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Farm Management
First Posted: Mar 15, 2008
Mar 5, 2015

Fly Predators (Barn Management)

by Debora Johnson

Flies, flies, flies! Do you have too many flies at your barn. Are you and your horses plagued by flies on the face and around the eyes? Do you have biting flies that draw welts? Get rid of your flies. Kate, who owns the property where our horses live, has managed to just about eliminate flies at the barn. Of course, she keeps a clean barn and composts manure properly. She keeps the barn and environment clean. Kate uses another weapon in her arsenal to keep our barn environment basically fly free. She uses fly predators.

What Are Fly Predators?

Fly predators are nature's way of controlling flies which use manure and rotting organic matter for breeding purposes. This includes the common house fly, horn fly, biting stable fly and lesser house fly. Fly predators keep fly populations in check by destroying the next generation of flies in their immature pupa stage. Fly predators are tiny, gnat-sized, nocturnal, burrowing insects. They do not bite or sting. They never become pests themselves. After they have emerged, their single minded pursuit is to reproduce by finding pest fly pupa. Because of their small size and the fact they live their entire life cycle on or near manure, where the pest fly pupa are typically found, fly predators go unnoticed.

Treat the barn, not the horse. Chemicals and poisons can do harm to the environment as well as to you, livestock, wildlife and the beneficial insect populations. This is a serious problem as some of the common spray residues are effective for up to 3 or 4 years, and remember that poisonous toxic chemicals become less effective with repeated use. It is important to make sure that you have enough fly predators for the number of horses in the facility. It is also important to release the fly predators according to the instructions. They have to be replenished at regular intervals. They work! For further information on fly predators Google "Fly Predators." There are many web sites about this. Fly Predators

I would like to note that you will often hear that feeding your horse garlic is an effective way to control flies. My horses did not like the taste and refused to eat it. Also, horses that are included to stomach problems or ulcers may be impacted by eating garlic in a bad way. I would not recommend it; however, many horse owners use supplements that contain ingredients such as garlic and apple cider vinegar to help protect the horse from the inside out. Insect control supplements containing these ingredients can discourage flies from biting or landing on your horse, even if your horse is the only one on the supplement. Others feed Diatomaceous Earth (DE). I have never done this so have no background other than to say follow the provided link for more information and do your own research. Also, consult your vet.

Steps to Reduce Flies

  • Keep Flies off Your Property.
  • Manage Existing Flies. Reduce the adult fly population quickly. Start with an aggressive trapping program: fly traps, strips, sticks, bait, automatic misters, and residual sprays. These tools can be used indoors and outdoors so you can beat the bugs no matter where they are.
  • Protect you horse such as fly masks, boots, sheets or other physical barriers.Also, repellents, spot-ons, screens and fans are helpful.
  • Feed Fly Control Supplements Feed-through larvicides are designed to prevent the development of flies in the manure of treated horses by breaking the lifecycle of the flies. Larvicides need to be fed to all of the horses on the property in order to be most effective.
  • Manage Existing Flies

For More information on going green and controlling flies: Controlling Flies the "Green" Way

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