and streams. Because of their preference for still water and damp areas, horseflies prefer to breed in standing water such as ponds or shallow depressions in the ground.
As we mentioned above, horseflies feed on mammals’ blood. These flies often bite livestock, sometimes causing wounds that become infected with bacteria from manure or rotting vegetation.
Though they can be mistaken for horseflies because their bites may cause similar reactions, horseflies actually look quite different from their mosquito counterparts.
Adult horseflies have large eyes that give them good vision even in low light conditions; they also have long legs with spiny feet designed for grabbing onto animals’ hides when they try to escape from being bitten by one of these pests. Horseflies also have large antennae, and their bodies are hairy or bristly.
The larvae of horseflies are known as “wigglers” because they wiggle around while swimming in water. They have a distinctive red tail, which helps them stay upright as they swim.
Horsefly larvae live in shallow water where they eat algae and other organic matter. When they are ready to become adults (called pupae), they leave the water and move onto land. The males emerge first, followed by the females about two weeks later.
Horsefly adults do not eat solid food; instead, the females need blood from an animal (or human) to produce eggs. The more blood she consumes, the more eggs she can produce! The larvae hatch from these eggs, which fall off into water where they develop into pupae before emerging as adults.
Are Horseflies Dangerous?
Just because horseflies are not known to spread disease or illness to people through their bites, their bites can be quite painful and these bites also leave behind itchy sores and irritated welts.
Furthermore, horsefly bites can become infected from secondary infections due to itching or scratching the area that was bitten, though this is rare so long as the person who is bitten takes care to wash and treat the bite as needed.
Horsefly bites can be dangerous, however, to animals. Some of the most common diseases horseflies can spread to animals include some forms of trypanosomes, equine infectious anemia virus, tularemia, and more.
What Attracts Horseflies?
Horseflies are attracted to mammals like horses, livestock, and sometimes even people.
Like mosquitoes and other biting flies, horseflies are attracted to the smell of carbon dioxide we breathe, the sweat mammals produce, and even certain colors we wear or our body heat.
As we mentioned, horseflies feed on horses but they will also bite people and other animals such as cattle or deer. Horseflies bite mammals because they need blood to produce eggs and larvae (the immature stage between egg and adult). Female horseflies lay their eggs on grasses near water sources where the larvae will live before maturing into adults.
This means that horseflies can be attracted not only to people and animals but also to certain environments.
Environments with stagnant water sources or marshy grasslands can be an ideal home for these annoying pests.
If your yard or property has stagnant water sources like play pools, ponds, lakes, bird baths, or even overwatered lawns and drainage, you could be inviting horseflies.
To work on how to get rid of horseflies, the best thing to do is be proactive in the methods you use to not only repel them but also keep them from coming back.
We have listed some of the best practices below you can follow for how to get rid of horseflies.
How To Get Rid Of Horseflies – Best Practices
There are many ways to protect yourself and your horse from horseflies.
Getting rid of horseflies takes a few steps and requires commitment. There are a few methods you can use for how to get rid of horseflies, including those listed below.
Remove Stagnant Water Sources
The most important step in the process of how to get rid of horseflies is to remove all stagnant water sources. Horseflies are attracted to these types of places because they provide excellent breeding grounds for their larvae, as we discussed above. If you can remove all standing water from your property, you will significantly reduce the likelihood that you will have an infestation of horseflies in the future.
Invest In Repellent Sprays and Applications
Another option for how to get rid of horseflies is to invest in repellent sprays and applications that will keep these pests away from your home and property. There are many different types of repellent sprays and pest control applications available on the market today, including ones made from natural ingredients such as citronella oil or lemon oil mixed, or products that use chemical insecticides. We will list a few products we have found work best for how to get rid of horseflies further down.
Use Home Remedies
There are also a few home remedies you can use that can help get rid of horseflies. Some home remedies help protect your body or the bodies of your pets or livestock while others can be used to help keep horseflies away from your yard or home.
