Agonised by Horseflies? Here’s what you can do

The Queen’s kingdom is being invaded. These blood-thirsty invaders can sneak into your stable undetected and wreak havoc on the gentle souls that inhabit it. Now they may be microscopic compared to your horses, but don’t let their tiny size fool you!

If you’re wondering why we make it sound like an invasion of dwarf sized vampires, it’s because that is pretty much what horseflies are!

Horseflies

Also known as clegs, horseflies are little bugs that are generally spotted in the months of June and July. Just like mosquitoes, they derive blood from their host to lay eggs and in the process, they leave behind a nasty bite.

But unlike mosquitoes, horseflies have sharper jaws. As a result, their bite is a lot more painful and can also cause extreme allergic reactions in humans and animals alike. Besides affecting the health of farm animals, they can also cause severe financial losses for farm owners.

Your Horse Has Been Bit If…

A horsefly bite may not always have serious consequences. But if you have ever been courageous enough to look up a ‘horsefly bite’, you are bound to lose your appetite and set aside food for at least a day.

Following are some of the common symptoms that show up in horses which have been struck by horseflies:

Ø  Allergic dermatitis

Ø  Nodules and pustules

Ø  Skin lesions

Ø  Mechanical dermatitis

Ø  Inflammation 

Ø  Hair loss

Ø  Ulcerations

Ø  Parasite development

Ø  Raw skin

Ø  Fungal disease

Ø  Scabbing

Ø  Itching

Ø  Bacterial infections and diseases

If Your Horse Has Been Bit…

Generally, these bites are harmless, but pictures tell a different story. Besides the usual risk of infection that these bites carry, they are known to cause extreme allergic reactions in certain cases.

If your stable has been ambushed by these flies, following are certain things you can do to treat affected horses:

First Aid

For a single bite, you should either apply an ice pack or bathe the horse using cool saline water - with one teaspoon of salt for every two mugs of water. But if the horse has been bit at multiple locations on its body, you should make use of a flea and bug repellent which is known to remove irritating bacteria or scurf and soothe the inflamed skin.

It is important to ensure that horses don’t worsen their own condition by giving into the temptation of rubbing the affected area.

Medications

A veterinary doctor should be consulted at once when a horsefly attack has taken place. They generally prescribe an ointment which needs to be applied on the affected areas. Before the ointment is applied, you may have to bathe, rinse and dry your horse thoroughly. The type of ointment can vary depending on the part of body which has been attacked by the horsefly.

Environmental Changes

If the veterinary doctor finds that the stable conditions are responsible for pest infestation, they may recommend certain changes to the environment in which your horses are kept.

The stable should be completely free from factors that are known to encourage breeding of horseflies. These factors can include the presence of water, moisture, heaps of muck, hay spillages etc. Stables that are not properly cleaned and maintained are most likely to become breeding grounds for such insects.

Protection against Horseflies

Humans who have suffered at the claws of this hideous insect have taken it to social media to express their agony. It is difficult to imagine the suffering that these pests can inflict on your horses.

There are few things you can do to keep this insect at bay and following are some effective solutions:

Use of Nets

Veils and nets are also available which can protect horses from horsefly bites. These nets can effectively guard body parts which are sensitive to bites such as the ears, eyes and also the entire face. Horses can be made to wear these protective nets before the insects reach the peak of their activity, which is mostly during the evening and night.

Use of Insecticides

Another effective way of keeping the terrible insects away from your horses is to use insecticides. A vet can demonstrate to you how the insecticide can be applied on horses. They are generally used on those body parts which are most prone to being attacked by horseflies. There are many products on the market such as leg bands or neck collars that contain insecticide and these are quite effective at keeping the horseflies away.

Ensuring the Right Conditions

The stable’s environment has a direct impact on the possibility of a horsefly attack. Encouraging the following conditions in your stable is like handing out invitations to horseflies:

Ø  Stagnant water

Ø  A humid and wet environment in close proximity to wooded areas or water bodies

Ø  The presence of garbage

Ø  Unkempt manure piles

Ø  Unattended heaps of compost

Ø  Unsanitary feed bins

Ø  Unsanitary stalls

At Masterclip, we believe that most health irregularities relating to animals can be easily prevented if only sufficient care is taken. Keeping your horse in the right conditions, whilst regularly using products such as animal shampoo and bug repellents will mean that your horse can enjoy the summer months just as much as the rest of us. 

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