If you scroll down you will find that we have listed a few different methods and recipes you can use as a form of do-it-yourself pest control for how to get rid of horseflies.
Horseflies are not only attracted to people and animals. Horseflies are also attracted to certain plants and flowers you might be growing in your garden. For example, horseflies are especially attracted to yellow and white flowers, so avoiding planting these colors can help keep them away. If you want to avoid attracting these biting flies, you can also try using planting that works to repel horseflies like mint, or garlic. We will talk more about how to use companion planting for how to get rid of horseflies below.
Invite The Predators
If you don’t want to use pesticides or other harmful chemicals on your property, then you might consider inviting some of the horsefly predators over! There are a wide variety of horsefly predators you can choose from. Keep reading to find our section on which predators repel horseflies further down.
Hire A Professional Pest Control Expert
If you do decide that some heavy-duty pesticides are necessary then it could be best to hire a professional pest control expert instead of trying to get rid of a severe infestation of horseflies yourself. Professional pest control experts can recommend the right pesticides or products and will be able to strategically find the source of your infestation and remove the horseflies for you.
Of course, severe infestations can be rare, and most people find they can manage how to get rid of horseflies on their own.
Best Products For How To Get Rid Of Horseflies
Because horseflies are often attracted to animals, it’s important to use products that are safe for them.
There are different types of products you can use for how to get rid of horseflies. Some products include the use of chemical insecticides while others use natural ingredients like essential oils or plant-based ingredients.
When you are looking for the best products for how to get rid of horseflies, you need to consider factors like where you live, the severity of your horsefly issue, and your budget. Here are some of the best types of products for you to consider:
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control Spray
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control Spray is a pest control spray we like for using around animals like horses and cattle because it uses natural ingredients that are safe for not only them, but also people, pets, and the environment.
The active ingredients in Wondercide are cedar oil, lemongrass oil, citronella oil, rosemary oil, and peppermint oil. These are all plant-based oils that have been shown to repel insects.
Manna Pro Pro-Force Fly Spray
Manna Pro Pro-Force Fly Spray is a spray repellent specifically designed for how to get rid of horseflies. to use this product for horsefly removal, you need to apply the spray on the horse’s entire body and the areas where your horses or livestock are going to be in contact with the flies. Bonus points for this spray being able to be used on dogs!
The spray is made using natural ingredients that repel flies and other insects. The ingredients include citronella oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, and clove oil. These ingredients have been known to create an unpleasant smell that keeps away flies and other insects from coming near you or your horse.
Applying this product can be done in several ways: You can either spray it directly onto skin or clothing, directly on the animals targeted, or you can spray it into the air around your horse so that the flies will avoid coming near them.
The best way to do this is by spraying some repellent on a sponge applicator pad and then rubbing it all over yourself and your horse’s body before heading out into an area with lots of flies such as a stable yard or pasture. Be sure not to get any fly repellent in your eyes or mouth.
Bronco Equine Fly Spray
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Another product we recommend for how to get rid of horseflies is Bronco Equine Fly Spray. Like the other products on this list, this spray is safe for people, pets, and the environment because it again uses natural ingredients.
The ingredients are as follows:
Citronella Oil – The oil from this plant is a natural insect repellent that has been used for centuries to keep bugs away from people. It’s also used in candles and oils for the same reason.
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil – This oil comes from an Australian plant that has long been used as an insect repellent. It smells like citronella but with a stronger odor. It’s also used in candles and oils for its strong scent.
Geranium Oil – Another plant-based extract that has long been used as an insect repellent due to its strong scent.
Best Products For Horsefly Prevention
Preventing horseflies means using products and habits to keep them at bay.
Getting rid of horseflies is certainly important, but keeping horseflies from coming back is just as vital. Along with using products for how to get rid of horseflies, we also suggest looking into the best types of products you can use to keep them from becoming a problem in the future.
Fly repellents are essential for any home or barn with horses. These products use ingredients or chemicals to keep flies from coming nearby creating an unpleasant smell or taste that they don’t like. If you have horses, some horsefly repellents are even designed to make your horse’s coat sticky and uncomfortable for flies to land on.
There are many different types of fly repellents available, so it’s important to find one that works best for your situation. If you’re not sure where to begin looking, we have listed some top-rated horsefly repellents for how to get rid of horseflies and keep them from returning below.
Farnam SimpliFly Feed
Farnam SimpliFly Feed is ideal for those with horses that are dealing with horsefly problems. The feed is unique in that it works to repel flies and breaks the fly life cycle.
The ingredients in SimpliFly help to keep the horse’s coat shiny and healthy, while also reducing the amount of time a horse spends scratching their backs.
Other ingredients in the feed help break down the outer shell of the fly larva, which allows them to be eaten by their host animal. This helps prevent infestations from occurring on your property.
SimpliFly comes in a one-pound bag, which will last you about 30 days if you have a large horse or pony. It’s also available in 5-pound bags for larger breeds or multiple horses at once!
Nature’s Good Guys Fly Exterminators
Nature’s Good Guys Fly Exterminators are another option you can use to kill flies in their egg and larval stage to help prevent infestation on your property.
Nature’s Good Guys Fly Exterminators are a product that contains Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis (Bti) which is the same natural bacterium used in the Mosquito Bits and Mosquito Dunks. The Bti will attack the larval stage of any fly and will not harm humans, pets, birds, or bees. These are a great alternative for homeowners who want something safe to use in their yards around children and pets.
These products contain no insecticides so they are not harmful to bees or other beneficial insects like ladybugs or praying mantises. They come in two different sizes: A two oz jar with approximately 40 servings per container or an eight oz jar with approximately 200 servings per container.
Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of Horseflies
There are many types of essential oils you can use to repel horseflies.
We did mention above that home remedies for how to get rid of horseflies can be an effective method of control, but you’ll need to be strategic in the way you implement this method in order for it to be successful.
Be mindful of the products you are using and how often you are using them when it comes to horsefly removal. We should also note that you may need to use home remedies for how to get rid of horseflies in conjunction with other methods or products listed above.
For now, here are some of the best methods of home remedies you can use for how to get rid of horseflies.
Make Your own Essential Oil Spray
One way to deter horseflies is by creating an essential oil spray that will keep them away. You can make this spray with common essential oils you may already have on hand and some water in a spray bottle. This will help deter horseflies from coming near your property and make it less likely they will bite while they’re there.
The best essential oils that help deter horseflies include:
- Peppermint Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Clove Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Cedarwood Oil
- Citronella Oil
- Teatree Oil
To make your own essential oil spray to repel horseflies, you will need the following ingredients and to follow the below instructions:
Ingredients For A DIY Horsefly Repellent Spray
- 10 drops of lavender essential oil
- 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
- 1 cup of distilled water
- 1 spray bottle (you can get one at any grocery store)
- Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and shake well before each use.
- Spray on skin and hair to keep the flies away!
- If you want to make the DIY spray stronger, add some cayenne pepper or a few more drops of eucalyptus oil or lavender oil.
Pro tip – if you don’t have eucalyptus oil or lavender oil, you can substitute the oil for this homemade spray for how to get rid of horseflies by using any of the other essential oils listed above.
Use Plants That Deter Horseflies
Plants such as mint, lemon balm, and wormwood are great at deterring horseflies because they have strong scents that repel insects naturally. You can plant these plants around your property so that when the wind blows through them it sends out an odor that prevents horseflies from coming close enough for bites or laying eggs nearby.
Other plants that deter horseflies include:
- Citronella Grass
- And Tansy
Common Horsefly Predators
One method you can use for how to get rid of horseflies is to invite the horsefly predators. Like many flies, horseflies have an abundance of natural predators, including dragonflies, wasps, and spiders.
You can encourage these predators to visit your property by planting flowering plants like dill, parsley, and fennel. These plants attract both adult and larval insects that prey on horseflies.
Other predators you might consider inviting to your property include:
Dragonflies and damselflies.
- These colorful flying insects are voracious predators of both adult and larval flies. They eat the flies in mid-air, catching them with their long, grasping legs. Dragonflies can also snatch up a fly that lands on a pond’s surface with their lightning-fast reflexes.
- These large, greenish insects have powerful front legs that they use like pincers to grasp prey tightly while delivering a lethal bite to its head or neck area with their sharp “jaws.” Praying mantises can easily catch large flies in flight or when they land on vegetation or other surfaces around your home or property.
- Birds such as bluebirds, robins, swallows, and starlings eat many kinds of insects including horseflies. If you want to invite these birds to your property, make sure there is plenty of food for them in the form of berries and seeds. You can also create birdhouses and out bird feeders.
- Frogs are famous for their appetite for flies, and horseflies are certainly on their list of favorite meals. If you have a pond on your property, consider planting lily pads (which are edible) so that frogs have somewhere safe to lay their eggs while they’re away from home hunting
Make Your Own Vinegar And Soap Horsefly Spray
Horseflies and many other insects and pests are deterred by the smell of vinegar and soap. You can use this to your advantage and make your own horsefly spray using these very ingredients.
Here’s how to make your own vinegar and soap horsefly spray for how to get rid of horseflies:
- 1-2 cups of water
- 1/3 cup of white vinegar (preferably distilled)
- 1/3 cup of liquid castile soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s (or any other unscented, organic liquid soap). You can adjust the ratio according to how much you want to make; just keep it at 1:2 or 2:1 vinegar to soap.
Mix the above ingredients together in a spray bottle and spritz this on your body, clothing, or even your horse. (If you do spray this on your horse, be sure you are using soaps that are safe for animals and that will not irritate your horse’s skin or coat).
You can also use this method as a form of natural cleaning product around your home.
Make Your Own Horsefly Trap
While a fly trap is not going to be the most effective home remedy you can use for how to get rid of horseflies, it can help you monitor your progress and keep an eye on which other methods are working best.
To make your own horsefly trap, you will need the following:
- A small plastic container with a lid
- A small piece of cardboard (cut from the center of a cereal box)
- An old piece of window screen or fly screen mesh
- A kitchen knife or a pair of scissors
- Cut out a square about 4 inches across from the piece of cardboard and place it in the bottom of your container.
- Cut out an opening at one end of your square so that it fits over the top of your canning jar lid. The opening should be just large enough for the horseflies to enter but too small for them to escape once they are trapped inside. You may want to experiment with different sizes until you find one that works best for you.
- Using an old piece of window screen or other porous material, wrap it around your cardboard square (now attached to the bottom of your canning jar) so that it forms a funnel shape with open ends on either side facing up into your jar’s mouth. This will make it so the fly can get into the trap but will be unable to get out.
- Bait the fly trap with apple cider vinegar or molasses mixed with a little water and spread over the top of your funnels.
- Once you have everything set up, hang your fly trap in a shady area where you see horseflies buzzing around most often. Be sure to check on your trap often and empty out any dead flies as they accumulate inside!
Keeping Horseflies At Bay For Good – Expert Tips and Tricks
Keeping horseflies under control can take time and patience.
While determining how to get rid of horseflies may seem like a daunting task, it really just takes a bit of time, a few changed habits, and some consistency to ensure these files are managed.
Horsefly prevention begins with sanitation. Horseflies are attracted to the scents left behind by animals and people. Horseflies are also attracted to standing water sources, so make sure there is no standing water where they can lay their eggs. This will also help prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your backyard.
Mulch around your trees will help keep horseflies away from the area where you spend most of your time outdoors. If you have a garden or flowerbeds, place mulch around them as well.
And remember, while horseflies are not dangerous to people, they can be dangerous to horses and livestock. If you do have a horsefly infestation that you feel you cannot manage on your own, it is best to contact a professional pest control company in your area for further assistance.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on managing horseflies! Best of luck with keeping these pests at bay and thanks for reading!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.